Now that both Vampire Diaries and the Secret Circle are on winter hiatus, I’ve asked Nicole to join me for a meeting of the brain trust to discuss The Secret Circle, which, for better or worse, is nearly inseparable from Vampire Diaries at this point. Now that we’ve reached a our first break, it seemed like a good time to step back and take a look at the show so far as a whole. As always, SB is in blue and Nicole is in purple.
I’m going to get it out of the way first. Secret Circle is definitely not as good as The Vampire Diaries. And honestly, I’m not sure whether to call it disappointing, because I didn’t really have any expectations for the show–in fact, it might even be better than I would’ve initially thought. But I don’t think that the quality comparisons are helped by the fact that commercials are always throwing the TVD/TSC producer connection in our face at every opportunity, and I REALLY don’t think that TSC benefits, comparison wise, from airing on the same night as TVD. I’m sure it benefits ratings-wise, which is obviously important for business, but … I don’t feel like as a viewer, there’s any benefit at all.
I can completely understand this perspective, because TVD has really mastered the art of perpetual motion, where at this point every episode feels like three, given how much HAPPENS in an hour. I think that a big part of this is the fact that TVD has built up a huge cast of characters that can be endlessly explored in different configurations. TSC is still in it’s infancy and whether by design or due to budget constraints, has a more limited pool of people to work with. The show just feels smaller-scale and more insular than TVD, and when the smaller show follows the bigger, more epic show, I’m sure that to some it can feel like a bit of a letdown.
With TSC, we see the same six main characters in the same handful of settings on a weekly basis, which can start to feel a little static, even this early into the run. I think that this is why episodes like ‘Beneath’ led to such a strong (positive) fan reaction; because the show expanded it’s physical setting and it was exciting for the audience to move beyond the abandoned house, the bar and Cassie’s Kitchen of Death. (This episode also worked because it let the kids be teenagers and have some fun, which I’ll get to in more detail later). So overall, I agree that following TVD with TSC is probably not the best idea, because the scale feels much smaller in comparison and therefore possibly a little anti-climactic. I tend to watch TVD on Fridays, so this isn’t really an issue for me, However, most people probably do watch them back to back and I think even just flipping the order would work. Of course, that would deprive TSC of the TVD lead-in, which could be a problem – does it have a strong enough following at this point to compete with everything else on Thursdays at 8? I don’t know.
Well, I doubt that anything on the CW can REALLY compete with everything else on at eight on Thursdays (except, apparently, Community–sad face), but I think they’re okay with that. I feel like CW isn’t really EXPECTED to compete, so they have different standards.
I do want to go back to your point about the scale of the show, though. I just feel like, in a setting like the Pacific Northwest, there should be more variety in settings just by virtue of being in the great outdoors, ESPECIALLY with all the witchy nature connection shit. And they have the restaurant, but they don’t even use that very much. And (AND!) it cannot be that hard to find young, pretty, unknown actors who will work for cheap to get some exposure. I mean, was it really NECESSARY to cast Lux in this part? No. And I hope they didn’t blow their budget on her and Thomas Dekker. (I mean, she’s MUCH better as Cassie than Lux, but I’m obviously still not over it completely.) I don’t know exactly what the problem is with the show, but I will say this–I don’t think it’s a problem with the acting (I especially love the adults, and the kids are fine), and I don’t think it’s a problem with premise or style. I think this is a writing issue, and I have a couple of key points as to WHY I think that. Ready for the bullets? Read the rest of this entry »