The Secret Circle Premiere Review: Under Its Spell

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If ever there were an ideal companion to The Vampire Diaries, it would be The Secret Circle.

This makes perfect sense, of course, seeing as both shows are based around L.J. Smith novels, but it's never clear how a book will translate to the big screen. Based on the series premiere, however, I can safely say: so far, so mysteriously, enjoyably, attractively good.

Cassie in Danger

Like its predecessor on The CW, The Secret Circle focuses on teens that wrestle with their abilities and their relationships, whether the latter is the result of a supernatural skill set that brings students together, or typical feelings of young love. What did I love about the premiere? What would I change? Where might it go? All good questions...

THE GOOD
The opening five minutes: Now that's how you kick start a series! In just a couple scenes, we learned a lot about Cassie (she can change her own tire, she's independent, strong-willed, close to her mother); were introduced to Charles as a villain; and had the stakes immediately raised via a fiery murder.

Britt Robertson as Cassie: No surprise to anyone who watched Life Unexpected, but Robertson is simply a great young actress. She can play vulnerable, tough, funny. Yes, we're only an episode in, but it's already difficult to imagine anyone else in the role.

Phoebe Tonkin as Faye: We're looking at a breakout star here, as I told the actress at Comic Con. (No, I'm not just saying this because Tonkin is a TV Fanatic.) She's simply a hoot on the pilot, clearly having a blast in the role of Faye, the one young witch who has no qualms about using her powers. Isn't that how most 16-year olds would react, after all? It's important to have someone measured, such as Diana, around, but we also need that maturity to be balanced by a wilder, more fun-loving card.

Wow, Bubbles!

The inter-generational war: Easily my favorite aspect of the premiere. Unlike other teenager-based soap operas (I'm staring at you, 90210 and Pretty Little Liars), the adults are not merely around to join their children at the dinner table. There's a rich, meaty past here, as something happened 16 years ago, some "accident" occurred and many deaths took place as a result.

Cassie's mother skipped town afterward, Nick lost both his parents, Cassie's grandmother is afraid of history repeating itself and Dawn and Charles are up to... something. The Circle will take care of it without knowing it. Huh? I love it. I'm totally on board.

The love triangle: You've gotta have a love triangle, right? What makes this one different from many others on TV is that Cassie isn't simply attracted to Adam for his looks or even his personality, although both are appealing. Fate is somehow at work here, which looks to be an overriding, intriguing concept on the show. What happens when you mess with destiny?

THE BAD
Witch overload: This is certainly no fault of the show itself, but viewers might simply be sick of witches. They were featured on season four of True Blood, Bonnie plays a key role on the series that precedes this one every Thursday night. Scenes such as the one above, of the coven displaying its abilities, might come across as less impactful, considering how often we've seen similar examples on other programs.

I don't feel this way, I think it would be a mistake for others to feel this way (consider how many crime procedurals are out there, or legal dramas; a good show is a good show is a good show, regardless of subject matter), but it's a conceivable reaction for some viewers.

THE FUTURE
I've already hinted at many of the mysterious laid out in just one hour, but they're worth repeating here. What was the accident? What role did each member of the older coven play in it? What do they want with Cassie? Who is coming to town? What secret is Melissa hiding?

There's little doubt that The CW has another hit on its hands with The Secret Circle. A talented, young, good-looking cast. The potential for flashbacks, new characters to arrive, supernatural mysterious to unravel. We've seen this before, haven't we? Who else is excited to settle in for two hours of it every Thursday night, all season long?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
  • 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (224 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I havent watched the secret circle yet, but i trust TV fanatic when they say "If ever there were an ideal companion to The Vampire Diaries, it would be The Secret Circle."
I am beyond obbsessed with TVD and have been looking for another series just as good. Im very excited to watch it and hope it lives up to the hype surrounding it.

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i think i'm gonna really love the premiere show! xx

Tvjunkie

@May From what I can tell from the pilot, I think Faye is meant to play that in between of good and evil. It's easy to hate her because of how obnoxious she can become with her power but I think we'll eventually see more of her just like we did with Damon.

May

this show was great but for sure they need a "Damon" like charcter in the show. someone we hate and love and is funny ad hot at the same time. So far i have not see someone like that though.

Tvjunkie

This was a really good pilot for the show. I haven't read the books and I think that actually helps me judge it as a show and not as an adaptation. I'm impressed with the cast because I felt like all of them really got into the character that they're playing and they did it well. I liked how the four characters from the circle that we were introduced to in this episode already show a distinct diversity between characters so we really see a balance there. I also loved the history tie up that this show has going on similar to The Vampire Diaries cause there's a lot to play with there. I think this show has a lot of potential and there are a lot of good plots to look forward to. The pilot did just what it was suppose to do.

Uncle-jackass

Correction: to myself Britt Robertson and Phoebe Tonkin were fantastic and great actors.

Uncle-jackass

There was no disputing that both Britt Robertson and Phoebe Tonkin were fantastic and great characters. I will admit I haven't read the books yet, but being a LJ Smith fan there somewhere on my self waiting to be read. That said, was it just me but was the male casting horrible for the young cast? I think of lot of these types of CW series really really depend on a strong male cast to compliment the female ones. I thought it was lack-lusting in chemistry and triangles. I wish if anyone else thought it lacked something that the TVD and other series have in male casting?

Fortyseven

@Mela Thanks for the information. I was just offering my opinion based on math and what I've seen in television, books and movies. Based just on math, 5 or 7 is better than 6 and I've never seen/read about a circle of 6. 13 wouldn't be practical for a weekly television series. Is a circle of 4 as strong as a circle of 3 or 5 or does it just depend on the tradition?

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The Joy Formidable were the band on the opening song. Don't know which song, though. Great show! Hope it lasts.

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I may be the only one, but does anyone else think, that when Charles said "The Circle will take care of it without even knowing it.", that he means the spell to limit their powers?

The Secret Circle Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Cassie: Are you doing this?
Adam: We are.

Oh for God's sake, spit it out! You're a witch. You're a full-blooded, hundred percent witch. We all are. There, done.

Faye
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