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‘Salem’ Review Round-Up: Does Shane West Cast A Wicked Spell?

Sun, April 20, 2014 2:07pm EDT by Elizabeth Wagmeister 1 Comment
Salem Premiere
Courtesy of WGN America

Sunday nights are about to get a lot witchier because ‘Salem’ premieres on April 20, and it looks devilishly wicked. But do critics believe the new series will cast a spell over a captivated audience?

The brand new series Salem premieres on WGN America on April 20, and the creep-factor is up to the max. Despite haunting witches and scary special effects, the cast isn’t too evil on the eyes with Shane West starring, alongside beauties Janet Montgomery and Ashley Madekwe. Keep reading to see what the critics say — do the hot stars stir up a hot cauldron?

‘Salem’ Premiere — Review Round-Up

We all know the story of Salem, but WGN America is bringing a brand new version of the famed witch hunt to TV. An almost unrecognizable Shane WestJanet Montgomery and Revenge‘s Ashley Madekwe star in the scary period drama, which is based on the Salem witch trials. The horror series looks extra creepy — the trailer alone (watch below) depicts public killings, possessed women, lots of blood and, of course, horrific witches.

So is Salem worth traveling back to 17th century in Salem, Massachusetts? See what the critics have to say!

New York Times:

“The witch-infested Salem…is brash and well executed and expensive-looking. And if you strip away the various questions and back stories involving the station’s strategy and just look at “Salem” as a television show, you’ve got to admit that it’s perversely entertaining.”

Los Angeles Times:

“The witches of Salem can’t cast a spell…Although there is some beauty in the brightwork (fabulous sets, ditto costumes), it is a motley vessel. She may stay afloat, but she is not yar. Revisiting the Salem witch trials, “Salem” is a hybrid of period detail and horror that seems overinfluenced by trendwatching and faith in the power and elasticity of Comic-Con.”


“While generally lacking in distinguishing characteristics, “Salem” does push boundaries by experimenting with just how much nudity can be displayed without actually showing genitalia (kudos to whoever had the job of gluing on those strands of hair).”

The Hollywood Reporter:

“If vampires can be updated (and please, no more of that), if clones can be all the rage (see: Orphan Black) and if Ichabod Crane can be mixed with time travel (see: Sleepy Hollow), then the withes of Salem are due for a reimagining. [Creators] Braga and Simon saw an opportunity and, at least in the hourlong pilot WGN America sent to critics, they’ve taken enough advantage of it to merit a look or three…What’s initially most interesting about Salem is that it has a cast that’s a little bit all over the map, but ultimately the hodgepodge works.”

Entertainment Weekly:

“The unimpressive set might be a poor spread, but Salem’s plot has a rich set-up. Grimly robed Puritan overlords, puffy with Biblical rectitude and bug-up-the-butt huffy about sex, rule the rustic roost.”

— Elizabeth Wagmeister

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