Did WGN America's Salem Bewitch You?

Salem Premiere WGN AmericaWGN America on Sunday night conjured up a new spin on Salem and its witch trials of lore. But did the channel’s first original scripted series cast a spell on you?

Salem stars Shane West (Nikita) as John Alden, who when we first meet him is locking horns with George Sibley, a wealthy Selectman who exacts exaggerated, public punishments upon those who defy the Puritan way. John’s madly in love with Mary (Human Target‘s Janet Montgomery), but the two are pulled apart when John goes off to war.

When John returns, years later and after being presumed KIA, things are very, very different in Salem.

For one, Mary is now wed to a sickly George (got a “frog” in the throat, do ya?), and uses her new station to wield influence in town. But Mary’s true power originates from somewhere much darker. For as John was called to war, Mary was pregnant. And one night, she sacrificed her baby — its soul — to “the woods,” at the advice of her mystical servant Tituba (Revenge‘s Ashley Madekwe). And ever since then, “the woods” have in turn taken care of Mary, giving her all that she wants. As a witch.

Salem Mary Tituba

“Hmm, you’re the only character that interacts with me, Mary. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Indeed, John finds Salem in the midst of a “witch panic,” with his childhood frenemy Cotton Mathers (Fringe‘s Seth Gabel) leading the hunt. Cotton at one point leashes and commands a possessed young girl to sniff out her maker, like a dog, but just as she draws a bead on Mary, Mrs. Sibley reroutes the lass to pin John’s confidante Giles Corey — who’s become privy to the devilish deal Mary years ago made in the woods — as a witch, fating him to a certain death (by stoning, ouch). At episode’s end, Mary makes clear her plan: to have the witches run the witch trials, turning Puritan against Puritan, until only the wicked are left standing.

Elsewhere on the cast, Xander Berkeley (Nikita) plays chief politician Magistrate Hale, a begrudging ally of Mary’s, while Tamzin Merchant (Jane Eyre) is his daughter Anne, a young artist with an attraction to John — for whom Mary obviously still has feelings.

What did you think of Salem? Provided you were able to find the WGN America channel, will you be tuning in again?

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65 Comments
  1. jasie says:

    Umm so I guess Comcast, the giant cable company that it is, doesn’t actually carry WGN America so I won’t be able to watch. Bummer.

    • Meg says:

      Charter doesn’t carry WGN America either. :-/

      • CountryQueen says:

        My Charter has it – though not in HD, and I really had to hunt for it. I’m in WI btw. It’s a very low channel – under 100 here – if that helps at all.

      • SK says:

        I have comcast and I have watched Salem on the WGN network but since you have Comcast, do a search for Salem and you should be able to watch it OnDemand – Free

    • Dr. M says:

      Comcast does carry WGN. It’s a basic station too.

      • uh huh says:

        Maybe where you live, but not where I live.

      • noodle says:

        WGN and WGN America are two different stations. I live in Chicago where WGN is a local channel which Comcast carries. It does not carry WGN America so I was not able to watch Salem.

    • Vicky says:

      I was curious about this and looked it up. Found the Comcast forum where people were talking about it and there was a post with a few paragraphs from the WGN wikipedia page, here’s the relevant portion:

      “…it remains unavailable on cable in portions of the western United States and much of the New England region of the northeastern United States (including portions of the New York City metropolitan area). Moreover, some cable providers in select markets where Tribune Broadcasting owns a television station do not carry WGN America on analog or digital cable.” -Wikipedia.org (Superstation WGN)

      Unfortunately, there are places that don’t get WGN America, and it’s not necessarily limited to Comcast. Hope this is helpful. Thankfully, I’m not in those areas, plus I have DirecTV, and I thought it was pretty good.

    • TV Gord says:

      I don’t know whether you’d call this irony, but WGN is available across Canada. It’s amazing that such wide parts of America don’t get it. (We also get Salem on our Space cable channel.) I feel for you who don’t get it.

    • Elyse says:

      I have DirecTV and I have to upgrade my package to get WGN :( so I can’t watch either!

      • grr says:

        We don’t have it and we have freakin’ Time Warner Cable. I thought we got everything. I guess situations like this is what the internet’s for.

        • Scott says:

          I also have Time Warner Cable, and I get WGN America. It must only be available in certain areas(I live in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area).

        • Relaxxx says:

          I have Timewarner Cable in NYC and I get this channel! I dont understand why its such a clusterfuq of who gets the channel and who doesnt! I thought it was a new channel cuz I never saw it before maybe they need more time to sort out who gets what!

    • alan says:

      yes i know,and i rushed home to watch it,. to realize that i could not watch it either I too have comcast.

    • Maren says:

      It’s available on Hulu (hulu.com).

  2. Kelly says:

    I am not sure of it is different city to city but my Comcast has the channel

  3. Jess says:

    Wish we could watch it in Northern VA. It’s only available to dish subscribers….thanks again Comcast.

  4. Relaxxx says:

    Thank goodness I have this station! They had alot of great movies leading up to Salems premiere. The show had me at little commericial interruptions how awesome is that! It was a fantastic show I enjoyed it and will be watching it each sunday. My favorite part was when Mary pulled the frog out of Georges throat and started to feed the frog from her gut….weird but unexpected. Good show!

  5. I thought it was really good! Its very much what I wanted from AHS:Coven but didn’t get. Shane West is amazing & Seth Gabel’s beard is one of the scariest things on TV lol!

  6. Angel says:

    The show was really good, weird and scary! There was alot of skin on this show for basic cable! When the pastor was having sex with the prostitute I thought is this really happening? Im not complaining about it I just wasnt expecting it from a bunch of Puritans but hey people do all kinds of wild stuff when they think no one is watching bible thumpers and all lol!

  7. Kait says:

    I have the station but it switches between wgn America and my9 (I swear it changes between the NJ and PA website shown too, I’m from PA) as the icon in the bottom corner throughout the day. The website showed that it was available and even checking the TV guide said that it should have been Salem, but it showed Modern Family on my9. Very frustrating. I have service electric.

  8. Robert says:

    I have Optimum cable and they also do not carry the Network. I can’t change providers because my apartment building has a contract with Optimum, I guess if I see enough good viewers reviews I can buy a season pass on Amazon or ITunes.

  9. Hello Yellow says:

    I was surprised I had this channel WGN! I was flipping stations one day and saw the previews. Its a good station with shows I like! Salem was really interesting very easy to follow. The previews for future episodes look really great so yeah I will be watching this for sure! I wonder how many episodes they made in total?

  10. Hello Yellow says:

    Sorry to hear about some people not being able to watch the show. It was really interesting and scary

  11. Angel says:

    I think Anne is proberbly going to be Marys next victim. She was kind of upset with the way Anne was touching Johns face at the grave yard even though Marys married. The relationship with Mary and Tituba is very interesting also! Lover friend mistic guide maybe all in one! Mary has alot going on for herself boy oh boy.

  12. tp says:

    I’m somewhat of a scary cat soooo my question is is it scary or just seriously intense? I wanna watch it but I’m a little leery.

  13. JeffDJ says:

    It was better than I was expecting, so will definitely tune in next week. The show airs on Space here in Canada, so no problems finding it.

  14. Juan says:

    The only problem….WGN America cancelled its best show to make room for Salem. I will not be watching until the channel brings back the WGN News at Nine.

  15. Et al. says:

    Looks like most people are going to have to watch this show on the .TOR network. I don’t have WGN either.

  16. Cory says:

    I watched it even though I don’t get the channel, and I loved it so I’ll just buy episodes on Google Play and watch them via Chromecast.

  17. rose23659 says:

    Well I live in Salem, MA and we don’t have the station through our comcast. Funny how they make a show about Salem and the people who live in Salem can’t even watch it.

  18. vance says:

    wgn doing it right all the time. they advertised it all week on the morning news and in the cable online guide showed the wrigley field 100 year old special. so which one was it. way to go gn always on the non cutting edge.

  19. Joey Padron says:

    First episode was good, scary and weird. Like it. Preview for upcoming episodes looks good. Will keep watching show.

  20. Jared says:

    I don’t get WGN America so I couldn’t watch but hopefully Salem ends up on Netflix soon.

  21. SwampWitch says:

    I enjoyed it! It’s dark, sexy, creepy, artsy, and did I mention dark? I will definitely watch more episodes. P.S. I’m a Witch (not a Wiccan one!) and I wasn’t offended AT ALL by the portrayal of witches. It’s not a documentary! And to deny darker aspects of witchcraft is about like the Catholic Church denying the inquisition.

  22. Gerald says:

    It airs on Space in Canada.

  23. CountryQueen says:

    Our FOX station must be associated with WGN America as every night last week, during the 6pm “news,” they highlighted this show for 5 freakin’ minutes. Could not believe it the first time we saw it, couldn’t believe it when they kept doing it. It drove me insane a bit, as we don’t even really watch that “news” cast, yet every time we landed on it, they were talking about this show – I almost didn’t watch because of it – but this is a show in my wheelhouse, so I had to give it a shot. I liked it very much. Was kinda surprised by the sex scene – almost thought I was watching an HBO show for a moment it was so graphic (that scene would have landed a movie a hard R back in the 80’s :) ) Loved the look on all the guys faces in that first scene when they realized they had better not get caught self-pleasuring themselves.

    What I really like is how they are taking actual accounts of what happened, and using them as fact in the show, that the witches are real. If you haven’t read up on the Salem witch trials, you should, it’s a very interesting and sad tale in our history.

    • Angel says:

      I swore I was watching HBO! When the pastor was having sex with the prostitute and was humping her from the back and giving his little mini sermon I actually blushed and when Marys like half naked when they perform the rituals oh gosh! I thought there werent going to be real witches n monsters but Im glad they made it like the witches and possessions are real

  24. Kally says:

    It is on Hulu for those that do not have WGN

  25. Mary Bell says:

    I totally forgot about this. it actually did not show up on TVGuide website’s new show listing. This reminded me of it, and I went out to check to see if I actually got it, turns out I do (which is amazing to me given I have a small town cable), set it up to tape one of the repeats. Hoping it is good.

  26. Jess says:

    It’s also available on Amazon. It’s free if you have Amazon Prime.

  27. Kathryn says:

    Ugh! I completely agree with LA Times critic Mary McNamara. This high budget mess was neither good nor flat out bad enough to be a campy train wreck that’s fun to hate watch. And it’s so much worse to be in that no man’s middle land when you’re taking a real shameful historical event and twisting it FAR from actual events to both allow you to hype up the torture sadism of the religious fanatics AND suggest there was reason for their paranoia. (All to mindlessly ape the sensationalism of HBO-style sex and nudity without the cleverness) If you’re going to do this, you need to at least do it well. Fail.

  28. Relaxxx says:

    Welp I will be watching this again next week! Awesome sauce!

  29. McAmster says:

    Anyone ever heard of HULU? Watched it today – thank God for Hulu! Low commercials…

  30. Angela says:

    Direct tv is sponsoring Salem that may explain why some other cable providers do not carry it

  31. Ncooke says:

    It was horrible, its like silent hill meets…silent hill.

    The actor, the main character who came back from the war is soooo bad at acting, i dont know why they chose him, he is crap.

    Someone mentioned a hellmouth….but i didnt hear any mention of a hell mouth in the episode

  32. There is the real history of actual events as can be learned from accounts of the day. Next, there is a perception of the actual events which is dependent on the bias of the person who perceives the events. Finally, there is a re-telling of the events, edited, embellished or ignored by he story teller. It was my hope to witness some form of the actual history. That was not shown in episode 1. Too much drama, with too many special effects, and just the barest reference to history. Too bad.

  33. Kara says:

    If I’m going to proceed to watch this show I’m going to have to turn my brain off because its far too familiar with the subject matter. Weird, a bit over the top without any of the cleverness of some other shows in its genre but I will say that its probably more because of it being a pilot then anything else. I will check out the next few episodes this was supposed to garner interest and the rest will set up the story. So we shall see.

  34. Cheryl Smith says:

    I got rid of Comcast months ago, couldn’t afford their prices. Hulu has this show and I’m anxious to see it. Between Hulu, Netflix and the tv online I am never bored. My cable bill was cut in half because I had to keep the computer through them. Don’t miss Comcast at all.

  35. Alichat says:

    That was some twisted sh!t! Having slight Nikita flashbacks with Berkeley and West on the same show, even with the wigs. It’s the voices. And Seth Gabel’s nekkidness….that is all.

  36. carlsjr says:

    thought it was terrible. the acting was bad, confusing story line, no character development and was not expecting full on nude soft porn show of Cinemax caliber to show up on my tv during prime time basic cable. guess it was making a statement against the puritans or something but i found it rude.

    will not watch.

  37. Rhiannon says:

    Just watched the first episode on hulu plus and I love it! I can’t wait to see the story line develop on into the season.

  38. Cate Amos says:

    I’ve long been a student of the travesty known as the Witch Trials and have taught “The Crucible” for many years to high school juniors. I was looking forward to the new take on this dark period of American legal history, but was disappointed with the delivery. I like the idea of answering the “what if’s” of that period in Salem – What if there were actual people with supernatural gifts? What if the Devil really held congress in the forests around the village? What if nefarious forces really controlled the trials and execution of innocent people? I am by no means an expert on history or Puritanism, but I know that if a man stood in the middle of the town square and shouted “Goddamn you bastards!” to the citizens of Salem, he would have been placed in the stocks immediately. And a young woman (with red hair, no doubt) wouldn’t be caught dead in public with loose, free-flowing hair. Some of the 21st century anachronisms need to go in order for me to invest any more time on this show. I truly have high hopes for it and will give it one more shot next week.

    • innerjuju says:

      I said the same thing about Mary! No married woman of Puritan times would be going around with her hair flowing down and her head uncovered. Not to mention those low cut dresses with her boobies showing! lol

  39. yellowbird90 says:

    It was good but I was a little bummed they killed off the Giles Corey character in the first episode. I thought he was really interesting and there was a lot more they could have done with him. Plus, Kevin Tighe is such a great actor. Would have been nice to have seen more of him in the series. Otherwise, I give it a B+.

  40. MK says:

    I have been trying to watch it but every time it’s on, the station has a Local Blackout in Effect message instead. As soon as Salem’s over the blackout is lifted. That only started June 9th.

  41. jude says:

    i think the show, salem, should NOT be allowed on tv, especially at 10 pm. while channel surfing, i came across a scene involving a naked couple in the act of having sex. it’s summer, and at only 10 pm, many children are seeing this. shame on you, wgna. it’s this type programming that is leading our youth to early pregnancies and inappropriate behavior. i am a teacher and see the effects of this, even with children as young as first grade because they say they see it on tv. yes, parents should be screening, but they sadly do not. professional adults need to be more concerned with our children than with ratings.

  42. Shane says:

    Salem is so good I bought the season on itunes. I’m stuck with Comcast so no luck :-(

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