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May 12, 2014

Liking It: Salem TV Series

Salem
TV Series
Sundays 10/9c
WGN America
Historical | Paranormal
Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, 'Salem' explores what really fueled the town's infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In Salem, witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem.


As an avid reader of books about monsters that go bump in the night, it's only natural that I would gravitate to TV shows of the same nature. SALEM is a new original series aired at WGN America every Sundays and as the show title and poster suggests, it's about witches, warlocks and all kinds of sorcery in Salem, Massachusetts back in the late 1600's. The show premiered last April 20 and it's on episode 4 as of last night.

The plot is essentially an ill fated love story between Captain John Alden (Shane West) and Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery). They were lovers until Alden went to war and was captured. Meanwhile, Mary was dutifully waiting for him, pregnant, until news reached her that Alden was killed in battle. Distraught, Mary reached out to her friend, Tituba (Ashley Madekwe) who is a witch, they went to the forest and performed a rite that basically aborted Mary and Alden's baby. Fast forward to a couple of years, Alden is alive and hastily went back to Salem for Mary. Unfortunately Mary is now married to Salem's preacher and is currently the richest and most influential woman in town. She is now also a powerful witch leading her coven to greater heights whilst terrorizing the townsfolk. Alden, still reeling from the changes and his heartbreak, took it upon himself to get to the bottom of this witch-talk after his friend and mentor was accused and hanged as a warlock. He will now stop at nothing til he exposes the identity of these evil fiends. 

Two people in love but playing for the opposite team is the main gist of SALEM and the phrase "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" is very much evident in Mary's character. I like SALEM's plot, if I were to focus on the flow, the intrigue and deception, I could totally get into the story. I mean the Salem Witch Trials is a very infamous and dark time in this country's history so there's already an element of fascination and curiosity given to the setting. The producers also aren't holding back on the shock factor and special effects involving various livestock and wild animals with the expected hangings, exorcisms, possessions and various devil worship rites. It can be gruesome so proceed with caution before you start watching the show, some parts are crude and not for the faint of heart. The romantic angle is quite interesting too, a righteous man in love with the Head Bitch of town maybe formulaic but effective not to mention the moral conflict Mary is in while Alden's love and loyalty to Mary is bound to be tested when the proverbial shit hits the fan. 

What makes me balk is the horrible acting! Goodness gracious! Clearly these actors are just eye candy but there's much to be desired when it comes to the portrayal of their characters. I'm no film critic and this article is just a knee-jerk reaction to what I've seen so far and I'm not pleased. If I were to translate it in book-blogger-talk, I love the plot but I don't connect with the characters because they're flat and lack dimensions. I didn't even recognize Shane West! Amongst the cast he is the WORST IMO like WTF is up with his voice projection? With Janet Montgomery coming a close second, I'm impressed with her haughty demeanor but given her backstory, I have yet to see her conflicted and vulnerable side to contrast with her Bitch side. A disappointment not only because West and Montgomery are the leads but they have no onscreen chemistry at all. As of this moment, I'm not rooting for these two, I could care less if they end up together or not. The supporting cast are hit and miss as well but compared to West and Montgomery, I'd say the secondary characters and their storylines are what's keeping me watching at this point. They're more interesting than Mary and Alden to me.

That said I'm a bit invested in the plot, maybe I'm a masochist but I'd like to know how this is all going to unravel because I want to see Mary Sibley and her cohorts hang and to be fair, I love the setting and the special effects and horror factor is on the same level as American Horror Story so it's not all that bad. If only the main characters can improve on their skills, all would be well.

Click here to watch complete episodes of SALEM.








40 comments:

  1. Saw the previews for this, but wasn't interested. OMG, I'm laughing at your description of the acting here. Hopefully its gets better :)

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  2. I'm so glad this going good! I liked the first episode enough, but I thought I would give it a couple more to make my decision for sure. Now I have fallen more than a few episodes behind so I'll wait to see it all at once on Netflix or Amazon prime. It just seems that I enjoy series more that way. Except for The Walking Dead and GoT, those I have to watch right away.

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    1. Yeah I suggest you do that, you may end up not liking it. I'm barely hanging on, if the acting doesn't improve I don't think I'll continue watching this.

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  3. I watch plenty of dark and creepy shows (i.e. AHS, Hannibal just to name a few) so I thought I would love this. I watched two episodes and wasn't impressed. The acting wasn't great and some scenes were just too disturbing, even for me! I deleted it from my DVR and never looked back. I hope it gets better for you, I just couldn't invest any more time to it with so many other shows to watch...LOL

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    1. I feel ya, I'll give it a few more episodes if not there's always Penny Dreadful

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    2. I caught an early premiere of Penny Dreadful and loved it, that's a show I'll be watching! :)

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  4. Bad acting?? No thanks that drives me crazy. Even though I like the premise, I am to the point where I don't invest in a new show anymore unless I know it is going to stick around. I am so tired of starting series only to find it cancelled a few episodes in. I was reading in the paper the other day all the series that got axed this year. So frustrating.

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    1. So true! Some of those shows are good too and then you see Keeping Up With The Kardashians and go WTF is wrong with this picture?

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  5. I just find Salem so sad, the real one that is, a bunch of idiots killing innocent women

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    1. It's for that reason why I watch the show, historically speaking, it is very sad

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  6. Creepy! This really isn't my thing, but I would give it a try just because of Shane West. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. OMG don't expect too much, he's so blah here

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  7. This looks hardcore creepy and not for me, but sounds like it is amaing if you like that sort of thing

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    1. Oh I love the gore I just wish the acting is as strong as the special effects.

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  8. Well, if this would've been a book, I would have bought it just for that "cover"!! Freaking amazing poster, or whatever it is they're called, lol.

    I get the feeling TV shows and movies as of late tend to go sort of toward unidemensional characters, don't you? I mean, I'm no movie critic or anything ofc, but a couple years back I'd watch a movie, or even TV show, and feel just so freaking awestruck and tingly all over about someone's acting. Doesn't really happen anymore lately, good stories, little focus on the characters somehow. Good stories are important, but without a main character there to get me emotionally involved it's just another story, another good story, out of zounds I've come to know, you know?

    Anyway, awesome idea to talk about it, I might give those episodes a go just because of the pure win of that poster :D I'm a aarcore coverwh0re, I know, I know, lol!

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    1. I agree with you, I know there's an abundance of actors in the Hollywood HIlls so I'm sure they can get someone better. I blame it on the casting director.

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  9. Keep me updated on if their acting gets better lol

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    1. I don't think that's going to happen so don't expect updates on that regard from me

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  10. I'm like the most oblivious person ever when it comes to what's on TV because I had no clue this was on, lol. It sounds like this has a great premise, but the acting leaves a lot to be desired, and bad acting is a big no for me.

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    1. It is painful to watch sometimes, what I do is I blog while it's on and just look once in a while LOL

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  11. Meh, I pretty much gave up on this. It felt like they were trying to hard to be shocking. And the acting ... eh.

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    1. I like the shock factor, it's logical to the plot, it's gruesome but I'm with you on the acting

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  12. That first image is creeptastic, Braine! As you know, I don't watch tv, so I haven't heard of this. Interesting premise though. Too bad there's bad acting. Of course, it's obviously interesting enough to keep you hooked! ;)

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    1. I think they prioritized who looked good on TV and the acting chops was secondary. I'm hooked coz of the plot, to be fair the writers did good on that

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  13. oh the picture is really creepy! I skipped your review a little bit because I haven't watched episode 1 yet but it's on my to do list. I'm soooooooo late with the TV shows it's terrible. I work a lot and I finally prefer to read when at home. But soon. Like that I can come back and compare my feelings.

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    1. That's OK, I'm surprised you have this in France! I watch this after GoT so that may be another reason why I'm so critical of the acting. After an hour of a great show with amazing actors, my standard is set to HIGH and Shane West & Co. aren't meeting the target

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    2. No we don't, I see them in streaming, we often need to wait 1 year to have them in French but the voices are terrible. Never tried GOT either. I can understand you see a little more the problems.

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  14. I love the twist of the witches controlling everything. I almost didn't watch this show because I thought "Yeah, heard this story a million times" but boy was I wrong. Everything is so different and more interesting. And yes, gruesome! But I agree, the characters are falling flat for me.

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    1. Cool, you watch it too! I should tweet you on Sundays just to vent or something

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  15. Eh... I saw previews for this show and thought I should give it a try, then I forgot all about it. :) Thanks for reminding me! I shall look it up again. Though I'm a little worried, since you say acting is no good.

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    1. Still give it a try, there are some other great elements that's worth checking out.

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  16. LOL. Horrible acting will get me every time, but just like you, if I'm invested in the story enough, I'll keep watching. Masochist indeed. And how creepy is that . . . whatever it is. Do TV shows get movie-style posters now too?

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    1. Right?! The poster is amazing! Being in the digital age sure has it's visual perks

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  17. This sounds like a fun TV show Braine.... Will be keen to see it down here in Aus!!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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    1. If it does reach Aus, let me know what you think if in case you end up watching it.

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  18. MG and I have watched 3 episodes of this and I'm still not into it. I'm okay with witches being real and all that but I just don't understand why I should care about any of the people. I really don't see how their ill-fated love story is enough to keep that show going. I despise her and he...well, I'm not that into him either. His voice annoys the crap out of me lol And you're right about the chemistry being zilch. I liked the fornicator (Isaac) the best but not enough to keep watching.

    However Penny Dreadful...we watched the pilot of that one on Hulu and I am totally on board!! I'm not even hot on that Hartnett guy but the show's style is much cooler and the plot is a little clearer.

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    1. Salem - Ugh! West's voice is like claws grating on chalkboard.

      Penny Dreadful - I have the biggest crush on Eva Green, I will watch that show just for her. Luckily the premise is great, very goth and a great amalgam of classics.

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  19. Hmmmm...this is definitely up my alley. I've always been interested in dark and twisty TV shows and you reminded me that I need to catch up on American Horror Story Season 3! Thanks for the full ep link too! Will be checking this out :D man, I'm out of touch with TV shows. I need to catch up on Bitten too! I've only seen two episodes!

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    1. Bitten I want to watch. My problem with Bitten is it's not on my favorite channel so I forget. Will probably watch it either online or hulu instead. YW on the episode links ;)

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