[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "The Secret Circle"
The Pitch: "Get me the most compatible show to 'Vampire Diaries' you can find." "How does same writer working from a book by the same author sound?" "Aces."
Quick Response: Y'all know I'm a "Vampire Diaries" fan. It made my Top 10 list for 2010 and even if it doesn't rank that high for this year, it remains a pleasure I watch without an iota of guilt. "The Secret Circle," at least in its pilot, doesn't seem as good as "Vampire Diaries" at its best, but "Vampire Diaries" wasn't as good as "Vampire Diaries" at its best when it premiered in the fall of 2009. So I guess what I can say about "The Secret Circle" is that it feels like a really compatible match with "Vampire Diaries," though I think it probably skews a bit younger and a bit more female. There's still a common backdrop of a young girl (Britt Robertson) in a town with a supernatural history becoming immeshed in romance, a family legacy and other unnatural oddness. As fans of "Life Unexpected" (I was one... until I wasn't) know, Robertson is a pretty capable young actress within in a specific, limited range and this definitely is asking less of her than her previous short-lived CW melodrama did. I can assure you, though, that whatever her character on "The Secret Circle" is actually named, she's only going to be "Lux" in my notes. The other known quantities in the pilot include a solid Thomas Dekker, plus Gale Harold and Natasha Henstridge who are facing the ignominy of being The Older Generation by The CW standards. Harold is having a particularly good time being hammy and probably-evil, which may be The CW's way of rewarding him for that time he wasted on "Hellcats" last year. My instinct could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the breakout star of "The Secret Circle" is going to be Phoebe Tonkin, the only one of the show's unfamiliar co-stars whose name I went out of my way to learn before the 44 minutes were up. My big fear goes back to something I mentioned when I reviewed the "True Blood" premiere: When witches are too powerful, they make for pretty weak ongoing drama (in my opinion) and this coven is too strong too soon and that leaves me immediately distanced. [Side note: A little diversity really wouldn't hurt this show. I'd hate to think The CW figures that since "Nikita" has an Asian lead, it can return to being mostly a network of pretty, skinny, young white kids. I guess "Hart of Dixie" star Cress Williams is gonna have to represent.]
Desire To Watch Again: I don't want to say my desire to watch again is "strong," but this has the makings of the sort of CW show I could happily watch regularly. We'll see how I actually accomplish that feat, given the brutal time period.
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
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Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
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All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.
Everything: Fall TV Preview
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