×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Witches of East End’

Lifetime premiere doesn't exactly conjure magic but has possibilities

With:

Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Rachel Boston, Eric Winter, Daniel DiTomasso, Madchen Amick, Jason George, Virginia Madsen.

Lifetime enters television’s increasingly crowded supernatural arena with “Witches of East End,” a frothy, frisky soap that suggests what an ABC Family show might look like after graduating high school. Fittingly, “Witches” is adapted from a series of novels by Melissa de la Cruz, a popular young-adult fiction writer dabbling in more “adult” material. A pre-existing literary fan base can’t hurt for a guilty pleasure hoping to cast a spell on viewers in a hectic Sunday TV landscape, but just how pleasurable that guilt proves to be is still to be determined after the pilot episode.

Bohemian artist Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond) lives with her twentysomething daughters — chatty bombshell bartender Freya (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and reserved, practical librarian Ingrid (Rachel Boston) — in a sleepy coastal town. While all three have magical powers, Joanna keeps her daughters in the dark about their abilities in an attempt to protect them from an age-old curse: Every 30 years the girls lose their lives for magic-related reasons and the immortal Joanna immediately becomes pregnant again so the endless cycle can begin anew.

Of course, secrets can’t stay secret for long, especially on Lifetime, and a confluence of events — including the arrival of Joanna’s estranged but supportive sister Wendy (Madchen Amick) and an evil Joanna doppleganger bent on revenge — force the Beauchamp ladies to face their destiny. At the same time, Freya’s engagement to local rich kid Dash Gardiner (Eric Winter) is threatened by her erotic dreams involving a mysterious stranger who turns out to be Dash’s long-lost brother Killian (Daniel DiTomasso).

The love triangle has an unexplained but apparent connection to the witchy business, as signaled by the flowers that burst into flames and explode whenever Freya and Killian lock lips.

In keeping with the new, edgier Lifetime (home of “The Client List” and “Devious Maids”), the “Witches” pilot includes mild off-color language and brief nonsexual nudity (Wendy has the power to transform into a cat but loses her clothes whenever she changes back). But no one’s going to get it confused with FX’s gonzo “American Horror Story” (coincidentally also focused on witches this year). Instead, the supernatural series “Witches” most resembles is “Charmed,” with its mix of light horror, heavy romance and sisterly squabbling.

That show often coasted on the charisma of its lead actresses, and it’s too soon to tell if “Witches” can follow suit. The focus on Freya and Ingrid isn’t particularly promising, since veterans Ormond and Amick (who both had memorable guest turns on “Mad Men”) effortlessly upstage their younger colleagues. But it’s possible Dewan Tatum and Boston will grow into the roles as their characters begin to explore their powers.

Given viewers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for anything remotely horror themed, it’s only logical for Lifetime to jump on the trend, and “Witches” provides a natural fit with the network’s brand. Even if the series plays it right down the middle — it’s not exactly good, but not terrible either — that might be all that’s needed to succeed.

TV Review: 'Witches of East End'

(Series; Lifetime, Sun. Oct. 6, 10 p.m.)

Production:

Filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, by Fox 21 in association with 3 Arts Entertainment, Curly Girly and Lifetime.

Crew:

Executive producers, Mark Waters, Jessica Tuchinsky, Erwin Stoff, Maggie Friedman; producer, Kelly A. Manners; director, Waters; writer, Friedman, based on the novel by Melissa de la Cruz; camera, John Lindley; editor, Bruce Green; production designer, Paul Peters; music, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman; casting, Liz Dean, Robert J. Ulrich, Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer. 60 MIN.

Cast:

Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Rachel Boston, Eric Winter, Daniel DiTomasso, Madchen Amick, Jason George, Virginia Madsen.

More TV

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

  • Jon Snow Arya Stark Game of

    'Game of Thrones' Final Season Vegas Odds Reveal Wild Theories

    With “Game of Thrones” hype at an all-time high, Las Vegas may be raking in as much money as the Iron Bank. HBO’s fantasy masterpiece has seized the gambling world’s attention nearly as much as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. Fans spew countless theories on social media, such as which characters will be axed [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content