The witching hour has come and gone with Lifetime’s Witches of East End pilot, and I’m undecided on just how strong the spell really is so far.
In the magical show’s introductory hour, we were immediately thrown into the world of the Beauchamp family, made up of mom Joanna (Julia Ormond), and sisters Ingrid (Rachel Boston) and Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum). I hope you were holding on to something in the first few minutes, because the whiplash was intense. Less than a minute in, Freya had already mentioned a weird dream she had … and the all-too-obvious witchy hints began. Spoilers ahead!
Suddenly we met familiar face number one at Freya’s engagement party — former Days of Our Lives star Eric Winter, who played Freya’s fiance, Dash. He was rich. He was hot. What more could you ask for? But wait! Before you get too attached/learn anything about their relationship, the man from Freya’s kiss-y dream showed up, and he turned out to be Dash’s brother! This is where you would gasp if you knew anything about these characters and/or hadn’t met them five minutes ago. That being said, Dash’s brother, Killian (Daniel DiTomasso), was also very hot.
Elsewhere, Freya’s sister Ingrid flirted with a cop named Adam (Jason George). Any good Grey’s Anatomy fan would recognize both of these characters. And before I forget, familiar face number four went to D.J. (Nicholas Gonzalez) from The O.C. (He was also on Grey’s, but I digress.) What is it with Lifetime shows and their guest stars? Anyway, I will say that Ingrid was one of the most likable things about the episode. She is the sweet, endearing, funny sister. If only her story line hadn’t involved a very random and forced interaction with magic at her work — she “jokingly” tried a fertility spell to help her co-worker have a baby. Spoiler: It worked.
Let’s back track a bit to when we met Wendy (Mädchen Amick), Joanna’s long-lost sister. Joanna and Wendy are more than 100 years old. They’re witches. Wendy’s curse is that she turns into a black cat and has nine lives. Joanna’s curse is that she’s immortal “with endless motherhood.” Basically, Ingrid and Freya have lived many lifetimes, and each time they die, Joanna gives birth to them again. But also, they’re not really immortal, because there is a spell to kill them all without them coming back, and (*insert evil music here*) there’s a shape shifter in town who’s looking to do just that.
The other twist: Ingrid and Freya had no idea they were witches until Wendy showed up to warn Joanna about the shifter and things actually started happening. You still with me?
So here’s the deal: The show didn’t quite have the chemistry I was hoping to see. Everything felt rushed and the transitions were rough. By the end of the episode, the shifter had freed a man from a painting (apparently Freya put him there in another lifetime when she practiced magic), Freya kissed her fiance’s brother and then was forced into a separate painting, Wendy had been stabbed, Joanna was arrested, and Ingrid was forced to learn the truth about being a witch.
That being said, there were some fun jokes throughout the episode, and I liked the mystery of Killian and his comment about how he’d been waiting for Freya for more than 400 years or something (it happened in a dream). I think once viewers are given time to actually meet these characters and care about them, this show could be fun. But this first episode assumed way too much in terms of my attachment to the witches I’d never met, and it wouldn’t have hurt to slow down the plot a bit. Witches don’t need to be so over-the-top. They don’t need to be cats with nine lives or constantly pregnant. Being a witch is cool/crazy enough!
All in all, the show felt like it wanted to be a new Charmed, but so far it’s missing the sincerity, the chemistry, and, as silly as it sounds, the believability (within that world, of course). Plus, hot guys don’t solve everything … though they do help.