The CW is hoping that if you are a fan of “The Vampire Diaries” you’ll stick around for “The Secret Circle,” which premieres right afterward. This isn’t really a false hope on their part – the DNA of the two shows are so similar that you’d be forgiven if you tuned in for one and confused it for the other. Of course, there are some clear differences; “The Secret Circle” is about teenagers who are exploring their magical abilities as witches rather than teenagers encountering and dealing with vampires. The author of the popular “Vampire Diaries” books also penned “The Secret Circle” novels, from which the new show is derived. Further, the same producers behind “Diaries” are behind “Circle.” See? They’re practically fraternal twins as tv shows.
“The Secret Circle” centers on a girl named Cassie Blake, played by Britt Robertson, formerly of The CW’s “Life Unexpected.” Cassie’s mother has died in a terrible fire, and now Cassie has gone to her grandmother’s house to live. Cassie soon discovers that there’s a lot to learn about her mother’s past, which has always been kept purposely vague for Cassie’s benefit. It’s no spoiler to say that Cassie meets some of her classmates and is told she has remarkable power, though she doesn’t see it quite yet. Wouldn’t you know it, her family has magical abilities, dating back to the 1600s, and she shares those abilities with members of five other families. Those six make up the Secret Circle.
It’s a lot for Cassie to swallow and her new friends, the other five members of the circle ranging from earnest and helpful Diana to bitchy and conniving Faye. To try to ease her transition into her new witchy life is Adam Conant, played by Thomas Dekker of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” notoriety. Dekker and Robertson have immediate chemistry as do their characters, but it won’t be easy for the two of them – Adam is dating Diana, and so the soap opera begins.
Meanwhile, the parents of some of these kids seem to be keeping the teens in the dark, most for their own good since some tragic accident in their past killed some of the members of the Circle. Those who are left are either deathly afraid of their children tampering with their magical powers or they are purposefully guiding them toward their supernatural abilities for reasons yet unknown. It all makes for a lot of interpersonal conflict right from the start.
The pilot is a really solid piece of work, introducing all of the characters, their personalities and relationships to each other, relating critical bits of information about the past and setting up the drama to come. While it is not the best pilot ever produced, and there are certainly some clunky moments of dialog and exposition, it is a really great example of how to get your audience ready to embrace a new show.
While I am a little older than the target audience member for the show, I’m intrigued enough by the premise to keep an eye on the show. I’ve regretted that I didn’t stick with “Vampire Diaries” after the pilot (which was not nearly as well crafted as “Secret Circle”) and that show only improved as it moved forward. If “The Secret Circle” can stay on track, it has the potential to meet and even exceed its predecessor in quality and the audience.
Suffice to say, it appears that The CW has a solid hit on their hands, no magic required.
“The Secret Circle” premieres Thursday September 15th on The CW at 9 PM Eastern/Pacific.