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.