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Friday, September 16, 2011

The Secret Circle - "Pilot"

     The CW presents The Secret Circle, a new drama about witches from some of the same creative force behind hit The Vampire Diaries. The story follows Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson, Swingtown), who is forced to move in with her grandmother, Jane (Ashley Crow, Heroes, who doesn't really look old enough to play a grandma) after the untimely death of her mother (Emily Holmes). Almost as soon as Cassie gets to town, she is inundated with strange happenings. Five other local teenagers tell Cassie she is a watch, and together, they can form a circle. Just like their parents did so many years ago. But unlike their parents, whom one of each died during a magical accident years ago, these kids are sure they have a handle on things. Cassie isn't so certain. It is clear, though, that Cassie's presence makes each kid far more powerful than they were before.

     Life Unexpected, The Secret Circle is not. They both air(ed) on the CW, and both star Britt Robertson, but the similarities end there. This new series is about magic and murder, not finding family happiness. Cassie settles right on in with her grandmother, so they must be close before the series begins. But the past is buried deep for the Blake, and other families in the area. The secrets Cassie will be digging up will not be about her biological life-givers, but rather, what those people did when they were foolish young adults.

     Because The Secret Circle is on the CW, the obligatory teenage angst is present in full force. Cassie quickly falls for kind Adam (Thomas Dekker, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Sadly, Adam is already involved with someone, friendly Diana (Shelley Hennig, Days of Our Lives). Adam and Cassie are supposedly "written in the stars," so we'll see how that works it. It didn't for their parents.

     Rounding our the circle are bitchy Faye (Phoebe Tonkin, H2O: Just Add Water), Faye's sidekick Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy, Valemont), and the boy living next door to Cassie, Nick (Louis Hunter, Out of the Blue). Faye most wants to use the powers they all possess, calling a major storm to the town that Cassie must stop when Faye loses control. Nick also shows a wicked streak when he opens Cassie's bedroom curtains when she isn't decent. Is he playing a game, or is he malicious? Melissa really does nothing noteworthy in the "Pilot," so she remains a question mark.

     Despite Faye's bad deeds, Cassie's biggest threats will probably come from outside the group. The previous circle, or what's left of it, have their own dark secrets, and may not like the youngsters following in their footsteps. Diana's father, Charles (Gale Harold, Queer as Folk, Hellcats) is the one that actually murders Cassie's mother, tricking the girl into coming to town for unknown reasons, though Cassie doesn't know that. He is friendly with Faye's mother, Dawn (Natasha Henstridge, Eli Stone), though it is unclear, but likely, if Dawn knows Charles's methods. The third member of their former group in "Pilot" is Adam's father, Ethan (Adam Harrington, Dexter). Ethan is a drunk, but seemingly a nice guy. When Ethan tries to tell Cassie about her mother, Charles almost drowns him.

     There are enough unanswered questions and interesting possibilities to keep viewers intrigued for some time. If it unfolds as tantalizingly as The Vampire Diaries, it will have a lively, popular run. While the teen actors are mostly not ones I'm familiar with, Robertson handles herself well, and Dekker shows some real departure from his previous role. Plus, the adults cast are all wonderful, so the series should be able to grow some legs in short order.

     The Secret Circle airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.

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