Monday, April 28, 2014

TV Review: SALEM

With the popularity of current paranormal primetime TV dramas on the rise like the CW's ongoing series Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, the unlikely channel WGN America begins airing new original programming beginning with SALEM. Salem is in fact a Supernatural hour-long TV drama focusing on witches and witchcraft and drawing its inspiration from the historical events occurring in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. However, the show is not without it's own dramatic license in perpetrating the widely-held belief that there were in fact witches in Salem and as it does so through the very graphic depiction of witch-like activities, not to mention it's overuse of nudity, sexuality and violence on level with Game of Thrones to increase their ratings. The show stars Shane West as John Alden Jr., having returned to Salem long after being thought killed during the French and Indian Wars having learned that Salem is suffering a witch hysteria led by the Reverend Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) and his once beloved Mary (Janet Montgomery) is now married to the wealthy landowner George Sibley (Michael Mulheren). With her servant/confidant Tituba (Ashley Madekwe) they have concealed the fact from John that she was pregnant and in a bizarre ritual aided by Tituba, "got rid of" the baby. As conspiracy, panic and fear spread through the town John tries to find out the dark truth behind these witch hunts! While the shows' premise holds some fascination within the genre of horror/supernatural/witchcraft, the flagrant historical inaccuracies of the characters and events only further add to the false history and myth of one of early America's darkest and most mysterious periods in history and is a mockery to those 20 real people who died because of it. I have always held a great fascination with Salem and the Witch Trials and have even visited the site myself and while the story still resonates within popular culture from the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller which is also a fictionalization of those events holds more truths than this new TV show from the writers of Terra Nova and the director of Girls.