Good Witch Pilot (2015)
Since this character was first introduced some eight years ago – cannot believe it’s been that long, I’ve been a fan of this darling series. Up until now it’s been a world that’s only unfolded in 2-hour films. 2015 had different plans. Tonight, we finally get to see the premiere of Good Witch – as a TV series! Something that is sure to delight both old and new fans of the series.
Starting over is never easy. But that’s just what Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell) needs to do. Part of that involves moving back to Grey House and along with her stepchildren’s grandfather, George (Peter MacNeill) re-opening her bed and breakfast. With the help of Middleton’s small-town comforts and aid of her good friend Ryan (Anthony Lemke), Cassie has all the support she needs to make this work. Then her grown stepchildren have predicaments of their own. Brandon (Dan Jeannotte) has decided his dream isn’t to manage bands. This causes trouble in his marriage and leads him back to Middleton. Then there is Lori (Hannah Edicott-Douglas). She’s living what she thought was her dream, but she is dealing with writer’s block caused by her limited ability to write real journalism. All of this is compounded by the fact that the siblings are returning home for a ceremony honoring their dad, Jake: a respected member of Middleton society who was killed in his duties as chief of police.
Cassie not only has to work her magic to help her extended family, she also has to guide her 15-year-old daughter, Grace (Bailee Madison). Grace too is missing her dad and with the changes going on in her siblings lives, she’s not without her own – one of which is her “gift” of feeling things before they happen. When a new doctor Sam Radford (James Denton) and his teenage son move next door to Grey House, both Cassie and Grace find themselves trying to help the newest residents of Middleton.
Those of us who have been with this titular character from the beginning might have some legitimate disappointments in the direction the storyline goes. The missing character of Jake leaves a hole in the script since he was an important part of the movie series – and a character we watched fall in love with Cassie and eventually loved what they built together. That being said, the actor wasn’t able to commit to another TV series and rather than re-cast, the character was killed off. Because of this, I’d say if you haven’t seen the films, let this pilot be your introduction to Cassie Nightingale and her family. It’s going to be more rewarding to start from here and spare yourself the adorableness. There is also one casting change (not that I mind) though most everyone else is back in their original roles.
Aside from the great cast and cute plots, what I have liked (up until now) about this series is that it’s steered clear of any magical omissions. It’s left it up to us to decide whether there is really magic in Cassie. Sure, there are brief magical hints that she might be a witch, but the show has also never established that she is either. Instead it’s been all about her helping someone to find their own courage to defeat a problem which can have a magic all its own. With the show, we actually do have “magic” given Grace’s special gift, though the pilot never stretches the possibilities.
When it comes right down to it, complications and (minor) complaints aside, I loved this pilot. It was fulfilling to the characters and series. Beautiful (as always) with the sets and minor trinkets and poignant with its sense of right and wrong, and the importance it places on family. It casts a spell you won’t mind falling under.
Good Witch premieres tonight on Hallmark Channel.