Salem (TV series)

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Salem
Salem - Title Card.png
Genre Supernatural fiction,
Drama, Thriller
Created by Brannon Braga
Adam Simon
Starring Janet Montgomery
Shane West
Seth Gabel
Tamzin Merchant
Ashley Madekwe
Elise Eberle
Iddo Goldberg
Xander Berkeley
Joe Doyle
Oliver Bell
Theme music composer Marilyn Manson
Tyler Bates
Opening theme "Cupid Carries a Gun"
Composer(s) Tyler Bates
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 20 (list of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Brannon Braga
Coby Greenberg
David Von Ancken
Location(s) Shreveport, Louisiana
Cinematography Michael Goi
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) Fox 21 (2014)
Fox 21 Television Studios (2015-)
Release
Original channel WGN America
Original release April 20, 2014 (2014-04-20) – present
External links
Salem - Official Site

Salem is an American supernatural fiction drama television series created by Brannon Braga and Adam Simon, airing on WGN America starting April 20, 2014.[1] It is the first original-scripted series distributed by WGN America.[2] The series, starring Janet Montgomery and Shane West, is inspired by the real Salem witch trials in the 17th century.

Series overview[edit]

Salem is a fictional story based on the infamous Salem witch trials in the 17th century in colonial Massachusetts, when the government was dominated by Puritan leaders. It questions whether the Puritans were right in their actions, whether the people punished were innocent, and centers on powerful figures who controlled day-to-day lives of ordinary people, but were not who they appeared to be.[3] John Alden (Shane West) and Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) find themselves in the middle of an epic romance, even as Puritan witch hunts engulf the town of Salem in hysteria, horror, and despair.[4]

Historically, Salem Village and Salem Town feuded over property, grazing rights and church rights. The government was dominated by Puritan leaders. People were scrutinized closely and this resulted in obvious discord. They were afraid of being persecuted for anything that may offend the Puritan mindset. The word "witch" seemed an easy and appropriate curse hurled at someone who behaved abnormally.[5]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

  • Janet Montgomery as Mary Sibley, wife of George Sibley and a witch, whose double life of love threatens her position of power in Salem. She once carried John Alden's baby and still has strong feelings for him.
  • Shane West as Captain John Alden, a war veteran and Mary's lover, who returned home as the voice of reason and defender of innocent victims in the middle of Salem's witch panic.
  • Seth Gabel as Cotton Mather, Salem's well-educated reverend and John Alden's friend. Changed by the local sex-worker Gloriana, with whom he was in love, Cotton stopped Salem's witch-hunts.
  • Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale, a rebel witch and a talented young artist. Like Cotton Mather, she too is determined to prevent unnecessary deaths.
  • Ashley Madekwe as Tituba, the witch who controls Mary. She convinced Mary to give her and John's baby to the devil.
  • Elise Eberle as Mercy Lewis, a girl once tormented by Mary Sibley's witchcraft. Mary later turned her into a witch.
  • Iddo Goldberg as Isaac Walton, the wisest person in Salem. As a punishment for his fornications from his past, he was once charged with cleaning the town's waste and removing dead bodies.
  • Xander Berkeley as Magistrate Hale (season 1), a witch and a chief politician in Salem. He was killed by his daughter Anne, who wants to help save the people of Salem from unnecessary deaths.
  • Joe Doyle as Baron Sebastian von Marburg (season 2), the charming son of Countess Marburg.
  • Oliver Bell as John (guest season 1; starring season 2), Mary and John's long lost son.

Recurring cast[edit]

  • Stephen Lang as Increase Mather, reverend, Cotton Mather's father, and a fanatical witch-hunter. He was killed by his son Cotton, determined to prevent more deaths resulting from witch-hunts.
  • Michael Mulheren as George Sibley, the ailing, wealthy head of the Selectmen of Salem, spelled by Tituba and his wife Mary. He marked Isaac Walton as a fornicator.
  • Azure Parsons as Gloriana (season 1), a prostitute and Cotton's lover, banished from Salem by his father Increase Mather.
  • Lucy Lawless as Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg (season 2), one of the remaining survivors of ancient German witches, also known as Hecate - Greek goddess of witchcraft.
  • Stuart Townsend as Dr. Samuel Wainwright

Development and production[edit]

The series first appeared as part of WGN America's development slate in July 2012, under the title Malice.[6] On June 4, 2013, WGN America bypassed the pilot stage and placed a series order for 13 episodes, under the new title Salem.[7] On November 8, 2013, filming of the series began in Shreveport, Louisiana, on an expansive set reflecting 17th-century Massachusetts.[8]

On May 15, 2014, Salem was renewed for a 13-episode second season, titled Witch War.[9][10][11]

Casting[edit]

Casting announcements began in October 2013, with Ashley Madekwe first cast in the role of Tituba.[12] Seth Gabel was the next actor cast, in the regular role of Cotton Mather.[13] Janet Montgomery and Xander Berkeley were cast in the lead role of Mary Sibley and the role of Magistrate Hale, respectively.[14] Shane West later signed onto the series regular role of John Alden. Also cast was Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale.[15] Elise Eberle was later cast in the series regular role of Mercy Lewis.[16] On the June 1, 2014 episode, Stephen Lang joined the cast in the recurring role of Increase Mather.[17]

After the first season, Lucy Lawless and Stuart Townsend have joined Salem in the recurring roles of Countess Marburg and Samuel Wainwright, respectively. Joe Doyle and Oliver Bell have also joined the second season in regular roles of Baron Sebastian Marburg and Mary's lost son, respectively.[18]

Episodes[edit]

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

Salem scored 49 out of 100, based on 16 critic reviews on Metacritic.[19] On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season scored 54%, with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10 based on 26 critic reviews.[20] Upon reviewing several episodes of the second season, Gavin Hetherington of SpoilerTV has called Salem the "best goddamn show on TV right now."[21][22]

U.S. Ratings[edit]

The season two premiere rose 150% in adults 18-49 in Live+7 ratings, from 0.2 to 0.5.[23] The second episode rose 300% from 0.1 to 0.4.[24]

Accolades[edit]

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2015 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards[25] Favorite Actress on Television Janet Montgomery Pending
Saturn Awards[26] Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series Salem Pending

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Shows A-Z - salem on wgn". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ Bacardi, Francesca (December 19, 2013). "Watch WGN America's 'Salem' Teaser". Variety. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ "SALEM: Witches Are Real". WGN America. 
  4. ^ "SALEM: An Introduction". WGN America. 
  5. ^ "Historical Aspects of Salem". WGN America. 
  6. ^ "Development Update: Thursday, July 12". The Futon Critic. July 12, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (June 4, 2013). "WGN America Greenlights Its First Original Scripted Series, Brannon Braga's 'Salem'". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ "WGN America Announces Start of Production on First Original Scripted Series, "Salem"". The Futon Critic. November 8, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ Eggersten, Chris (May 5, 2014). "Supernatural series is the network's first original scripted drama". HitFix. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (January 28, 2015). "'Salem' Season Two Premieres Sunday, April 5 at 10PM". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  11. ^ "SALEM Season 2 Teaser Trailer". WGN America. 
  12. ^ Masters, Megan (October 8, 2013). "TV Line Items: Revenge Vet's Witchy New Role, Idol Champ's CSI Gig, Lies Lands T.I. and More". TV Line. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ Bucksbaum, Sydney (October 14, 2013). "'Fringe,' 'Arrow' alum Seth Gabel cast as lead role in 'Salem'". Zap2it.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 28, 2013). "Janet Montgomery To Topline WGN America Drama Series ‘Salem’". Deadline.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  15. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (November 1, 2013). "'Nikita's' Shane West Set as Male Lead in WGN America's 'Salem'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Development Update: Wednesday, November 6". The Futon Critic. November 6, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  17. ^ Stephen Lang Joins WGN America's 'Salem'
  18. ^ Lesnick, Silas (January 14, 2015). "Salem Season Two Adds Lucy Lawless, Stuart Townsend and more". CraveOnline. 
  19. ^ "Salem – Season 1". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Salem: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  21. ^ Hetherington, Gavin (April 20, 2015). "Salem - From Within - Review: "By the Severing of Our Tongues"". SpoilerTV. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  22. ^ West, Shane (April 20, 2015). "Shane West on Twitter: "I can dig it"". Twitter. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  23. ^ "'Better Call Saul' Leads Adults 18-49 Gains, 'The Americans' Tops Percentage Increases in Live +7 Cable Ratings for Week 28 Ending April 5". TV By the Numbers. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  24. ^ "'Better Call Saul' Leads Adults 18-49 & Viewership Gains, 'Salem' Tops Percentage Increases in Live +7 Cable Ratings for Week 29 Ending April 12". TV By the Numbers. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Never mind Oscar, here's the 2015 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Nominees Ballot". Fangoria. January 15, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  26. ^ Blake, Emily (March 3, 2015). "2015 Saturn Awards: Captain America: Winter Soldier, Walking Dead lead nominees". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 13, 2015. 

External links[edit]