WGN America takes a step back into the distant past — in the hopes of ensuring a brighter future for the cabler — at 10 p.m. Sunday with the debut of its first original drama series, “Salem.”

The supernatural period drama is set at the time of the witch trials in 1692 Massachusetts, where it turns out, in the series at least, there really was hocus-pocus going on. (Historians are confident there were no witches in Salem, only a lot of false allegations.) The Tribune Co. cabler needs “Salem” to stand out in a crowded field, especially as it goes up against “Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Good Wife” in the killer Sunday timeslot.

The “Salem” production team went to great lengths to evoke a 17th century look and feel, with the wilds of Shreveport, La., subbing for the real Salem.

Among the unusual aspects of “Salem”:

  • No less than 85% of the show’s 53 sets are lit by candlelight
  • Most exterior scenes are lit by torches
  • Costume designer Joseph Porro used vinyl, patent leather and plastic in the costumes to better reflect the candlelight
  • One dress is made of human hair
  • The undergarments worn by the prostitute characters are more than 100 years old

Bonus fact: Production designer Seth Reed most recently worked on Fox’s “Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey.”

“Salem” hails from Fox 21 and Prospect Park. Brannon Braga and Adam Simon wrote the pilot directed by Richard Shepard. Janet Montgomery, Ashley Madekwe, Seth Gabel, Shane West, Xander Berkeley, Stephen Lang and Tamzin Merchant star.