A Convergence of Salems

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Go forth and reveal yourselves through stilted, rushed dialog…

They’re different Salems though.

One is ‘Salem’s Lot, the Stephen King novel about Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, that I’ve been reading (slowly) a bit here and a bit there. So far, it’s been an enjoyable novel. I think King always starts his novels very well, building up the plot at a good pace while getting you vested in the characters. Unfortunately, he often blows this investment with a hurried ending that doesn’t feel like it does justice to the work he put into getting you lulled in. I expect that he’s just always so excited about some new idea that he tries to sprint to the finish line quicker than he should. So, overall, this books remains a pleasure to read.

The other Salem is the TV show, about the town in Massachusetts that has become synonymous with Puritanical extremism and witch trials. This story is something else entirely from the slow paced book about Jerusalem’s Lot.

Fear, hysteria, panic, psychosis, and witches. Salem in the 17th century embodied all of these – if not in reality, at least legend. 
As much as I wish for the show to be good. I’d be surprised if it can rescue itself from what I have  seen so far. The problem is not one of production value, which actually seems to be OK, but the acting is weak – even foolishly killing off the one character played by the best actor of the bunch in early episode 2. The rest of the actors are trying a bit too hard and are over-selling their roles, while the lines they are given allow little chance that they could ever pull in an audience anyway.

I, admittedly, like slow pacing. My wife thinks its funny and calls most of what I watch boring, but I think Salem would have benefitted enormously from much slower pacing. For instance, in episode 1, we already learn who the witches are. Considering the fact that this is exactly what the people of Salem are trying to figure out, it might have been a better idea to keep that under wraps for a while. Imagine if we were informed exactly who all the Cylons were in the first episodes of Battlestar Galactica…

I don’t think I’ll be giving Salem the opportunity to improve. But I do wish that it had been better.

In the end, it’s a good idea, with poor execution.

 

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