WonderCon 2014 Review: WGN’s ‘Salem’ Pilot

Salem

Each cable TV network apparently needs its own scary costume drama. Into this comes WGN America’s inaugural scripted series, Salem. A terrifying alternate take on the town’s witch-hunt and trials, this supernatural drama has real witches at work in Salem.

The pilot, which was shown Friday at WonderCon to a packed room, definitely set the bar high for thrills and chills. The series is a steep departure for the network primarily known for airing reruns of old shows like Matlock and more recent ones such as 30 Rock.

Even edited so it would be “suitable” for kids that may have been in the audience (some scenes were blacked out), the Salem episode was still full of disturbing scenes. In particular there was a part including a frog and a naked woman that is too creepy to go into detail about. Though real individuals from that time period inspire most of the characters, the similarities are few and far between.

Shane West stars as war hero John Alden who protests the presumption of witches in Salem. His sometimes ally is Magistrate Hale, played by Xander Berkeley. However, it’s corrupt preacher Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) and Alden’s former love interest Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), who continue to stir unrest among the townspeople. This is a historical/thriller with magic and mystery woven throughout and will likely appeal to fans of American Horror Story and even Supernatural.

Salem premieres Sunday, April 20, on WGN America at 10 p.m.

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