Witches of East End

When it comes to television, there always seems to be a drought of shows about witches. Sure, you had Samantha Stevens in Bewitched and the long-running WB show Charmed. But that's about it. Oh, well there's also Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Secret Circle. And I just remembered that show The Gates had witches in it, too. And witches show up all over True Blood and Willow was a witch in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So, I guess television is somewhat saturated with witches at this point.

Anyway, I heard about the new show on Lifetime, The Witches of East End, and for some reason decided to give it a shot. As a rule, I avoid Lifetime like the plague. There's only so many made-for-TV movie-dramas about single motherhood and date rape a guy can take. Not to mention the fact that those dramas tend to be such poorly directed pieces of shit that they would be torturous to sit through even if the main character was John McClane. I held out hope that Lifetime got a little bolder in their programming.

What false hope that was.

Instead of summing up the episode, I'll just quote the copy from Lifetime directly.
Centers on the adventures of a mother and her two adult daughters, both of whom unknowingly are their family's next generation of witches, who lead seemingly quiet, uneventful modern day lives in Long Island's secluded seaside town of North Hampton. When one of the daughters becomes engaged to a young, wealthy newcomer, a series of events forces her mother to admit to her daughters they are, in fact, powerful and immortal witches. 
The series is based on the novels by Melissa De La Cruz and offers a simple enough plot; an evil presence wants to destroy Joanna and her daughters for some yet unrevealed reason. This presence has the power to look like Joanna but with yellow eyes, which is convenient for the audience so that they don't get confused about which character they are watching at any specific time.

Tarot cards. Because witches.
The pilot focuses on Joanna's younger daughter, Freya, and her engagement to worst named character ever, Dash Gardiner. But she soon cuckolds him by engaging in a passionate secret relationship with his brother, Killian, all because of a mysterious dream she had. Her annoyingness knows no bounds from the get go, right from the moment that she accepts she has special powers because she "made" her future mother-in-law choke "with her mind". Everything she does is completely senseless and only happens because the show has to advance somehow. Freya is an unbelievable character which, I guess, is perfect for a Lifetime show.

At first, I considered Ingrid to be the most interesting character, just based on the way she reacted to Freya's senseless acceptance of having special powers. But then she suggested to her possibly-infertile friend to do a fertility spell to help her get pregnant. This came so far out of left field for a person that, we assume, is pretty rational minded that it just seems ridiculous. The idea that she studies the history of magic and witchcraft coincidentally to her lineage as a witch was enough of a stretch as it is but to see her jump head-long into such a preposterous idea... That was it for me.

But characterization isn't the only thing that's bad about that show. The dialogue itself is pretty much terrible. Or at least, the over use of it. Everything is spelled out for the viewer through multiple info-dumps, from the girls' magical history to the plan of the evil entity at the end. Considering how close to the vest the show played with the vendetta the shape-shifter has against the family, it's surprising that they would reveal the family curse so soon into the first episode. But, what can you expect from Lifetime?

The entire episode, summed up in one image.
For the most part, the acting isn't too bad. Rachel Boston does well enough with Ingrid, flowing through the episode with a wild-eyed wonder at everything that happens to her. She seems to understand that she isn't supposed to believe she's a witch and tries to come to terms with it. The short-falls in her portrayal are definitely due to the poor writing rather than her acting ability.

Julia Ormand's Joanna and Madchen Amick's Wendy are tolerable. They play off each other well and have a pretty decent on-screen chemistry. Really, the worst part of the show is Freya, played by Jenna Dewan-Tatum. She basically has two modes, sex-starved kitten and "WTF", with very little in between. She has just about as much acting talent as her husband Channing, which of course isn't saying much. Just like Channing, it's a good thing she's pretty.

Regardless of the source material (which I can't comment on as I've never read it), in the right hands, The Witches of East End could be something good. Sadly, I don't think that Lifetime is the right hands for this show. They tried to push the envelope a bit, dropping a couple "shit"s into the dialogue, but for the most part, they play it way too safe to contend with the current range of supernatural shows on the air. Imagine if the WB developed Charmed without the witty dialogue, characterization and interesting plots and instead made it a long-string of cliff-hanger endings and soap opera storylines. Yeah, that's pretty much sums up The Witches of East End.


  1. Dang. Have it on my DVR and was hoping for the best. :(

  2. I feel your pain. I was hoping it would be kind of like Charmed with a little bit of "The Craft" sprinkled in. Unfortunately, it's more like All My Children with witches.

  3. Tries too hard to be Charmed, even the house looks like the Charmed sisters' house, but it fails. Loved Charmed trying to like this.


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