The new WGN America series SALEM takes the classic tale of the Salem witch trials and imagines that the witches were real, and that there not only witches residing in Salem, but other things that go bump in the night too. Capitalizing on the recent television craze for historical fantasy, SALEM offers adds an element of supernatural horror to its dark series.
SALEM stars Janet Montgomery and Shane West as star-crossed lovers John Alden and Mary Sibley who were cruelly separated for 7 years during the American Revolutionary War. Seven years is a long time and with John Alden presumed dead, Mary Sibley moved on in her life. She went from being just a beautiful young maiden, desired by all the good men of Salem, to being the wife of the town’s more prominent leaders. So when John returns from the war, thinking to reclaim his home and the girl he loved, he is in for a cold surprise. Likewise for Mary, who believed John was lost during the war and made a series of irrevocable life choices based on that false assumption; choices which she undoubtedly wishes she could take back.
So John Alden’s return to his hometown of Salem is met with a bit of shock and sadness.
But that is just one aspect of SALEM’s devious tale. Also during John’s absence, a coven of witches has taken root in Salem, slowing gathering more and more power and followers. These are not witches that simply recite incantations. These witches have real, dark, supernatural power. What they can do is downright from wicked. There is shape-shifting, mesmerizing, salacious spells, and unnatural spirit possession.
The first time you see one of the witches without her carefully selected facade, you will be as terrified as the poor citizens of Salem. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about these witches. They are spawned from the devil himself.
John Alden is soon swept up into the witch-hunting endeavors of a local priest, Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) charged with eradicating the witches from Salem. But hunting witches is not for the weak or faint-hearted; and when their quest brings them face to face with those they know, it will be a true test to see if they can truly strike down the malevolent evil living in their midst.
Lest you take this series too seriously, there are definitely some deftly woven comedic elements in this witches’ tale. So as you watch it, be prepared for the fantastical mixed with a level of the absurd. This is the kind of tale that is inspired from the nightmares of children to terrorize men. Regardless, you would never, ever want to come face to face with one of these witches.
SALEM premiers on April 20th, airing Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. on WGN America.