Then the casting started, and Britt Robertson, who I've adored since the pilot of Life Unexpected, signed up. And she was joined by more and more people I was excited about, like Gale Harold and Thomas Dekker.
So by the time last night's premiere rolled around, I was feeling pretty confident that I would enjoy the show. That said, my expectations weren't too high. For one thing, pilot episodes are often a bit disappointing - there's so much stuff to set up that they're not normally a good representation of what's to come. And, as many people have pointed out, the Vampire Diaries pilot was dire (as much of a fan as I am, it took me ages to get through the first part of season one).
To sum up, I was excited but cautious. And I'm glad, because it meant I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, there were definitely some cheesy moments in the opener - the first line is a bit of waffle about "destiny" and that sort of thing, which isn't quite what I'm into. That said, it made a lot more sense by the end of the episode, and sometimes a bit of cheese isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Robertson was good, too, though I was already a fan of hers. She had quite a hard time in this first episode - she has to go from a happy, normal teenager, to a girl who's just lost her mum, to someone struggling to come to terms with the fact that she's a witch (dum dum dum). Largely, she managed this well.
I was particularly taken with the moment when fellow witch Diana is urging Robertson's character Cassie to accept her powers, but all Cassie can do is sob and insist that it can't be true because her mother would have told her. Her follow-up question: "Why didn't she tell me?" is quite heartbreaking. Of course it's a ridiculous situation that other teens are unlikely to find themselves in, but the realisation that your parents aren't as perfect as you believed will resonate widely - and it's all the more loaded now that Cassie's mother is dead.
In fact, I was quite impressed with the way everything was dealt with in the pilot (with the exception, perhaps, of the predictable 'love triangle' storyline, though I'm open to seeing where that goes). Cassie's slow realisation of her magic was nice - I liked the way that the glow in the dark stars on her ceiling moved, and the fact that the first time it scared her and the second time it made her smile. The water-levitating moment with Adam in the woods was also beautifully done. I was pleased to see that Cassie didn't automatically accept her magic - instead, she almost actively fought against it. I do hope that she will continue to struggle with it in the future rather than passively accepting that she can do witchy things now.
Praise also has to go to the cast, both older and younger. It is nice to see some intriguing adult characters - Ethan, Charles and Dawn are all people I want to see more of. And it's fun that Charles and Dawn, at least, are the villains - teens always want to fight against adults, so it's good, solid wish-fulfilment stuff (once the characters inevitably realise what's going on, of course).
The young cast is great too, although we obviously haven't seen their full potential yet. The standout has to be Phoebe Tonkin as Faye - alright, so she's a little over the top, but there's the seed of a very interesting character there. Not only can we look forward to her little feud with Diana (side note: I love that the members of the circle actually aren't great friends), but I'm hoping we get to see more of her obsession with her magic. I absolutely loved the sequence where she turned off the lights on the pier, caused a storm, and then was unable to stop it, no matter how hard she tried. If we get an examination of how the powers are threatening to overwhelm the members of the circle, that would be fantastic.
There are, then, definitely things to look forward to. Obviously Charles and Dawn are up to no good, but why exactly do they need Cassie? It must be something pretty good if they're willing to kill her mother (or are they just ruthless? Either would be fun). And I do think that this show could legitimately be quite creepy - the scene where Charles used his magic to make Ethan feel as if he was drowning (complete with coughing up water) was really not very nice at all. It was also an unexpected power, even if it wasn't groundbreaking. This show really has a blank canvas when it comes to what it wants its characters to do, so really it all rests on just how inventive and creative the writers can be (with Williamson on board, I have hope in this regard).
So while The Secret Circle isn't perfect, it has definite potential. The pilot set a good grounding, and it'll be interesting to see whether the show can truly live up to what it's promising over the next couple of weeks. I'll certainly be tuning in, even though the theme tune is a creepy child singing a lullaby...
What did you think of The Secret Circle? Leave your comments below!