Are there witches working at WGN America, or is everyone there just really, really optimistic about the future? It’s got to be one way or the other, as far as I can tell, because the network has already ordered up a second season of the witchy drama Salem after only three episodes have been aired. And I don’t happen to believe in witches, so WGN execs must be pretty happy with how well the series is doing.
The network’s first foray into original programming, Salem hasn’t exactly been a ratings bonanza, but I guess there isn’t anything else to compare it to beyond Cubs and White Sox games. Taking the Live + 7 ratings into account, Salem debuted to 3.4 million viewers, with 1.5 million in the coveted 18-49 demographic. But the numbers have dropped since, and the official press release states the first two episodes averaged 1.7 million total viewers (806,000 in the demographic) using Live + 3 numbers. (That average almost makes it look like zero people watched it the second week.) And Sunday’s episode was even worse, with less than a half-million people tuning in for the first airing that night. But again, it can technically be called the “greatest WGN America scripted series premiere ever.”
As network president Matt Cherniss put it in the release, “At WGN America, we are committed to delivering compelling, brand-defining programming rich with fascinating characters and Salem has done just that.” How can they be dedicated to brand-defining programming when we’ve only seen three episodes? And three not-very-good episodes at that. (But maybe that’s just my opinion.)
The series takes place in 17th century Massachusetts, right as the legendary witch trials are in vogue. Captain John Adler (Shane West) returns to Salem after serving his country in wartime, and finds his former love Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) is married to his old enemy. And though he doesn’t realize it yet, she’s also running the town (and the trials) through her powerful witchcraft. It does no good to wonder what’s going to happen in Season 2, since I’m not even sure what’s going to happen by the middle of Season 1.
I do know that in the next episode, titled “Survivor,” someone from Alden’s past comes back to haunt him, and Mary starts to lose her grasp on the afflicted Mercy Lewis (Elise Eberle). But most of that comes from the trailer below.
Will the Cotton family continue to wreak havoc next year as well? We shall see. The second 13-episode season will go into production later this year, with plans for a spring 2015 premiere. Chances are, WGN America will have more original programming to team it with. They’re planning on airing the historical drama Manhattan this summer, with in-development projects like Shadow Land, Scalped and Radiant Doors moving forward to give the witches some suitable company.
Are you guys excited about more Salem coming next year, or do you just want them to burn it all?