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 Sep 15 - 21, 2011 
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Idiot Box

Spell Check

“The Secret Circle” on The CW

By Devin D. O’Leary

To call The CW’s new supernatural soaper “Twilight, but with witches” would be incredibly reductive. It would also be pretty darn accurate. “The Secret Circle” is custom-crafted to lure the same tweens-and-their-undersexed-moms crowd as the Twilight franchise. It’s based on a young-adult fantasy series (just like Twilight). And it’s the perfect companion piece to The CW’s current Thursday night hit, “The Vampire Diaries” (which, you guessed it, is also a supernatural teen romance based on a young-adult book series). That isn’t to say, however, that “The Secret Circle” isn’t rife with guilty pleasures.

The series revolves around atypical teen Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson, star of The CW’s short-lived “Life Unexpected”). After her mother dies under mysterious circumstances (cue the ominous music early), Cassie is shipped off to live with her grandmother in picturesque Chance Harbor, Wash.—a fictional town wholly unrelated to Forks, Wash., from Twilight. There, Cassie meets a group of teenagers who want her to join their would-be witches’ coven. Turns out mom was part of a secret witches’ circle back in high school, before something went horribly wrong and she was forced to flee town.

Now, the sons and daughters of those grunge-era spell-casters are circling around Cassie trying to win her loyalty. Adam (Thomas Dekker, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”) is a sensitive and handsome-in-a-non-sexually-threatening-way boy who manages to combine the appeal Twilight’s putty-faced Taylor Lautner with the appeal of Twilight’s wussy-voiced Robert Pattinson. Diana (Shelley Hennig, former Miss Teen USA) is the pretty go-getter who runs the coven. Faye (Australian model Phoebe Tonkin) is the bitchy brunette who watched Mean Girls a lot. There are some other kids in there too, but they’re as exciting as the token Asian guy on “Glee.” More important to the storyline is Diana’s dad (Gale Harold from “Desperate Housewives”), who I’m just gonna refer to as Lucius Malfoy. Lucius is the “Big Bad” in the black trench coat (cue that ominous music again) who wants to rebuild the witches’ circle so he can ... you know, do more bad things.

Against her better judgment, naive little Cassie joins the titular geometric configuration. This gives her instant access to all sorts of ancestral powers she never knew she had. The most hilarious of these powers is manifested in the pilot when Carrie and Adam share a romantic “moment” levitating raindrops in the middle of the forest. (What? No flying through the treetops?)

Throw in some romantic complications (Adam is dating Diana), some rote drama (Adam’s dad is an alcoholic) and a bit of foreshadowing (what did happen to the original circle?) and you’ve got an easily digestible formula. Although “The Secret Circle” steals from everything under the sun—elements of Twilight, The Craft, Harry Potter, The Lost Boys and “Charmed” are all easily discernible—it does choose a lot of the right influences. Teenage supernatural romance lovers will eat it up like Twilight-themed Sweethearts candy from Necco.

“The Secret Circle” premieres Thusday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m., on KWBQ-29.
 
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