Television Review

‘Witches’ a bland stew

Julia Ormond stars in Lifetime‘s “Witches of East End.”
Sergei Bachlakov
Julia Ormond stars in Lifetime’s “Witches of East End.”

If I were a warlock, and my eyes turned into pinwheels of fireworks every time I cast a spell, and I could have many lives and deaths across the centuries, I would make Lifetime’s “Witches of East End” into a far better show. It would be funny, sexy, and scary, instead of silly, plastic, and dull.

But I am not a warlock, at least most days, so I am helpless. “Witches of East End,” which premieres Sunday at 10 p.m., will remain a missable new supernatural series populated by wooden actors and feeble plotlines. There is some hope lurking around the edges of the show, thanks to the presence of Mädchen Amick as a somewhat saucy sorcerer who, while dropping a lizard into a pot in the kitchen, casually announces to the house, “Hey! I’m making a vision stew.” She’s the only pinch of spice in this crock-pot.

Julia Ormond, who has been wonderful as Megan’s indifferent mother on “Mad Men,” stars as the bland Joanna, a witch who has been cursed to keep losing her daughters, Freya (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and Ingrid (Rachel Boston). For eternity, “Groundhog Day”-like, she will give birth to them, and they will eventually die, over and over again. This time around, though, Joanna is trying to break the curse, which involves never telling Freya and Ingrid that they are witches. But, of course, they start to realize they’re different and powerful, now that they’re in their more aware 20s, especially Freya.


Freya is about to get married to the handsome, supporting, loving Dash (Eric Winter), but suddenly she’s having dreams about his bad-boy brother, Killian (Daniel DiTomasso). It’s a “Vampire Diaries”-like thing. She finds herself yearning for Killian — you know he’s probably evil because he has the word “kill” in his name — and making out with him, too. Killian merely glances Freya’s way and the white flower pinned in her hair turns red.

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Meanwhile, Ingrid is discovering that she just might be able to conjure up a baby for a friend dealing with infertility. She is, like Brennan on “Bones,” all about scientific facts, but now she’s going to have to reassess. She might also have to join up with her mother and own the forces of witchcraft in order to help Freya — if, that is, Killian happens to cause big trouble.

Ormond is fine, but the younger cast is really unimpressive. Their performances are just this side of the miming you see in those vague, absurd perfume commercials that have oh-so-mysterious story lines about heavy passions. The talking doesn’t help, either. Adapted from the novel by Melissa de la Cruz, “Witches of East End” is a light, empty concoction in need of some good old fashioned toil and trouble.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at