THE WITCHES OF EAST END
Joanna Beauchamp - Julia Ormond
Wendy Beauchamp - Madchen Amick
Freya Beauchamp - Jenna Dewan-Tatum
Ingrid Beauchamp - Rachel Boston
Dash Gardiner - Eric winter
Killian Gardiner -Daniel Di Tomasso
Penelope Gardiner -Virginia Madsen
OTHER WITCHING HOURS
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The Secret Circle
Joanna Beauchamp has a secret; she is a witch. So is her sister, Wendy, who can turn into a cat and her two daughters, who are in the habit of dying a lot. This time Joanna is determined that they will live and has hidden their nature from them. The arrival of vengeful shapeshifter and a jilted boyfriend from a previous life puts Freya in danger, forcing the secret into the open.
EASTWICK, a series about a trio of witches in a small community lasted one season. There is a very great deal of similarity between the two. Attractive women discovering latent powers and supernatural dangers, unfeasibly attractive surroundings, lots of luxury on show, dangerous and alluring relationships... so many similarities. In this pilot, there is little to suggest that THE WITCHES OF EAST END will last any longer.
The cast is led by names Julia Ormond and Madchen Amick, but they are giving performances that are long on pantomime and light on subtlety. That's fair enough because there's almost no subtlety on display here. This is not a show to be taken seriously, this is a show that is setting itself up to be guilty pleasure. Almost nothing that happens is surprising and the familiarity of the storylines is there to create a sense of comfort.
There's so much activity that there's hardly time to take breath, but that's part of the tactics as well. If the show never stops to catch a breath then the audience might not notice the paper-thin plot and dodgy performances.
It's only the pilot, but there is already so much room for improvement.Top
With Freya trapped in a painting with a killer, Joanna in prison accused of murder and Wendy dead, it's up to Ingrid to save her sister.
The second episode continues at the same breathless rate as the pilot, trying to hide the fact that there is almost nothing of any depth going on. One daugter declares undying annoyance at being lied to and then forgives everything in a matter of hours.
The killer is dealt with without Ingrid's involvement, but is allowed to come back and have another go. A woman who is clearly identified by witnesses as a murderer is allowed to walk free because she needs to be out. Reality is not high on the agenda.
As a soap opera it has lot of overlapping stories and new characters, but as anything else it has nothing but flaws.Top
Joanna continues to resist her daughters getting involved with magic, but Wendy starts secretly training them and an attack by the shapeshifter makes everyone reassess their position.
The pace slows down a bit and that actually works in the show's favour. Admittedly, the ongoing soap opera cliches of the girls' relationships are tedious, but the training scenes and the burgeoning of barely-controlled powers manage to remain entertaining despite being overfamiliar from many other shows. At least Ingrid's spell casting ends up with a surprise outcome.
Watching Julia Ormond and Madchen Amick do their stuff is fun, but it does show how bland the rest of the cast is. The final shot, however, brings a new face into the fray.Top
The legal process to Joanna's trial for murder begins. In a bid to get ahead of the shapeshifter, she sees who the next target will be and attempts to prevent another killing. Ingrid fears her curse will kill the man she loves.
Joanna Beauchamp is a powerful witch and this episode shows just how badass she is, both in flashback and present day. She is not above killing those that need killing and is hardly the all-caring soul that she likes to project.
This is the second villain that has been introduced to the show only to be dealt with a couple of episodes later. Though the suggestion that someone else is out there, pulling the strings, is put forward and they will hopefully be an awful lot more dangerous than what's been dealt with to date.
Freya's love triangle continues to be tedious and Ingrid's new love is just as bad. That, though, takes an expected, but still dramatic turn, late on.Top
Ingrid keeps Adam's memory alive. Freya meets her fiance's ex and Wendy's memory spell goes badly wrong.
Grief and memory are intertwined and that connection is examined in this episode, though not in any deep way. Ingrid keeping her dead boyfriend's spirit around so that they can fulfil their love is romance with a dark edge, mourning with a creepy vibe. It's played light and for laughs, but hints at the depths of pain that those left behind feel for those who have gone before.
And at least the whole ghost thing means that Freya isn't just hovering between the two men that she loves. This whole family drama thing is the worst aspect of the show, falling prey to the daytime soap sensibility that can be sensed not far enough beneath the surface for our liking. It's the kind of sensibility that keeps men taking of their shirts and women baring their bras in desperate attempts to make the show sexy within its televisual limits.
Joanna's reaction to an afternoon of passion certainly struggles to convince of anything other than discomfort, which is not the feeling she admits to later.Top
Freya must mix a potion to save the lives of both the Gardiner brothers whilst Ingrid bakes brownies that allow her to relive a previous life.
The plot arc to the first season of the show is revealed in this episode, through the flashbacks to Ingrid's previous life. Forget all the nonsense about Freya and the potion needed to save the lives of both Freya and the men she loves because that's just a sideshow. It's the story of how, in her previous life, Ingrid loved the leader of the cult that was founded in the town and how she died as a result. The true shapeshifter menace is revealed and the link back into that time is explained. As is so often the case, it's one large messed up family story.
That said, now that the overarching structure of the story is clear, the show is a great deal more interesting. The threat is revealed to be real and close to home and though the source of it isn't exactly a great surprise, it does at least make sense.Top
The shapeshifter brings back the last incarnation of Ingrid from the dead to revenge herself on Wendy. Freya tries to keep her dreams of Killian from her fiancé Dash.
The final piece of the puzzle that is the overarching plot of the show's first season slots neatly into place as the shapeshifter reveals what she is really after and it is obvious what she wants it for. It's a shame that this wasn't the only story going on because Freya's continuing love issues continue to be tiresome, even though they are now tied into the overall picture. One of the brothers is her soulmate and one will be her destroyer? Not exactly stretching what we already know, but putting a supernatural spin on it all the same.
Evil Ingrid is the standout of this episode, just as she was in the last and it is clear that this is the character that the writers are most interested in. The good girl with a heart of darkness within is hardly an original character, but she is the most fun one that the show has come up with and her torture of her aunt is at least brutal and merciless. It is hugely reminiscent of evil Willow from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, but that is certainly no bad thing.
The pieces now are all in place. The run in to the finale will hopefully justify having patience enough to have come this far.Top
Joanna reveals the serpent key that can open the gateway to another world. It infects Wendy and the two have a magical showdown in the house. Ingrid learns some facts about the new man at the library and Freya's future mother-in-law takes action.
Just as the pace ramps up in one section of the story, it comes to a standstill in another. The whole battle between Joanna and Wendy is filler of the most blatant variety. It barely moves the story along at all, but takes up nearly the entire episode. Some of the moves are fun, but they seem to spend an awful lot of time looking for each other in a house that isn't that large.
The revelations are made elsewhere as Ingrid learns a whole lot more about where her family came from, and the explanations do seem a little out of place in the current locale and characters. There's no reason why it should, but it does. When talk turns to Asgard, you just can't help but think about thunder gods. That's just the way it is.
And Freya is given a pretty thankless episode. Her task is to get an antidote into her boyfriends and their lovers, but since she's a bartender that is hardly a stretch. The cliffhanger with her mother-in-law is something else entirely.Top
With the wedding approaching, Joanna resists bringing a new man into the girls' lives - their father. A spell to reveal the shapeshifter is undertaken and Freya is forced to reveal her nature.
It's the final setup for the big climactic face off, so it is hardly expected that this will be a great episode, and so it turns out. The daytime soap opera sensibilities come rushing out with the family reunion and the secrets that emerge as a result. The main threat is almost completely ignored whilst everyone catches up plays unhappy families.
After this, the finale had better be good.Top
The day of the wedding dawns and a few things are going to be sorted out. The question is, who will be left standing at the end.
It's the big finale and the Beauchamp girls are still running a little behind the plot. There is far too much of the 'getting ready for the wedding' stuff and not nearly enough of the apocalyptic spell fight to the death and opening of portals to other worlds. In fact, the fate of the season's major villain is decidedly anticlimactic. It's left down to the portal to Asgard to give the second season something to look forward to.
The season as a whole was patchy, with lots of threats introduced and despatched far too quickly. Characters are got rid of as soon as they have served their purpose, appearing and disappearing at the whim of the writers with no sense of reality. Still, it is nice to see a show driven by the ladies and where not everyone is a teen model.
As a foundation, it's been a bit shaky, but there's something there that can be built upon.Top
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