It may seem ridiculous to complain that "The Secret Circle," Kevin Williamson's new teen-witch show on the CW, isn't very believable, especially considering that Williamson is also the creator of the network's enduringly addictive "The Vampire Diaries."
But there are moments in "The Secret Circle," premiering at 9 tonight, when you're likely to fall into mini fits of giggling at the show's implausibility.
In addition to the vampire thing, Williamson was also the guy behind the soapy teen drama "Dawson's Creek," which may explain at least part of the genesis for "Circle." Basically, what he's done is to take the hormone-fueled teenage angst of "Creek" and pump it into a story about a secret circle of young witches and warlocks in the improbably named town of Chance Harbor, Wash. The formula still works fine for "Diaries," which, not coincidentally, launches its new season just before the premiere of "Circle," but it doesn't quite work here. Is it just because, with film and TV awash with vampires, we find it easier to suspend disbelief in long-toothed blood suckers than we do in a bunch of high schoolers who can make drops of water hover in mid-air, cars erupt in flames and thunderstorms descend out of nowhere?
Nope. It isn't.
It's about believable plot, depth of writing and knowing enough to stay away from overused "types" instead of credible characters.
The premise of the show is that pretty blond Cassie (Britt Robertson) loses her mom in a witch-sparked fire and repairs to Chance Harbor to live with her grandmother. On her first day at a new school, she encounters, in short order, the Mean Girl, Faye Chamberlain (Phoebe Tonkin); the Good Girl, Diana (Shelley Hennig); the Cute Boy Who's In Love With the Good Girl but Who's Hot to Lock Lips With Cassie, Adam (Thomas Dekker); the Mean Girl's Somewhat Less Mean Sidekick, Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy); and the Cute But Nerdy Other Guy, Nick (Louis Hunter). Among the grown-ups, Natasha Henstridge plays the school principal and Gale Harold is a witch dad.
Turns out that all of these kids are basically the Campfire Girls and Cub Scouts of a now-broken secret circle of grown-up witches, half of whom died in some mysterious way years before, leaving all the kids to be raised in single-witch households. By the way, for some odd reason, the sons of witches (I just wanted to write that, sorry) are not called warlocks here. As in so many films and TV shows in this genre, the supernatural stuff is somewhat secondary to impossibly attractive teenagers in love and lust. That alone doesn't mean it has to be bad - witness MTV's "Teen Wolf," which found the prettiest teenagers in Hollywood and gave them a compelling story, credible plot twists and adequate dialogue to speak.
None of this is likely to matter to anyone over 17, because "Circle" is aimed at a teenage audience. At least, I hope it is, because if the CW thinks the show will be a hit with adults, the network must be run by chimps
E-mail David Wiegand at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more: 'The Secret Circle' review: Too hard to believe