'The Secret Circle' 1.01: 'Pilot' Recap

I'll continue to watch this if they immediately change it to the "Misadventures of Faye The Mean Girl Witch."

***Spoilers below!***

Everything you need to know about the new CW show The Secret Circle can be summed up in the fact that all the cool teens hang out at the bay side Red Lobster-type joint. It's endemic of a fuzzy lack of detail in a show that has some glimmers of hope, but really needs to flesh out its world super fast if it's going to keep viewers beyond the first couple of episodes.

The titular "Circle" is a coven of coed teen witches from a long line of witches (apparently it's hereditary, like in Bewitched) and they need a sixth to really get their power going. Enter new girl in town Cassie Blake (Brittany Robertson), who arrives in the town of Salem* after the death of her mother in the admittedly cool opening sequence involving a magic explosion unleashed by an adult he-witch. I'd say warlock, but if the show is going to make "witch" a unisex title, then who am I to disagree?

Cassie is unaware of her witchity heritage, but her new friends mostly want to break it to her easy. They include nice girl Dianna (Shelley Hennig), her boyfriend Adam (Thomas Dekker), and Nick (Louis Armstrong). Well, not all of them: Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) and Sally (Logan Brown)--the mean girl and her sidekick--would rather they just force the newbie's powers out of her so they can't get down to the mysterious "ritual" they keep talking about in hushed tones. Meanwhile, the adults know something is up, something bad happened 16 years earlier, and something worse could happen if the kids reach their full power--what those things are, no one's saying, it's too early for that.

The show gets off to a rocky start for reasons that are kind of par for the course for this sort of thing, with the lead character being unaware of a secret that everyone including the audience already knows. And the pilot kind of fumbles and delays this until a mid to late episode reveal involving some not great water effects in the woods. If only the episode could have gotten some of this out of the way much quicker it could have dived into fleshing out Cassie, who at this point is really only characterized as "sad" following her mother's death and "suspicious" of the other kids.

That's not to say actress Brittany Robertson is in any way bad in her role--she just doesn't have a lot to work with this episode. Likewise Thomas Dekker who, I suspect, may simply been told to smolder and talk low. Where the real strength of the show lies is with Tonkin's Faye, kind of weirdly hostile and reckless, and already gearing up to go all Fairuza Balk before all is said and done with the show. Honestly, if her character was simply unleashed and the show was all about her causing ruckus, I could be about that.

Oh! And Natasha Henstridge (Species) is in it, playing the school principal, mother to Phoebe, and still looking pretty damn good, so there's that. And Gale Harold, playing Diana's father, gets some pretty cool moments of menace, although he's doing something weird with his accent--I thought he was simply trying to bury an Irish accent or something, but according to his IMDB page, he's from Georgia.

So one episode in, I'm a little down on it, but not so much that I won't give the second episode a chance. Pilots can be a little rough. If the writers of The Secret Circle have it in them to drop a bit of the mope and cut wild with some kind of mythology, they might have something solid on their hands.

*Wait, "Salem?" Really? I missed that when watching it initially.

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

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