Salem is an American historical fantasy horror television series created by Adam Simon and Brannon Braga airing on WGN America beginning April 20, 2014. The series first appeared as part of WGN America‘s development slate in July 2012 under the title Malice.
On May 5, 2014, Salem was renewed for a thirteen episode second season.
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” who were a part of day-to-day life, but were not who or what they seemed to be.
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.
“The pilot, directed by Richard Shepard, doesn’t do anything too strenuous or vast with its visuals or sense of place, but it ably implies that the woods are best left to the witches and devils, and you might not want to go wandering in. Shepard also sets up enough creepiness with the Mercy character — she’s basically food for devil animals — to hint that the series will continue to make you as uncomfortable as it can afford.” Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter
“This late-17th-century dive into the Salem, Mass., witch trials paints the Puritans as hypocritical scolds, yet also embraces the notion that there really were witches operating at the time, which makes their capital punishments seem a little less crazed and paranoid — never mind that it runs counter to the rather more dull historical record and lessons learned about the true nature of witch hunts. Mostly, this basic-cable drama plays like a rather flat supernatural soap, despite the lush period trappings.” Brian Lowry, Variety
- 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.
- 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.