Thursday, August 6, 2015

Good Witch, Season 1, Episode 1: Starting Over... Again

We have a woman in a posh house and rather dated taste in lighting. She’s Cassie Nightengale and she’s getting new neighbours – Sam and his son Nick (who doesn’t want to be there) who have decided to move in in the middle of the night. She thinks new neighbours, personally I would have thought thieves. She uses woo-woo to help them get in the house – aiding and abetting their house breaking. Sam think she has a magic touch because this show is not even slightly subtle it seems

She also responds “I think you already have” when he says “I’ll see you around.” What does that even mean?

The next day she is being all domestic with an old man in which they both run down a mind boggling array of people whose names I won’t remember because the show hasn’t given me a reason to yet. From this I get that he’s a grandfather, she’s a mother and a widow and her husband was police of chief. She also doses your drinks with weird plant extracts so if you have allergies you might not want to have tear with her.

She also has a daughter who is a melodramatic teenager who may have broken a record for contrived dialogue – she does establish that the old man is her grandfather so we’ve established the family unit. Mumsy serves her daughter what sounds and looks like a Pot Porritt. She may also be psychic. Or have caller-display.

Not satisfied with inflicting random herbs on her family, Cassie also invites herself into the house of her new neighbours (Sam seems oddly unperturbed with having a neighbour who doesn’t know how to knock) to insist they also drink her drowned plant cuttings. Sam is in my camp when it comes to strangers invading his home to inflict random plant products on me, and opts for coffee. He’s not big into herbs, nor is he, as a doctor, big on strange women deciding to lecture him on a healthy diet.

The estate agent thinks Sam won’t last long. With neighbours like Cassie, nor would I.

Time for some more characters – the new police chief, Derek (the last one being Cassie’s dead husband who I have decided was poisoned by herbal concoctions and/or drown when he dared to say no to one). There’s also a big dedication ceremony for the recently deceased Jake apparently being organised by the world’s most annoying woman, Martha the Mayor. I judge this whole community for electing this woman.

Now we need more characters – Brandon and Tara, husband and wife whose marriage has hit some rocks due to some nebulous things he did.

At school daughter Grace and her friend Anthony discuss new arrival Nick and how Grace totally won’t be all impressed by him. So love interest is established, I guess. Grace continues to be psychic and runs into Nick and it’s misunderstood hate at first sight so they’re definitely going to be a couple. They talk later and Grace decides she hates him because he wants to go back to New York. Definitely a couple.

Sam sets up his new medical centre with in a place that only snows from one angle (bad continuity editor! Bad!). Cassie has stalked him to this new location, she has a shop next door and uses random woo-woo to convince a kestrel to leave his shop. Because kestrels often enter buildings. He also finds that there isn’t a lot of demand for a doctor in the town because of Cassie and her magic shop

He does have one potential patient – Steph, a woman who has seen an unmarried doctor and is ready to hook him and reel him in. She makes a point that Cassie has been single for a long time. Brandon appears to tell everyone he should go. You just arrived man. Did you come in just so Steph could tell us she owns a restaurant and that you’re in a band? Apparently so. I think Brandon is Cassie’s son

The mayor has apparently lured Sam into town with a lot of lies and exaggerations and continues to be an appallingly awful caricature. She now decides she hates the doctor because he won’t crumble in front of her so tries to acquire personal information illegally.

Old man George has a health scare (aha! Cassie’s poison is kicking in!). Sam is concerned that the old man has blood pressure problems and has decided to ignore his doctor’s medication and instead take herbal medicine from someone with no apparent medical qualifications. George decides he just doesn’t like doctors.

Grace tells her mother she’s having a psychic obsession about Nick which Cassie happily handwaves. Grace points out that her psychic ability to see the future completely failed to see her dad dying. Caller display and ability to find a classroom are kind of lacking in comparison.

Brandon goes to see new police chief guy so we can all be reminded he’s keeping a secret from Cassie. Ok, strike 2 - no more scenes with Brandon where he randomly inserts himself in odd situations so he can shoe-horn in his story with all the subtlety of a drunken rhino. It’s tiresome.

After ignoring Grace’s psychic advice about skipping class, Nick gets in trouble and we learn that he and Sam have moved to town because Nick was naughty back in New York. This leads to Nick deciding that he now wants to be friendly with Grace.

We finally see Brandon’s secret when the third child of the family, Lori, arrives home and Brandon shows them all he’s got a job as a policeman. No-one is happy about this because of the death of daddy. I also think Brandon and Lori may be Cassie’s dead husband’s child, not hers.

Cassie confides in estate agent guy to get some trite and very clichéd advice. Lori and Grace then have the most ridiculously contrived conversation about how they should support Brandon. Honestly, does anyone ever talk like this? Really? Even for Hallmark this is ludicrously on the nose.

Lori goes to see Brandon for more sad “no I can’t do this.”

Poor Sam realises that Cassie is stealing all of his custom – and he goes to see her because he’s very unhappy that people are taking medical advice from someone with zero qualifications. The music is ominous enough to suggest the world is going to end – while Cassie looks all heatbroken.

Of course this is all cast as Sam being terribad awful and close minded and not wanting people with HEART CONDITIONS deciding they don’t need to go to a doctor.

Of course Sam apologises for expecting life and death medical decisions to be handled with proven science and qualifications and Cassie serves him up another mystery brew pretending it’s coffee and he dies from a terrible allergy to dandelions he can normally control because people don’t lie to him about the drinks they serve.

So more cutesy scenes – and apparently Cassie is opening a bed and breakfast. George is still ill but won’t go to a doctor. Lori is a writer and learns the local paper is shutting down due to lack of anyone being interested in helping him. Lori is terribad sad about this. Stephanie continues to try and catch her doctor no matter what (along with other women who have clearly decided to net themselves a doctor). And George also tells Sam how terribad wrong he is for wanting to use medicine to save lives. He keeps poking George and eventually gets him to seek actual medical help. Cassie continues pushing her herbs on Sam who prefers medicine, and makes him drink one recipe because Hippocrates swore by it. Of course Sam failed to diagnose anything wrong with George because that would involve medicine working and she serves up another of her trite, meaningless lines.

Instead it requires trite lines to him finally diagnosing allergy – of course, he has to apologise to Cassie for not being a big fan of her herbs.

Lori dares to order a coffee. Not while Cassie is around! How dare you want caffeine! She’s also tried of her job because she doesn’t want to write the story she has to – this is very much leading to her quitting her career to work on the small town paper which is likely to have much more compelling stories.

Estate guy is angsting over his ex-wife. He has to go to a function with her and her new husband so recruits Cassie to play fake-date. Or possibly not fake-date. She checks and, no, it’s not a date. Honest. It’s totally going to be a date.

Awful mayor is also caught speeding by Brandon on his first day. She also hasn’t renewed her driving license. She also has unpaid parking tickets. She may also have a body in the boot but that may be interesting. Of course Brandon has now earned the enmity of the mayor.

When the mayor complains, Lori decides she could write a whole story about how the mayor is above the law – so she decides to cave. Which leads to Lori and Brandon bonding again.

Nick decides to steal something from the school because stealing statues is what all the cool kids do. Grace doesn’t tell on him but she does tell him to return it. Their tiresome love/hate thing continues. Instead Grace gets caught with it in her locker.

So she gets in lots of trouble and Nick is awful and refuses to confess to take the blame. Grace worries that Nick is a bad person when she had hoped otherwise and mopes with Cassie. Of course it all changes because Nick does confess because he has a heart of gold.

But Nick and Sam do have a bonding thing

And everyone makes peace about Brandon’s choice to become a policeman and they all go to the dead husband/father’s dedication ceremony. And it’s so twee I’m amazed it doesn’t come with a diabetes warning.

And, yes, Lori has quit her job and is now working for the Eagle and everyone is totally happy with her doing that.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to endure Cassie’s condescending “I’m-so-wise-you-silly-person” smile. By the end of the season I think I’m going to want to burn the whole thing down. Not that it’s her only over the top emotional reaction – it’s laid on with a trowel

“Laid on with a trowel” may as well be the subtitle of this show. Everything is over-the-top and not even in a fun, campy, cheesy way. Lori and Grace literally sat down to have an after-school-special exposition conversation which was so convoluted my eyes have friction burns from the rolling. The caricatures that populate this town fail to even amuse in their silliness.

Yes, over the top camp, caricatures of silliness could be amusing. Laid on with a trowel could be amusing. IF the show were even slightly self-aware. Or maybe had a laugh track rather than this really really syrupy music all the time. But it isn’t – it seems to genuinely think these characters, scenes and plot lines are genuine, sincere and how people would actually act.

I doubt very much that Sam’s objections to Cassie are going to be taken seriously – and this is an important subject. Alternative medicine is a highly unregulated industry with little to no oversight that can and does cause a lot of harm, especially if turned to instead of actual medicine, diagnosis and treatment. Now there are various reasons why people would turn to alternate (or, far better, “complementary” medicine), from beliefs to tradition to simple economics (herbs can easily cost less than scripts in countries without a decent medical system) but instead it’s just going to feed into her being a witch and Sam just being close minded and wrong. “Alternative medicines have worked for thousands of years” uh-huh and for thousands of years we’ve had families expect to lose up to half their kids before they reached adulthood and plagues that could decimate vast swathes of the population. This does not fit my definition of “works” and it’s this same damn fool statement that is trotted out by anti-vaxers or parents who let their kids die from damn eczema or asthma or other diseases actual medicine can cure.

And invoking Hippocrates? Yeah I get it, father of medicine but he’s still 2,000 years out of date (he believed in the humours, for example)! Has this woman literally missed 2 millennia of medical advancement? And this man is hailed as the father of western medicine in part BECAUSE he had a scientific approach to medicine

I don’t think there’s enough snark in the world to make me endure this show. Some more magic would have also helped. It's also whiter than a Republican Convention in a snow storm and straighter than a Catholic summit on family life. I'm going to convince Renee we don't have to follow this one