Salem (TV series)

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Salem - Title Card.png
Format Supernatural drama
Period drama
Created by Adam Simon
Brannon Braga
Theme music composer
Opening theme "Cupid Carries a Gun"
  • Dieter Hartmann
  • Tyler Bates
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Location(s) Shreveport, Louisiana
Production company(s) Fox 21
Prospect Park
Original channel WGN America
Original run April 20, 2014 (2014-04-20) – present
External links

Salem is an American historical fantasy drama television series created by Adam Simon and Brannon Braga airing on WGN America beginning April 20, 2014.[1] It is the first original-scripted series by WGN America.[2] The series, which stars Janet Montgomery and Shane West, is inspired by the real Salem witch trials in the 17th century. On May 5, 2014, Salem was renewed for a thirteen episode second season.[3]

Series overview[edit]

Salem is a fictional story of the infamous Salem witch trials, which were not the last, 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 the "real witches"[4] who were a part of day-to-day life, but were not who or what they seemed to be. John (Shane West) and Mary (Janet Montgomery) find themselves in the middle of an epic romance, even as Puritan witch hunts engulf the town in hysteria, horror, and despair.[5]

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.[6]

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, a well-educated town's reverend and John Alden's friend. Changed by the local sex-worker Gloriana whom he was in love with, 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, 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.

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, a prostitute and Cotton's lover, banished from Salem by his father Increase Mather.

Development and production[edit]

The series first appeared as part of WGN America's development slate in July 2012 under the title Malice.[7] On June 4, 2013, WGN America bypassed the pilot stage and placed a series order for 13 episodes, under the new title Salem.[8] The series was created by Adam Simon and Brannon Braga, who also serve as executive producers alongside Jeff Kwatinetz and Josh Barry.[8] On November 8, 2013, filming of the series began in Shreveport, Louisiana, on an expansive set reflecting 17th century Massachusetts.[9]


Casting announcements began in October 2013, with Ashley Madekwe first cast in the role of Tituba, Mary Sibley's alluring and mysterious right-hand woman.[10] Seth Gabel was the next actor cast, in the series regular role of Cotton Mather, a local aristocrat who oversees the witch hunts in Salem.[11] Janet Montgomery and Xander Berkeley were then cast in the series, with Montgomery cast in the lead role of Mary Sibley, the most powerful witch in Salem and the wife of the wealthy Selectman George Sibley. Berkley joined in the role of Magistrate Hale, one of Salem's Selectman.[12] Shane West later signed onto the series regular role of John Alden, a hardened veteran of war and captivity who is consumed into the Witch Hunt of Salem. Also cast was Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale, a talented artist who finds an attraction to John upon his arrival in Salem.[13] Elise Eberle was the last actor cast in the series regular role of Mercy Lewis, Reverend Lewis' powerful thought-to-be-possessed daughter.[14] On the June 1, 2014 episode, Stephen Lang joined the cast in the recurring role of Increase Mather,[15] the father of Cotton Mather and even more fanatical witch-hunter.


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
U.S. viewers
1 "The Vow" Richard Shepard Brannon Braga & Adam Simon April 20, 2014 (2014-04-20) 1WAT01 1.52[16]
Mary is a young, unwed girl pregnant with John Alden's baby in Salem, a Puritanical town. Believing her lover John has died in the war, she is now faced with the Puritans' stocks and forehead branding, or giving her and John's child to the devil. Having chosen the latter, she marries the town's richest and most influential selectman George Sibley, claiming his wealth and power for herself by enslaving him. Reverend Cotton Mather is trying to stop witches from taking over America by killing them. John returns home to witness a witch-hunt, wherein Mary plans to use the trials to get Puritans to kill each other, allowing her to rule Salem.
2 "The Stone Child" David Von Ancken Brannon Braga & Adam Simon April 27, 2014 (2014-04-27) 1WAT02 0.77[17]
John investigates what is really going on in Salem as the witch panic rises. Mary remembers the night she killed her and John's child.
3 "In Vain" Alex Zakrzewski Elizabeth Sarnoff & Tricia Small May 4, 2014 (2014-05-04) 1WAT03 0.44[18]
Mary discovers that John and Isaac interrupted the witches' ceremony. After Isaac is imprisoned, she presses Magistrate Hale to stop doing things behind her back.
4 "Survivors" David Von Ancken Jon Harmon Feldman May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11) 1WAT04 0.32[19]
Mercy Lewis frees herself of Mary's control by removing the familiar creature from within. John again steps in the way of witches' plans.
5 "Lies" Sergio Mimica-Gezzan Tricia Small & Elizabeth Sarnoff May 18, 2014 (2014-05-18) 1WAT05 0.50[20]
Rose tries to get rid of John by learning his past secret from the war with the help of Mary's servant Tituba, who plans to claim Mary's power for herself.
6 "The Red Rose and the Briar" PJ Pesce Joe Menosky & Adam Simon May 25, 2014 (2014-05-25) 1WAT06
The main witch, Rose, gets her throat slit by Mary's new apprentice Mercy Lewis; getting Mary on top of the hierarchy.
7 "Our Own Private America" David Von Ancken Adam Simon & Brannon Braga June 1, 2014 (2014-06-01) 1WAT07 0.54[21]
John discovers the world of dreams. Mary rediscovers her passion for John.
8 "Departures" Alex Zakrzewski Jon Harmon Feldman June 8, 2014 (2014-06-08) 1WAT08 0.57[22]
Reverend Increase Mather restores the witch hunt. George Sibley removes the familiar creature from within and is taken under Increase's care, putting Mary's life at risk.
9 "Children, Be Afraid" David Grossman Elizabeth Sarnoff & Tricia Small June 15, 2014 (2014-06-15) 1WAT09 0.49[23]
Mercy helps George Sibley remain quiet. She also implicates Tituba of being a witch, causing Increase to arrest her and helping Mary from the same implication.
10 "The House of Pain" David Von Ancken Adam Simon & Joe Menosky June 22, 2014 (2014-06-22) 1WAT10
Tituba gives Mercy's and Mary's names to Increase to save herself from his torture, after which Increase orders an arrest of John Alden for witchcraft.
11 "Cat and Mouse" Tricia Brock Jon Harmon Feldman June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29) 1WAT11
Mary tries to kill Increase, while he tries to figure out Mary's weaknesses. Magistrate Hale reveals to his daughter Anne that she too is a witch.
12 "Ashes, Ashes" Bill Johnson Brannon Braga & Adam Simon July 6, 2014 (2014-07-06) 1WAT12
Increase prosecutes John while Cotton defends him. Mercy's girls testify against John under Increase's blackmail, but he still hangs them. Increase then reveals that John is a traitor and a murderer as he killed the New England militia men after their unprovoked slaughter of the non-rival Mohawk Tribe who rescued John from injuries after his battle against the Indians. Mary enters John's cell the night before he is to be hanged, and with a kiss she transports him through spacetime to the forest in the morning.
13 "All Fall Down" David Von Ancken Brannon Braga & Adam Simon July 13, 2014 (2014-07-13) 1WAT13
Cotton Mather kills Increase, thus starting death on a mass scale under Mercy's leadership. Mary reunites with her and John's child, who she thought died that night in the forest.

Critical reception[edit]

Salem scored 50 out of 100 based on 16 critic reviews on Metacritic. More popular with fans than critics, Salem averaged 6.8 out of 10 on Metacritic and 7.2 out of 10 on the International Movie Data Base.[24] On Rotten Tomatoes, it scored 54% with an average rating of 5.5 out of 10 based on 26 critic reviews.[25]


  1. ^ "Shows A-Z - salem on wgn". Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ Bacardi, Francesca (December 19, 2013). "Watch WGN America's 'Salem' Teaser". Variety. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ Eggersten, Chris (May 5, 2014). "Supernatural series is the network's first original scripted drama". HitFix. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ "SALEM: Witches Are Real". WGN America. 
  5. ^ "SALEM: An Introduction". WGN America. 
  6. ^ "Historical Aspects of Salem". WGN America. 
  7. ^ "Development Update: Thursday, July 12". The Futon Critic. July 12, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (June 4, 2013). "WGN America Greenlights Its First Original Scripted Series, Brannon Braga's 'Salem'". Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ "WGN America Announces Start of Production on First Original Scripted Series, "Salem"". The Futon Critic. November 8, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Bucksbaum, Sydney (October 14, 2013). "'Fringe,' 'Arrow' alum Seth Gabel cast as lead role in 'Salem'". Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 28, 2013). "Janet Montgomery To Topline WGN America Drama Series ‘Salem’". Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ "Development Update: Wednesday, November 6". The Futon Critic. November 6, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (April 22, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, + NBA Playoffs, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Naked and Afraid' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, NBA Playoffs, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Mad Men', 'Devious Maids' & More". TVByTheNumbers. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, + 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Married to Medicine', 'Silicon Valley' & More". TVByTheNumbers. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  19. ^ Yanan, Travis (May 13, 2014). "Sunday's Cable Ratings & Broadcast Finals: "Good Wife," "Game of Thrones" Top Viewers, Demos". The Futon Critic. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  20. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (May 20, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + 'Silicon Valley', 'Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'River Monsters', 'Married to Medicine' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 21, 2014. 
  21. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 3, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + NHL Conference Finals, 'Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi's Wedding', 'Silicon Valley' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 7, 2014. 
  22. ^ Bibel, Sara (June 10, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night, 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians', 'Devious Maids', 'Veep', 'Turn' & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  23. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 17, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + World Cup Soccer, 'Keeping up with the Kardashians', NASCAR & More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 19, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Salem – Season 1". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Salem: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 

External links[edit]