Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Secret Circle Pilot Recap

I have a confession to make - as a teenager, there was little I loved more than reading a book by L.J. Smith. I am one of those die-hard fans who has been waiting over ten years for the Night World series to be brought to conclusion by Strange Fate (and since the release date keeps being pushed back, very well could be waiting ten more; admittedly, it is nice to see I am not alone in my frustration). I bought a set of pastels after reading the Dark Visions trilogy, and definitively discovered that my artistic talent is non-existent. I was kind of pissed that Jenny picked Tom over Julian. Repeatedly. (In the Forbidden Games trilogy.) Yet one of my favorite stories was that of shy Cassie Blake, who meets her soulmate, discovers her own inner power, and becomes strong and less shy in the course of The Secret Circle trilogy.

I was a little nervous when I learnt they had decided to make a Secret Circle television show. I mean, look at what they did with The Vampire Diaries. Don't get me wrong - the TV show is addicting -- but it doesn't follow the books.

The Secret Circle, on the other hand, isn't even a good TV show. The only thing they got right is the cliffhanger at the end. Anyway (note the lack of an "s," b/c I try to use proper grammar), I decided to try my hand at this whole recap thing. Here are my impressions of The Secret Circle pilot:

First of all, the beginning pissed me off. I guess it was supposed to be suspenseful and start the show off with a bang of something. I really felt, however, that in trying to make Cassie appear strong and resourceful (rather than the shy, awkward character she is IN THE BOOK), they really more managed to make her mother appear unintelligent and cliched. Her mother is at home, cooking dinner. Cassie called her, and kind of sounded, initially, like she wanted help. But obviously that's wrong. Because CASSIE knows how to change a tire, guys. She didn't get this from her mom, who can only sit on the side of the road, watching her daughter perform miraculous feats on her automobile. Except Cassie doesn't even want her mom to do that. Can't the woman just stay at home & have dinner ready when she's done with this manual labor?

Except Cassie's mother can't even do THAT right, because she gets killed by this guy who uses magic to conjure a fire. I mean, her mom doesn't really seem to try that hard to get out of the kitchen. But whatevs. It's "suspenseful," and she dies like she lived - in the kitchen. (Seriously, that "in the kitchen" shit REALLY bothered me.)

Then, the credits roll. & there's some really bad little girl singing a nonsensical song. I think it's supposed to sound magical and mystical or something, but it actually just seems clunky and overreaching.

OMG - Natasha Henstridge, from "She Spies!" I hope her character on this show is as awesome as Cassie ("She Spies" Cassie, not "Secret Circle" Cassie).

There's something a little disconcerting about all of these teen hangouts on television - like no small town just has a Taco Bell that all of the teens go to, like here in the real world. Taco Bell is awesome, cheap, and has food that is incredibly bad for you, guys. Its' greasy food helps exacerbate your acne, so that your teenage years are miserable and you are a target for ProActive infomercials. THIS IS THE WAY HIGH SCHOOL WORKS.

Where is the soulmate interaction between Adam & Cassie? That's what MAKES an L.J. Smith book. It's an important part of this series, and I wasn't even impressed by the "initial attraction" reaction between Adam & Cassie in this pilot. I mean, seriously, I'll take the ridiculous mooning looks that pass between Bill & Sookie in the "True Blood" pilot over the lackadaisical "I'm semi-attracted to you" bullshit I'm seeing on this show.

The spells on this show - or rather commands spoken in a deadpan manner to nature - seem really lame. There must be a way to make the magic on this show more interesting.

Overall, my impression is that the CW needs to fire the casting director for this show. I mean - ugh. Faye Chamberlain is played by a very pretty girl. But she doesn't seem like a bad girl. She talks way too much like a sweetheart to pull off the "bad girl" persona. Cassie is not shy enough, not sweet enough to be Smith's character. Maybe they gave her edge to make her more likeable, like they did with Fannie Price in "Mansfield Park." If that's the case, it didn't work. At times, Cassie is hard when it makes no sense for her to be. Yet, overall, I am exasperated at the fact that SHE IS NOT SHY. This characteristic is one of the initial definitive ones regarding Cassie Blake. Britt Robertson plays tough and cute very well - but she's not playing Cassie Blake. She's playing the same character I've seen her play before, except that it doesn't work as well with the dialogue for this show.

I DO plan to watch the next few episodes, to see if the show gets better. After all, the pilot is generally the most clunky episode of a television show. At the moment, however, I hold out little hope, and recommend that you read the book instead.


darci said...

I'm really glad that Britt Robertson is getting another chance at a lead role - I loved her in Life Unexpected and was so bummed when that show was cancelled. Also loved that they used MNDR's "I Go Away" in the first scene of the show - really got me excited (watch at

While I was kind of apprehensive when i read the show description, thinking it might be a little too cookie-cutter, the pilot was very solid. The show has good tone - it's the right mix of dark without being depressive, and it had excellent pacing, which is often overlooked. I'm excited to see if Britt can take this role and run with it!

Shelly Quade said...

Thanks for commenting, darci!

As a show, I would agree, "The Secret Circle" isn't bad, and it's kind of addictive. In a cheesy, teenage drama kind of way. But it's not L.J. Smith's "Secret Circle," which made me kind of sad, particularly as I was under the impression that this show was supposed to remain more faithful to Smith's books, or at least her characters.