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  • Series Premiere Date: Apr 20, 2014
  • Season #: 1
Salem Image
Metascore
49

Mixed or average reviews - based on 16 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 81 Ratings

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  • Starring: Xander Berkeley, Shane West, Seth Gabel
  • Summary: In 1692 Massachusetts, John Alden (Shane West) returns from war to find his friend Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel) leading the Salem witch trials and his former lover Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), married to the elderly and wealthy George Sibley.
  • Genre(s): Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Suspense, Science Fiction
  • Creator: Brannon Braga, Adam Simon
  • Show Type: In Season
  • Season 1 premiere date: Apr 20, 2014
  • Episode Length: 50
  • Air Time: 12:00 AM
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 16
  2. Negative: 5 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    Apr 17, 2014
    80
    When Salem isn’t being deliberately outrageous, it’s cultivating a dynamic that could be fruitful as things move along.
  2. Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Apr 18, 2014
    70
    There's plenty of room in the graveyard for Salem, although it's way too early to tell if it can effectively build on the scary and sensual elements introduced in Sunday's premiere.
  3. Reviewed by: Curt Wagner
    Apr 18, 2014
    63
    Salem as a whole reflects the difference in the work of West and Montgomery. Yet its wildly uneven premiere has enough going for it to make me watch at least another episode.
  4. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Apr 17, 2014
    42
    Salem is replete with scenes that make little sense. It’s mostly a jumble of decent enough special effects, less-than-decent acting, a script that also should be lashed with “10 hard ones” and lots of blood-curdling screaming.
  5. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Apr 17, 2014
    40
    The Salem pilot is rather plodding except when occasionally punctuated by these more gonzo scenes.
  6. Reviewed by: Zack Handlen
    Apr 18, 2014
    33
    Salem uses real life to prop up its shallow theatrics, and the result is too distractingly tacky to be enjoyed as pure foolishness.
  7. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Apr 17, 2014
    25
    It’s like watching the cast of “One Tree Hill” put on a production of “The Crucible.”

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 27
  2. Negative: 5 out of 27
  1. Apr 22, 2014
    10
    I am in! I want to keep watching. I think it was a good start for a supernatural horror-drama with witches. I totally believed the love storyI am in! I want to keep watching. I think it was a good start for a supernatural horror-drama with witches. I totally believed the love story the same as the characters on it. Visuals were pretty good and disturbing. They made me think about "The lords of Salem" by a Rob Zombie and of course AMH; even though I liked that one, Salem it's a different approach to witches. I also liked the mood of it, it's quite dark and unexpected. According to the pilot, I would like to think that Salem will go to another level not playing safe. Expand
  2. Jun 30, 2014
    10
    I have just caught up to episode 11 of this show and I absolutely love
    it. The setting is fantastic as well as the actors. I for one am a
    I have just caught up to episode 11 of this show and I absolutely love
    it. The setting is fantastic as well as the actors. I for one am a huge
    fan of Stephen Lang as "Increase Mather" and I also love Shane West who
    plays "John Alden". I feel the pacing is very well done if you can get
    to episode seven when Stephen Lang arrives I feel you will be hooked if
    not before then. I love the horror scenes they are done just right in
    my opinion and I would recommend this show to anyone who loves this
    time period or a moody/creepy show with Amazing actors. Only two more
    episodes left in season one and I can't wait.I will revise it when I watch the last two episodes.
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  3. Apr 21, 2014
    9
    Very impressed with the season premiere of Salem. The producers did their homework before filming began, they did this by talking withVery impressed with the season premiere of Salem. The producers did their homework before filming began, they did this by talking with History Professors, Historians and Writers/Authors that were dedicated to the late 1600's of the Salem witch trials. This show had a really strong start, they waste no time in getting right into witch craft, possession, betrayal and punishment, far from boring. Good acting, strong characters and alright setting and graphics. Guaranteed worth the watch if you're into the Salem Witch era or a good investigated history into what civilians had to endure back then. I'm looking forward to what season one will bring, the previews look AWESOME!!! Expand
  4. Apr 24, 2014
    8
    Salem is WGN America's first Drama, and I believe it will mark the possible beginning of a new successful cable network. The fact that SalemSalem is WGN America's first Drama, and I believe it will mark the possible beginning of a new successful cable network. The fact that Salem is on WGN, and not on a pay-network like HBO or Showtime, Is a very good thing. Almost always, dramas set in the past featured on pay-networks cater to the fact that they are allowed to show whatever they want without any restrictions. The writers get so carried away in sexual violence and historical accuracy that they forget the main purpose of their series -- to entertain. What if a younger audience, or someone like me, who doesn't like watching women be treated as sexual objects and tortured wants to watch a fantasy drama or period piece? Well, we can't, not on the pay networks. But now, with Salem, we can. I am proud to report that the pilot had no sexual violence! Woo-hoo!

    Salem is a fresh take on the supernatural, venturing into the dark past of Salem, the center of the witch trials of 1692. The show centers on a War veteran (Shane West) who returns to Salem after being held prisoner by Native American's for 5 years only to discover his town has become a warzone as well. However, this battle is very different than the one he fought. Witches hide in plain sight. You don't know who you can trust. Salem does a good job creating an accurate feeling environment, and focusing on all the right things. It feels a bit like Sleepy Hollow, only, if Ichabod had not woken up in 2013.
    I recommend.
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  5. May 23, 2014
    7
    It could be better, it could be worse. This is one of those shows I watch just because of one character, and right now it's Alden, of course.It could be better, it could be worse. This is one of those shows I watch just because of one character, and right now it's Alden, of course. It's going a bit too fast...It lacks mystery to it. But gruesome scenes are great. Expand
  6. Apr 28, 2014
    5
    The Salem Witch Trials have always been both one of the blackest and of the most fascinating pages in American history. It would not haveThe Salem Witch Trials have always been both one of the blackest and of the most fascinating pages in American history. It would not have taken long before popculture would have picked up on these gruesome but mysterious events. Too bad the Salem series WGN aired for the first time last Sunday is quite atrocious for my liking.

    The sneak peek they sent out into the world brought us a clear message : these would not be the nice and gullible witches from the Secret Cirkle, nor the funny kind we know from shows like Charmed. No, these witches were downward scary. Salem was bound to be a horror flick : WGN's answer to the success of American Horror Story. But they did not deliver at all.

    So where did it go wrong?

    For a start : the series did not succeed to put forward even one likable character. You could argue that John Alden is not that bad, but you wouldn't invite him to your dinner party either. He left his girlfriend in a hypocritical puritan hellhole where you get whipped and branded for having sex, to go and kill some Indians and still claimed he loved her. When the girl – Mary, discovers she has a bun in the oven, she desperately turns herself to the devil.

    Years later, when the brave war hero Alden steps back into town he finds the city is held by some sort of witch craze. Everybody is scared while the religious forces in the area seem to be happy to hang people from the highest tree out of fear they might have maybe possibly by chance been a witch. But as the episode enrolls, we find out that fear might have been well-grounded.

    And yes it all seems scary and yes there are some slight plot twists, but I still ask myself why I would take the time to sit down and spend one hour in front of TV when there is nobody to really root for.
    Besides, the especially bad acting of Seth Gabel ( John Alden) makes me puke a bit in my mouth every time he appears on screen.
    The storyline isn't that exciting either : we get to see some CGI scary stuff that made us shiver for a second or two and there were some scenes I enjoyed quite a lot, but there is nothing there that would lift the series out of the pit of damnation, better known as ' the average bin' .

    You could argue this is only a pilot, and that we should wait until the series has evolved a bit more. And I would agree. Still : it does not have the grandeur of American Horror Story, by far. When I peek at the IMDB page of the series I must note that there will be some more – and maybe even vital, changes throughout not only the cast, but also the series itself. I'll camp out for another episode or two because there is a lot of potential. Now just hope the creators find the guts to bring that potential forward.

    www.geekin.me
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  7. Jun 16, 2014
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The trailer for Salem showed a lot of potential to be a supernatural, historic, sci-fi, mystery, horror and intrigue show. But this show disappointed me more than I would like to admit. After learning who the witches are in the first episode, and seeing them do witchcraft, I am sure nobody in the town of Salem is smart enough to catch them. I mean seriously (spoiler: Mary marries the most rich and powerful man in the Town, and right after she gets married to him, he becomes unable to speak; all his power with the Town residents are transferred to her.) It doesn't take a rocket scientist to suspect that something is up.

    In addition, John Alden's dad made a "Ned Stark" move by being executed before he could put dirt on Mary's hands. This could have been a bigger move if saved for later. Since the show just started, the audience doesn't care if someone dies, especially someone with only about 5 minutes of screen time.

    The villains in the show have no motive except to kill everybody, in which case they can end the show in about 5 episodes because of their demonstrated powers. There is no politics of power in this game. I don't get why Mary doesn't just gag everyone with a toad and kill them one by one. They would be too stupid to think it's her anyways. Even if I had no reason to suspect that Mary, I would make people believe she's the witch because she's a major **** to everyone in the show. She is constantly moody and I don't think anyone would mind if she died.

    Sometimes, a historical fiction needs to stray away from its historical roots and focus more on the fiction and vice versa. This show doesn't do it for me. The villains are too overpowered and the townspeople all hunt witches like Ned Stark plays the Game of Thrones (poorly). If this is your first horror/intrigue/mystery show, you might be able to stand it, but if you've watched anything good in the past, you know there's a lot better things to watch in the same genre.
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See all 27 User Reviews