Welcome to Chance Harbor where the teen witches are comely, the magic is real, and the parent witches are up to no good. The ones who are left alive, that is. Apparently, the bad ones routinely kill off the good ones, and so it’s another day at the office for Diane’s dad, Charles, who uses his sympathetic Blue Diamond Matches of Doom to immolate our heroine Cassie’s Mom. Goodbye Amelia: we hardly knew you, but at least you had the foresight to leave your daughter a nice note (with just the right amount of unspecific paranoia) in your family’s Book of Shadows hidden a thousand miles away in the mantle of the fireplace in your bedroom at your Mom’s house which you left sixteen years ago around the time Cassie was born never to return. Nice bit of foresight there.
So there was a bit of sympathetic magic and a bunch of improvised chants in this first episode, but mostly the magic of Chance Harbor appears to be of the stare-at-the-object-meaningfully school of film magic. That’s probably better than a Samanthan nose-twitch or a Jeannie blink, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not going to plumb the depths of Ceremonial Magic or even a good old Wiccan circle casting on this show. Apparently, the mean old parents do, however, wish to manipulate the young witches into performing something called “The Ritual”, and so we’ll see.
Of course, it’s not clear that the younger generation is much better than the old. Mean girl Faye impulsively decides to use her magic staring powers to “test” Cassie by locking her in her car and setting the engine on fire. Stupid Faye: don’t you know that the real way to test to see if someone’s a witch is to throw them in the water and see if they float? And the water’s right there. You’re in Chance Harbor, after all. In any case, Adam is able to use his magic staring powers to rescue our poor Princess Cassie. He’d make a good match with Cassie if he weren’t already dating Diana. Of course, that fact does not stop him from getting a little sugar later in the forest with Cassie after he shows her that she too has magic staring powers by initiating her with the ever popular Floaty CGI Dew-balls of Incipient Forbidden Love spell.
The presence of Cassie in Chance Harbor completes The Secret Circle enhancing everyone’s magic staring powers, and so, of course, the first thing Stupid Faye wants to do with hers is raise a hurricane. Oh, well, any excuse to get our pretty young actresses sopping wet, I guess. (To be fair, the only really gratuitous shots of the good looking cast in the Pilot were of Cassie’s hard-abbed neighbor Nick.) Fortunately, Cassie is there to put a damper (so to speak) on Stupid Faye’s Tempest of Because I Can, and all is safe for the next installment.
I may snark, but I enjoyed the first episode. The cast shows some promise, and there are some definite improvements over the novels. Making the Good Girl Diane the daughter of the villain is a great way to pile drama on top of the love triangle. Based on Adam’s line that their lineage goes back to 1692 and the fact that Charles torments Adam’s father Ethan by filling his lungs with water, I’m guessing that Charles has been possessed by the spirit of Black John (who was drowned by his coven back in the day) which presents some redemptive or tragic possibilities for his character. Cassie does not find her Book of Shadows until nearly the end of the novels, and so here she’s immediately given access to the magic of her ancestors. In the novels, Cassie meets Adam by rescuing him which I certainly prefer to what happened here, but she rescues him from a bunch of witch-hunters, and I’m glad that they are keeping that group out of the picture at least for now.
The only really troubling moment so far was not in the show itself, but, rather, in the insider interview with Executive Producer Kevin Williamson during a break when he stated that their magic has an undercurrent of evil. He might have been referring to the specific evil personified by Black John in the novels, but I’m concerned that he might be pandering to the “all magic is evil” elements of our society. All we can do at this point is watch and see how the series plays out. What did you guys think?