The Vampire Diaries is The CW’s biggest TV series so it makes sense that they’re trying to duplicate that success. What better way to do it than to produce another show that’s based on a series of books from author L.J. Smith.
The Secret Circle revolves around a normal teenager named Cassie (Britt Robertson) who loses her mother in a tragic fire. Cassie moves to a beautiful small town in Washington to live with her grandmother (Ashley Crow). At high school, she connects with a number of classmates; sweet-natured Diana Meade (Shelly Hennig) and her handsome boyfriend, Adam Conant (Thomas Dekker); brooding loner Nick (Louis Hunter); mean-girl Faye Chamberlain (Phoebe Tonkin) and her sidekick, Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy). Soon, strange and frightening things begin to happen and Cassie learns that she and her friends have incredible powers. Unsurprisingly, there’s some darker powers at play as well.
The critics have mixed views on the series but overall seem to agree that it accomplishes what it sets out to be: a good companion piece to Vampire Diaries.
NY Times: The Secret Circle sticks “closely to CW formulas, with the result that a lot of what we see and hear in the first episode feels like outtakes. Pretty young characters in a picturesque location (British Columbia standing in for Washington State), coming of age to a pop soundtrack; dead or vanished parents; latent paranormal abilities; local hangout; small-town secrets — it’s the entire supernatural teenage soap opera template, but the execution is rushed and chintzy, without the languorous gloss that makes The Vampire Diaries worthwhile.”
LA Times: The air “of familiarity notwithstanding, the pilot is splendidly rendered; effective in the expected ways in a way that makes you forget you expected them. Director Liz Friedlander aims not just for creepiness but for a tremulous sense of beauty that reflects the heightened sensibilities and hair-trigger sensitivities of adolescence. There is a very pretty sequence involving floating drops of dew that suggests a metaphor for magic as sex, and the pilot generally licks its lips over the moody light and low northern skies that spell “Made in Canada.” (The series moves the action from the books’ original location, Salem, Mass., to a fictional harbor town in Washington state — Twilight territory, possibly not incidentally.)
Similarly, it’s been cast with actors who, it goes without saying, are good to look at, but who also bring a little soul to their roles. As in all such romances, much of the matter is conveyed in their meaningful looks, and in looks away. As Cassie, the suddenly orphaned new girl in town, Robertson (Life Unexpected) has something of the lost-blond quality that Sarah Michelle Gellar brought to Buffy a generation of slayers ago. Force-for-chaos Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) describes Cassie as the ‘sad, delicate’ sort, and is herself described in turn, by force-for-order Diana (Shelley Hennig), as the “resident bad girl” — these types are so well established that even the characters know it.”
NY Daily News: “The basic question of who killed Cassie’s mother and why seems as if it could be efficiently resolved in 100 minutes, which suggests the real mission of Secret Circle is to spin itself into the kind of teen soap opera that scores well not just here, but on MTV and ABC Family.”
“Since teens seem amenable to the supernatural in their soaps, that’s not a bad plan, and the core cast here is varied and attractive. While we don’t get deeply into romance yet, that’s clearly in the cards as weeks go by. The Secret Circle isn’t stunning out of the gate. It does seem to understand what it wants and needs to be.”
Salt Lake Tribune: “For programmers at The CW, adding The Secret Circle to its schedule must have been a no-brainer.”…
“The Secret Circle is OK, as supernatural teen dramas go. But nothing to get particularly excited about. The CW is hoping that the vampire fans who tune in at 7 p.m. will stick around to watch the witches at 8 p.m. But two hours of this stuff seems like at least an hour too much.”
Image courtesy The CW.