Remembering The Craft

It's that time of year again as new shows pop up on TV like an infestation of annoying gnats.  Entertainment junkies (myself included) hope that some of those shows surprise us and become glorious butterflies, but for the most part, most of the new series are derivative and unimaginative, buzzing in our ears, flying in our faces, and occasionally biting our necks to grab our attention as we try to shoo them away and look for something better.  Okay, enough with my painful analogy -- my point is that a lot of new programs are springing up, but which ones are worth our while?  One such rookie show is The Secret Circle.  Many critics have pointed out that it follows the familiar CW formula to draw its demographic target, but the premise reminded me a lot of the 1996 movie The Craft.

The Secret Circle deals with a teenaged girl named Cassie (played by Britt Robertson) who moves into a new town and attends a new high school only to discover her classmates are witches, who bring her into their ranks, unleashing untapped powers and plenty of drama.  The Craft deals with a teenaged girl named Sarah (played by Robin Tunney) who moves into a new town and attends a new high school only to discover her classmates are witches, who bring her into their ranks, unleashing untapped powers and plenty of drama.

Fantasy tales about a coven of supernatural women aren't anything new.  Charmed, starring Shannen Doherty, Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, and later Rose McGowan, lasted from 1998 through 2006, following the exploits of a family of witches.  The Craft, however, did it best.  It was a guilty pleasure and earned a cult following.  A lot of its success stemmed from the committed performances of its cast -- in addition to Tunney, Neve Campbell and Rachel True gave it their all, despite the b-movie trappings of the plot.  The supporting cast, including Skeet Ulrich and Christine Taylor, were topnotch.  The highlight, of course, was the outstanding and scary Fairuza Balk who came a long way from her role as little Dorothy in Return to Oz.

Who knows if The Secret Circle will find its footing and establish itself as a memorable show in its own right, taking the witch stereotypes to new levels?  In the meantime, if you're looking for an unassuming but fun little horror movie, check out The Craft.  It's campy, it's wacky, it's funny (intentionally or not), it's genuinely creepy at times.  As Halloween inches closer on the calendar, think about adding The Craft to your vieweing queue.

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