Comic-Con 2011: THE SECRET CIRCLE Pilot Screening and Panel Recap

     July 26, 2011


CW’s newest supernatural series, The Secret Circle, had a fun-filled pilot screening Saturday night in Room 6BCF. Despite a line that wrapped out of the building and by some nether-region of the San Diego Convention Center, I was shuffled through the doors in time to sit down and immediately soak the screening in. I’ll be upfront now, though: CW shows usually aren’t my thing. However, by the amount of catcalls and swoons, I can see that they have clearly worked out a niche market and aren’t going to stop in the near future. Following the pilot screening, we were treated to an all-too-brief Q&A with the stars and crew. Hit the jump for my thoughts on the pilot and a recap of the panel.

THE-SECRET-CIRCLE-PICTURED-Thomas-Dekker-and-Brittany-RobertsonCassie Blake (Britt Robertson) has moved in with her grandmother and is the new kid at high school. Yet, somehow the older adults seems to immediately recognize her. The tragic death of her mother is constantly brought up as strangers give her pity. However, that’s not the only odd part of the town.

A select few teenagers start to single out Cassie, and before long they reveal why they keep pestering her. Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), Nick (Louis Hunter), Adam (Thomas Dekker), Diana (Shelley Hennig), and Sally (Logan Browning) are part of a secret circle of witches and wizards, and their families are connected in myth. Cassie inherited her mother’s witchcraft abilities, and they want her to join them. Why they want her in the group isn’t initially revealed, but there is an interesting dynamic that suddenly springs to life when it is.

High school is full of exploration for some, and the ignorance of your own mortality is part of the issue. These teens seem to enjoy pushing the boundaries, especially Faye. This rebellious witch is pushy and not afraid to have fun at other people’s expenses, especially Cassie’s upon arrival. Cassie is going to be the surrogate audience for the show, but she doesn’t reveal all of her cards up front. Instead, we are left wondering why she has such hesitation to join the group and why she is so back and forth at times. There are also romantic sparks that fly, and we can feel an attraction between Cassie and Adam, though he is presently with Diana (oops!). As with a show about witchcraft, there is some magic on display and right now it is fairly innocent and plain.

However, there are moments of darkness as well. Cassie’s mom had an accident that resulted in her own secret circle wanting to stay quiet. At this point the reason why are still kept under lock and key, but it will be explored as the series progresses. Again, there are some dark moments that occur with the parents of Cassie’s new friends. I wonder how dark the series will get, and those familiar with the slate of CW shows may be able to tell how dark this one will get based on that. I must also mention the numerous sexual innuendos, whether on accident or on purpose. The tone seems to suggest it is purposeful, and the use of quick edits and jumping in and out of dialogue leads to some moments that had the whole crowd rolling.

There aren’t many shows on television right now that focus on witchcraft, especially since Charmed left the air so many years ago. However, there is a flurry of supernatural television shows on all levels of television and this one might be right up your alley. The series itself is based on a fairly known commodity: a series of young adult novels by the same author that gave us The Vampire Diaries—L.J. Smith. The panel itself was short because the pilot aired a little bit later than expected. The panel included creator Kevin Williamson, stars Natasha Henstridge (she plays Diana’s mother), Britt Robertson, Phoebe Tonkin, Thomas Dekker, and executive producer Andrew Miller.

THE-SECRET-CIRCLE-Brittany-RobertsonOne of the first questions focused on how close they will stick to the source material. Kevin Williamson mentioned that they are working from wonderful source material and have a ton to work with. Robertson was then asked how it was to work with the magical elements, and she said it was the best part of the show, saying she was “thrilled” by it. As for Tonkin, she joked it was old hat a bit, though she enjoyed going from a mermaid to a witch.

Another questioner mentioned that because they share similar sources in terms of writers, would we see vampires in this show from The Vampire Diaries? Robertson laughed and said, “Crossover, yea!” However, Williamson did note that while they did share source authors, the worlds would stay separate. The next question focused on the character of Faye and how far she would go down the path of darkness. Tonkin responded that she will definitely become more dangerous as the show moves on, but added that there is potential for good as well. The final question focused on how much fun it was to shoot “the kiss,” something I won’t go into detail for now. Robertson revealed that that was the first scene shot between Dekker and herself. Dekker also joked that there were two very different takes on that scene.

Overall, if you are looking for some teenage angst mixed with witchcraft and love, CW has your show. At times hokey, and at times unintentionally hilarious, the show seems to be more of the same that you might expect from CW. Whether that is a good thing or a bad one is up to you. The series has been picked up for a full season based on this pilot and will air on the CW September 15.