Is The Secret Circle Magically Delicious? Our Fall TV First Impression!

The broadcast networks have more than 30 shows debuting this fall, including Steven Spielberg’s dino-mite Terra Nova, homecomings for Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rachel Bilson, and a U.S. take on the UK’s Prime Suspect. To help you prep, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots. Next up…

THE SHOW | The CW’s The Secret Circle (Thursdays at 9/8c, premiering Sept. 15)

THE COMPETITION | ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Fox’s Bones, CBS’ Person of Interest (new), and NBC’s The Office/Whitney (new)

THE CAST | Britt Robertson (Life Unexpected), Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Gale Harold (Queer as Folk), Natasha Henstridge (Eli Stone), and others.

More TVLine First Impressions: CBS’ Person of Interest, Fox’s New Girl, ABC’s Once Upon a Time, The CW’s Ringer, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and NBC’s The Playboy Club

THE SET-UP | Like fellow newcomers Once Upon a Time and Grimm, Secret Circle is about an ordinary person coming to terms with their extraordinary destiny. Here, it’s Cassie Blake (played by Robertson), a freshly orphaned high school student who relocates to her late mother’s hometown of Chance Harbor, Washington. Boarding with her grandma (Heroes‘ Ashley Crow), Cassie immediately strikes a spark with Adam (Dekker), befriends his girlfriend Diana (Days of Our Lives’ Shelley Hennig), elicits antagonism from “Faye, the resident bad girl” (as Phoebe Tonkin‘s character is conveniently introduced), and all told comes to suspect that something is amiss in this waterfront burg. Eventually, Faye blurts it out: “You’re a witch, 100-percent witch,” as is the rest of the half-dozen friends. With Cassie completing the circle, Faye effuses, the teens’ powers can escalate — even though their similarly powered parents abolished witchcraft years ago, following a horrible, tragic incident.

Fall TV Preview: TVLine’s Guide to All That Is New

THE GOOD | The story of an innocent, scarred waif stumbling upon a supernatural situation in which she plays a critical role is not a new one for The CW — look no further than Secret Circle‘s lead-in, The Vampire Diaries. (The kinship is of course no surprise, since the shows share literary lineage, both being born of L.J. Smith’s pen, and an exec producer in Kevin Williamson.) As such, you’re looking at one of the easiest programming calls around, meaning this newbie stands a fighting chance. Robertson is pretty darn perfect as Cassie, displaying sufficient amounts of disbelief about Chance Harbor’s secret circle, until Adam — in a beautifully shot, magical sequence — proves her power. Dekker, showing good chem with Robertson, is certain to cement heartthrob status among the CW fans. As Diana’s dad Charles, who is secretly the big pot-stirrer amongst the empowered adults, Harold oozes malevolence, no more so than in the pilot’s cold open or when he exchanges “words” with Adam’s blabby (yet entertaining) drunk of a dad (Queer as Folk‘s Adam Harrington).

THE… COULD-BE-BETTER | Like I said, Secret Circle is a fastball down the middle for The CW, and not much in this critic-proof series’ pilot screamed problematic. Dekker, while bringing perhaps the most gravitas of any of the Chance Harbor kids, could stand to have a bit more edge. Tonkin walks around with a permasmirk that, while befitting her character, at times reads as over-the-top. Hennig is a dead ringer for The Office‘s Ellie Kemper, which actually is not a bad thing at all — it’s merely distracting in a fun way!

Fall 2011 TV Grid: Where Did Your Favorite Shows Land?

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | If The CW’s Nikita and its action-thriller elements had one problem in this time slot, it was shedding too much of Vampire Diaries‘ audience and demos. If the disconnect between those disparate worlds, and not the competition, was the issue there, Secret Circle should fare better. The big question is if this freshman drama can also draw eyeballs away from ABC’s graying Grey’s and Fox’s late-premiering Bones.

Watch a video preview for The Secret Circle, then vote in our poll below.

Comments (55)

  • Matt, you do know that Magically Delicious has been my nickname for Ian Somerhalder for YEARS, right? ;)

    Comment by Michelle – July 20, 2011 08:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • HAHA I call him Ian Smolderhalder. I’m stoked, Britt was INCREDIBLE on LUX (RIP) and in Scream 4 and Dekker was cool on HEROES. Will give this a try.

      Comment by lorna – July 22, 2011 05:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love Gale Harold and I can’t wait to see him play an evil witch. I will totally be watching this show.

    Comment by K – July 20, 2011 09:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • He’s the only reason I will be watching.

      Comment by ash – July 20, 2011 10:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Same here.

        Comment by Karen – July 20, 2011 12:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • yep, same here. I’m enduring bickering and angsting teens for him (something I didn’t have the patience for even when I was a teen myself) so hopefully the EPs will utilize his amazing acting skills well and have him on for more than 2 lines per episodes.

          Comment by Sara – September 12, 2011 11:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ditto. Gale is God.

      Comment by jh – July 20, 2011 10:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I want to watch this show. I so do. Just for the amazingness that is Gale Harold. That being said, the premise sounds ridiculous and I am not sure I can stand all the teen melodrama and poorly written, over-acted dialogue that plays out on CW shows. I may try the first episode and if I can cringe less than once every 5 minutes, I might give it a try.

        Comment by Mandy – July 20, 2011 11:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I think you may be surprised… The books were pretty good. Much better than the Vampire Diaries books. And I love the Vampire Diaries show, so hopefully this one will be even better. I think it will definitely be lesser irritating than the 90210/Gossip Girl type melodramas. Hopefully, anyway!

          Comment by Lindsey – July 20, 2011 12:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Kevin Williamson does not write poorly. Please take your negativity elsewhere.

          Comment by frosty – July 21, 2011 07:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I’m with you. I’ll try to make it through just to see Gale. He is perfect.

          Comment by Lori – September 12, 2011 12:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Warlock, not witch

      Comment by Loccoo – July 20, 2011 02:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • When I heard he was playing one of the dads on the show I was bummed because who wants to see Brian Effing Kinney relegated to a nothing role in service of a teen show (ahem, Hellcats)? But knowing that he plays a central, EVIL role is awesome. I’m so in.

      Comment by Nicole – July 21, 2011 09:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love, love, LOVE the Vampire Diaries. So hopefully this will not disappoint!

    Comment by Saracen Riggins – July 20, 2011 09:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’ll definitely check it out, as these are based on my favorite books as a teenager, but I’m still pretty baffled about some of the changes they made (and I’m someone who is okay with shows/films being different from books as long as they stay true to the spirit of the source material).

    Comment by AT – July 20, 2011 09:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I want to check this out but the competition is pretty stiff and I’m not willing to give up my established shows. If I can make the time maybe I’ll watch at the CW’s website.

    Comment by GeekGirl13 – July 20, 2011 09:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wonder if anyone else noticed that the song Cassie was playing on the radio was in the very first season promos for Gossip Girl. Clearly, I need to watch other channels than CW. Lol.

    Comment by Elizabeth – July 20, 2011 09:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’ve watched Shelly Hennig on Days for years and can safely say she looks almost nothing like Ellie Kemper. If anything, she looks like Nina Dobrev.

    Comment by Captain – July 20, 2011 10:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Thank you. Shelley Hennig does not look anything like Ellie Kemper. And that’s not a bad thing.

      Comment by Matt – July 21, 2011 12:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Another problem with this series is the extreme white washing of the cast. Would a little diversity kill the CW!

    Comment by PV – July 20, 2011 10:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • They’ve just added Logan Browning as a series regular.

      Comment by sara – July 20, 2011 03:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You’re not using that term correctly, and don’t worry if I know Kevin Williamson, half the cast will be gone soon enough! hehe…

      Srsly, KWil is a genius though.

      Comment by frosty – July 21, 2011 07:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It’s not whitewashing, it’s a diversity problem. Whitewashing is when you take source material that has non-white people in it and make a new version that replaces those character with white people (for example, The Last Airbender, or the in-the-works Akira movie). The Secret Circle just has a lack of diversity, there weren’t any non-white people in the books.

      Comment by Brooke – July 21, 2011 08:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • OH jeez. Nikita has an Asian [if ugly] lead, VD has had African American characters. THE AA get their own magazine, month, and channel. Quit your whinning.

      Comment by Tessie – July 22, 2011 05:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • ive been waiting for this show since the rumors it might get picked up to make a pilot..

    Comment by sarah – July 20, 2011 10:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • no, the pilot has already been produced, i believe you mean ”ordered to pilot”, then ”ordered to series”.

      Comment by frosty – July 21, 2011 07:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I believe you’ve misread. Sarah has been waiting for this show since she first heard rumors that it might be made into a pilot.

        Comment by KCatty – September 12, 2011 09:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Looking forward to this show! The trailer looked great and I’m a fan of the “adults” in the cast, especially Gale Harold. The younger cast all looks pretty good too, some real talent here.

    Comment by CR – July 20, 2011 11:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Gale Harold is great!

      Comment by frosty – July 21, 2011 07:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I smell a VAMPIRE DIARIES/SECRET CIRCLE crossover event in the works. :)

    Comment by Kevin – July 20, 2011 11:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And your name is Kevin, make it happen bro!

      Comment by frosty – July 21, 2011 07:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was going to say No, and then I saw the trailer…oops.

    Comment by KBC – July 20, 2011 12:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Pretty exciting, isn’t it?

      Comment by jh – July 20, 2011 01:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t really care for “Vampire Diaries”, but I’ll give this show a shot because I know that Britt Robertson and Thomas Dekker are talented actors. The plot seems interesting enough.

    Comment by Carrie – July 20, 2011 01:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Im looking forward to seeing what changes they make from the book.
    I read them all in the late ’90′s- a bit outdated even then. But, there is so much potential there. They probably changed the number to 6 for practical TV reasons (12 families would be hard to maintain). I hope they don’t change Diana and Faye’s relationship too much- I like the dynamic between the two of loving each other deeply but disliking each others choices.
    I am really approving of the adults in the story- the books were all teen and was missing that layer.
    Also, I hope that they catch what the books missed- about abusing power- whether magical or otherwise. And take more (neo)pagan influences than Charmed did- like how they portrayed magical things or even the magical world- angels, good vs evil etc. But, the effects looks a lot better from what I saw in the clip.
    I hope the spin they do is it’s own smart flavor and not too closely tied the books- so I don’t have to compare them in my mind, after this. But, the books are older(probably not so many die-hard fans) and Vampire Diaries demonstrate that they like to take an idea and go there own direction with it.
    Love that they moved it to Washington. Our state definitely has a witchy or/and earthy vibe.
    Though a roll of the eyes for orphan heroes.

    Comment by Lu – July 20, 2011 01:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Looks like Shelley Hennig’s character is in her Alice Cullen mode and when I saw Natasha Henstridge’s face, that look says it all and we don’t know whether her character is nice or just plain naughty.

    Comment by Kevin – July 20, 2011 02:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You had me a “Gale Harold.” I didn’t need to hear anymore.

    Comment by wooster182 – July 20, 2011 05:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How long till Britt Robertson’s character sleeps with her teacher with the producers actually trying to justify it and have it effectively kill the show?

    Comment by Evan Meadow – July 20, 2011 05:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I thought Life Unexpected did a good job in showing that The relationship stemmed from sexual abuse of Lux and the teacher was ashamed of his part. I don’t remember them justifying it. That being said isn’t the actress in her mid twenties.

      Comment by Jason S. – July 20, 2011 06:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Dude Lux and the teachers relationship was beautifully written. It’s a tv show, it’s not like he raped her.

        Comment by lorna – July 22, 2011 05:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Yeah the Life Unexpected teacher/student relationship was fantastically written. They actually dealt with the fact that Lux was messed up, that’s why she got with him. At least it’s not like Pretty Little Liars where the writers act like they have some legitimate and epic love story. Vomit.
          Anyway, I saw the second half of the pilot of this at Comic-Con and it was terrible. Everyone in the audience was laughing. I so desperately wanted it to be good, and I’ll still watch, if only for the laughs and Thomas Dekker, but it was not good. The romantic rain-drop scene in particular was a mix of people groaning and laughing. Pretty sure everyone was there to see Nikita afterwards.

          Comment by Lauren – August 6, 2011 07:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Although a lot of the people on here seem to be watching for Gale Harold, and he was awesome, one of the only good parts of the show.

            Comment by Lauren – August 6, 2011 07:54 PM PDT  
  • Doesn’t this kinda remind you of Charmed? Book of Shadows, instead of the Power of 3 they have the Power of 6? Forbidden loves…just saying

    Comment by Amandalynn – July 20, 2011 07:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The books came out before Charmed did, and the books had 12 people in the Circle. And a Book of Shadows is a real-life thing that practicing witches use, it’s not something Hollywood made up.

      Comment by Brooke – July 21, 2011 08:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • EXACTLYYY!!!! Like Charmed !!!

      Comment by TvCritic – August 2, 2011 04:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved the books as a teenager many years ago I’m going to give this show a chance

    Comment by Chrissie – July 20, 2011 08:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy since the beginning and it has been slowly losing my interest for years, ever since the whole Denny-ghost thing. I think that I might just abandon it for this.

    Comment by Liz – July 20, 2011 08:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • On NBC, CBS, or USA this show would be gone in 2 episodes. CW needs shows so expect it to hang around for 20 episodes and then never heard from again.

    Comment by organiblack – July 20, 2011 10:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I know, right? CW is notorious for axing whatever is critically acclaimed.

      Comment by lorna – July 22, 2011 05:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • LJ Smith was my favorite author in the 90s, and I was SO EXCITED when her books got republished recently and they did the VD tv show…

    And then all the changes broke my heart a little and I had to stop watching. (No Meredith? No bubbly, Druid-obsessed Bonnie? Saddens me to this day)

    However, as much as I LIKED Secret Circle, I did not LOVE it and re-read it until my copies wore thin as I did with VD. So I will be giving this one a chance, even though there are more changes up the wazoo. As much as I liked the twins, I won’t be heartbroken if they’re not around to be skating through the high school.

    Comment by Jessi – July 21, 2011 09:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m skeptical but I’ll watch it because Gale Harold, an amazingly talented and sexy actor, is in it. :)

    Comment by Lala – July 22, 2011 04:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wasn’t too keen the VD books and LOVED the Secret Circle books, so I’m SO excited for this. That being said, I ADORE the VD TV show and the fact that they pretty much changed EVERYTHING makes it all the more watchable – when I watch films/Tv shows based on books that try to replicate the storylines (Twilight, anyone??) It just doesn’t work for me, as the minor changes and missing plotlines irritate me to a point where I can’t enjoy it! So, for me I love the VD because it’s NOTHING like the books, and I hope the same is true for CS. That being said, I love how Elena is a blonde in the VD books and a brunette in the show and Cassie is a brunette in the CS books and a blonde in the show – strange!! lol. Don’t like that they’ve made her an oprhan though! Not as bothered about the location, at least it’s a decent name – changing Fells Church to Mystic Falls was just stupid!!!!!

    Comment by Katy – July 26, 2011 02:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I saw the pilot at Comic Con and I thought it was pretty bad. The worst part was it was devoid of any humor, which is not what you’d expect from a Kevin Williamson project.

    Comment by Christine S. – August 17, 2011 12:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I want to say that I’ll try it, but the new season of “Bones” sounds a bit more exciting, so this might be an internet catch-up project for me. I loathed “The Vampire Diaries” novels growing up and was stunned that the television TVD is as good as it is — considering that it bears next to no resemblance to the books, I probably shouldn’t be so surprised — so to hear that the same team behind TVD is behind this, I’m a bit more encouraged to give this a shot.

    Comment by Phoenix – September 4, 2011 03:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • the girls already annoy me in the promo, they come off as really mean and idk something is pulling me off. bad casting

    Comment by spike – September 8, 2011 08:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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