Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Review of The Last Witch

Written by Sally Wainwright
Directed by Robin Shephard

Alice: "I'm a witch as well."
Daniel: "I don't suppose you can prove that?"

I guess it must be because Halloween is coming around the corner but when I haven't been watching various documentaries on witches (thank you, Nat Geo, BBC4 and More4 respectively) or getting myself enamoured with American Horror Story: Coven, then the fourth of SkyLiving's Drama Matters pilots has similarly been a little spellbinding.

Since leaving Coronation Street in 2012, Katherine Kelly has come under the same fate as other former wife of Steve McDonald, Suranne Jones (who popped up in other pilot, Lawless last week) and never been off our screens for too long. Mr Selfridges was already a massive hit for her this year and if this pilot manages to get picked up, it could be something of a hit for her too. The ingredients are certainly there already.

Kelly plays a 500 years old cursed witch named Alice Lister who we learned pretty fast was doomed to walk the Earth alone and kill any man she falls in love (at least sixteen of them have perished so far) after trying to kill her out of control sister, Jane. Of course just because Alice might have to walk the Earth alone, doesn't mean that death was an actual deterrent for Jane as we soon found out here.

Within the hour Jane was jumping from the body of a dog to kindly Matilda (played by Anne Reid) and then landing in the body of a comatose journalist named Kate (Maimie McCoy), setting up a very modern day rivalry between the warring sisters should this get picked up for a series.

Like most of the pilots, The Last Witch is definitely a very female oriented one with Kelly, Reid and McCoy getting the most screen time and characterisation throughout - not a bad thing, mind. Gregg Chillin (DaVinci's Demons) as Daniel and William Ash (Waterloo Road) as a grieving husband are somewhat underused by comparison. The former himself is presented as a love interest for Alice while the latter is Kate's husband. Hopefully both characters themselves are more developed should the show being picked up for a series.

- Alice went through at least three different aliases while being hanged for murdering some of her lovers.
- I liked the method in which Alice was able to get people to do what she wanted - a nice masterclass in subtlety there.
- Alice's general curse isn't that dissimilar to Zoe's one in American Horror Story: Coven, though presumably it will be depicted in a less graphic way though.
- The makers of Switch could've learned a lot from this pilot alone.

Out of all the pilots that SkyLiving have, I really do think this is the only one that could run for at least a series. It has all the potential and scope and it would be a shame if SkyLiving didn't pick it up and aside from In The Flesh, we don't have that much in the way of UK supernaturals dramas, do we?

Rating: 7 out of 10


Anonymous said...

On the topic of witch shows, there's another new one called Witches of East End that premiered on Sunday on Lifetime. Mom and I found it quite good. It's more romantic and less horrific than American Horror Story: Coven, although the pilot starts with a murder. It's based on a novel by Melissa de la Cruz and is about the Beauchamp family of witches, who were cursed for some reason dating back to at least the Salem Witch Trials. Joanna Beauchamp is cursed with immortality, while her daughters Ingrid and Freya are repeatedly killed by one tragedy or another related to magic around the age of 30 and then she gives birth to them again and has to watch them grow up and die again. Joanna's estranged, less responsible younger sister Wendy becomes a cat and is cursed to have nine lives, which she is running out of whenever she gets accidentally or deliberately killed.

This time around, Joanna hasn't told Ingrid and Freya of their witch heritage; Ingrid, the older, is a rational-minded librarian and Freya, the younger, is a bartender and engaged (but is mysteriously drawn to her fiancé's brother, who she may know from a past life). Wendy returns to warn Joanna that a mysterious enemy with a grudge wants to kill off the entire family permanently and is going around disguised in Joanna's form doing evil in her name (such as the afforementioned murder) and reviving others who have clashed with the Beauchamps over the centuries, making things very dangerous for an unaware Freya and Ingrid (as well as making trouble for Joanna with the police).

The novel Witches of East End gets good reviews. In it, as opposed to the show, Ingrid and Freya know about their situation. And their family and Freya's betrothed and his brother turn out to really be incarnations of figures/gods from Norse mythology. Don't know if the TV series will keep that angle.

shawnlunn2002 said...

I've heard of Witches of East End but I'm not sure of it. I like cheesiness much as the next person but it might be a bit too cheesy for me though.

I'll watch the pilot when it airs over here though for the time being, American Horror Story: Coven is my main witch centred show at the moment.

Anonymous said...

The pilot episode I saw was surprisingly (to be honest) not cheesy, with the sole exception of the Freya being drawn to Killian part, and that fortunately didn't take over the episode. For the rest, I found it a refreshing episode.

Anonymous said...

Three episodes in, and Witches of East End is only getting better. There's actually not been any cheese to speak of; it's quite a serious show, though the characters do have senses of humor, as people normally do.

Anonymous said...

The big draw is the relationship between the mother, daughters and aunt.

A Gentle Writer said...

I know this post is seven months but I just watched The Last Witch and I loved it!
The only thing that bothers me about the movie (pilot? TV special?) is that we didn't really find out what happened to Miranda after she drove off.
I realize that after Miranda/Jane saw the article about Kate being in a coma she would have "jumped" Kate's body, but does that mean Miranda is dead now? Cause if she is, that would really suck as I like the character and adore the Anne Reid as an actress...*sigh*...
I really wish it would have been turned into a series...I would have probably watched it obsessively.

shawnlunn2002 said...

It was done in a series of pilots but nothing has been confirmed since. It's a shame because it really does have potential for a series.

Zahra Bhatti said...

I know im late and I just saw the pilot episode of show The last witch AND cant find the rest anywhere. Has the show been cancelled or what? help please.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Only a pilot episode was made. SkyLiving never picked it up for a series.

Zahra Bhatti said...

Oh that's sad. Thanks anyways!