In a TV and film landscape filled with sexy and youthful vampires, a new TV series Salem, about witches, could drive a steak and rub some garlic in the wounds of the perhaps dwindling vampire craze.
Salem, aired on April 20th, draws on facts, evidence, and legend to keep the story about witches, and human suffering and persecution to perhaps anchor and draw viewers. So far so good for WGN America’s first scripted series.
Salem is a re-visitation of the witch trials that took place in Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. It stars Janet Montgomery, from Downton Abbey and Merlin; Shane West from Nikita and ER; and Ashley Madekwe, from Revenge, Madekwe plays the infamous Tituba, Ad Week reported.
Salem debuted to good numbers on WGN, with an average of 1.52 million viewers among the 18-49 age group; and the two successive encore presentations drew 2.2 million viewers, with 886,000 adults of the 18-49 age group, Ad Week reported.
In an interview with TV Guide, Shane West, who plays war hero John Alden talked about the script, pilot, and how dark the series really is.
“When I read the pilot, the horror element came across on paper, and in my own imagination, it was pretty dark,” West said. “When we actually filmed, I was shocked it stayed to the tone of what the script was because things change once it comes to production; the horror element is expertly crafted into the story line.”
In Salem, witches are real, and they are actually manipulating the town into a state of fear. West’s John Alden, a historical survivor of the witch trials, returns home to discover that his former love, Montgomery’s Mary, has married the elderly town leader. Unbeknownst to John, he got Mary pregnant; Mary makes a deal with the devilish witch Madekwe’s Tituba to get rid of her child, TV Guide reported.
The initial success of the show can also be attributed to its creators, and theme music. Salem is created by Brannon Braga, who executive produced a number of Star Trek (ST), TV and film projects, including ST: The Next Generation; as well as the earlier two Star Trek films: ST: Generations, and ST: First Contact. Also serving as Salem’s creator is Adam Simon, of The Haunting in Connecticut film.
Marilyn Manson’s song “Cupid Carries a Gun,” is Salem’s title music, Entertainment Weekly reported. Composer Tyler Bates, working on the show, has worked on an album with Manson; Bates thought the song would work.
Manson agreed, “I liked the themes of Salem. It looks at the witch trials without being cliche like most modern films.”