WGN America will debut their first scripted series, “Salem”, this coming Sunday, April 20th, at 10p/9c.
I was lucky enough to see the pilot presentation ahead of the premiere and wanted to share some brief thoughts before you guys head into a new series.
Tonally, I like what WGNA did here; “Salem” isn’t pandering to teens or playing it safe, they’re going all-in on being a softer version of an HBO series. I’d say the perfect comparison would be an FX series as “Salem” carries a similar tone in terms of blood, sex and violence as “American Horror Story.” I might even go as far as to say the sex is about as risqué as I’ve seen on the softer side of cable.
The settings and design were also strong, although it felt a bit constricted in terms of scope. I can only assume we’ll venture out of Salem in future episodes.
Something I’ve noticed here on Bloody is the obsession with “Bates Motel” mommy Vera Farmiga. I can assure those of you who fixated on Vera that you’ll be mesmerized by Janet Montgomery, the series lead. Much like Jessica Lange’s character in all of the “American Horror Story” seasons, it’s a bit unclear if Montgomery is good or bad; either way she carries a crazy strong presence that’s captivating.Another interesting note is that, between the gore and action, I could see shades of Sam Raimi.
But my biggest issue with the pilot is that the overall arc is extremely unclear (the witches are planning a civil war?), and I couldn’t really figure out what the characters’ goals were – why do they do what they do? It made me ask myself more than once, “Why am I watching this?” I want to know what we’re working towards.
Still, the first episode was “just okay,” which is my review for pretty much any series pilot. It’s way too small of a sample size to recommend, but it didn’t annoy me, so that’s something.