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March 27 2015

(SPOILER) James Marsters joins HBO pilot about Salem Witch Trials. Marsters' role in The Devil You Know will be quite different than his role as Spike on Buffy. He'll play a minister who gets involved in the witch trials.

The proposed series, created by Jenji Kohan of Orange is the New Black and Weeds, will also feature Eddie Izzard and Karen Gillan of Doctor Who

[ edited by impalergeneral on 2015-03-28 21:39 ]

Ooh! I could get into this!
I hope it goes to series. How do HBO pilots work?
Well they have the pilot shot. Then they check their blood and naked meter to make sure it has the minimum HBO level before they decide if they want more or less of it.
button, button, who's got the button? my money's on the witch...
Great news, and it sounds like it could be a really meaty role as Reverend George Burroughs.
The pilot, at least, is being directed by two-time Oscar nominee, Gus Van Sant.
You had me at James Marsters and HBO. Now that I clicked and saw that Jenji Kohan, Eddie Izzard and Karen Gillan are all involved too I'm more excited than I ever thought possible.

Please let this happen, and please let it be good!
Kind of ironic given the comic series, Spike: The Devil You Know.
Weird seeing Karen Gillan credited for "Selfie," when everyone knows her as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. Or that other show she was in that nobody ever heard of.
@Nebula1400

I know, right? They might as well have said "also starring James Marsters from Dragonball Evolution and Eddie Izzard of Mockingbird Lane fame."
I wonder what approach the writers are going to take with this material. The actual consensus-reality history involves many issues that are far from settled today, and Arthur Miller isn't the only writer to use those incidents as a way of writing about contemporary problems. True Blood does some of that, although with more comic intent.

When this approach to history is carried too far, it oversimplifies and doesn't tell us anything we didn't already believe. What's more interesting to me about that episode isn't the tabloid elements, it's that it was an episode. Before the first accusations, the people of Salem weren't especially worried about witches. After the trials and executions, the regular political authorities came back from their trip to England, said the equivalent of "What were you thinking?", and the townspeople began to realize that they had done something awful. That sequence of events and that process would make an absorbing serial drama, but I doubt it's the drama HBO is planning to make.

[ edited by janef on 2015-03-28 06:20 ]
I do wonder how Jenji Kohan is going to treat it. While I enjoy 'Orange Is the New Black' (mostly because I've worked with Uzo Aduba and love her dearly), 'Weeds' was kind of silly and lost it's way after Season 2. I dread a series about the Salem witch trials being trite.

Keeping fingers crossed that this works out, and turns out to be a good series. It would be nice to see James having regular work again!

As for the article, I have a feeling it was written by someone who hasn't seen 'Doctor Who.' I would think the international following that show has trumps 'Selfie.'
Guest role on a Pilot. This might not end well.
The people involved in this make me excited.

Only yesterday I was thinking of how much I missed seeing James on my screen.
Considering his part is as the male victim of the witch trials, it might just be the pilot (if that's the story the pilot is about). According to Karen, they're going for realism.
I hope HBO runs it and his character survives the pilot.
Super happy for James .. Hopefully 2 Salem themed shows can coexist
Hope he does last on this one. He is one of the most talented Whedonverse actors and definitely deserves to be starring in a good series !

[ edited by baxter on 2015-03-29 01:09 ]
... Is no one going to make a "Spike: The Devil You Know" reference? I know it was the IDW days, but still! Funny coincidence.
OMG HBO is going to do a show about the Salem Witch Trials!!!! Starring James Marsters! AND it's a Jenji Kohan show!!!!! This is like a dream come true! DON'T FUCK IT UP, HBO.

I've been saying for literally YEARS that there needs to be more shows/movies about witches. I'm talking epic, realistic, gritty stories. There's so much you could do with that premise, and yet the genre is pretty much just ignored, except for the silliness of Charmed and the incoherent nonsense of American Horror Story. Because this is HBO I'm really optimistic about this.

BRING US MORE WITCHES.

(I've always thought an epic, sprawling series the likes of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour would be amazing. I wish someone would get on that.)
I trust this will be better than the WGN show, Salem.
Really excited about this! If I were writing it, I would probably start with the hanging for the pilot and then write the show in flashbacks. Wonder how they'll do it. Really hoping they either start early enough in the story to have James around for a long time or that they go the flashback route.
"Those darned Salem judges, with their less-Satanic-than-thou attitudes..."

"Oh honey, let's change it. The Discovery Channel has koala bears."
I'm actually hoping there aren't any witches an this will be a historical account of how (mostly) women were mistreated.
electricspacegirl, at this moment in American culture, the sort of "epic, realistic, gritty stories" I think you are talking about have to be set well in the past or future to avoid anti-defamation issues. There are about as many Wiccans in the U.S. as Quakers. Many Wiccans are highly attuned to depictions of witches in media and popular culture. Fantastic, unbelievable depictions of witches and witchcraft are not protested much because they are obviously works of the imagination. Contemporary depictions of witches as ordinary mortal people get a pass if the witches are unthreatening and nice, like the Good Witch movies and series on the Hallmark Channel.

However, TV or movie depictions of witches as your scary, weird neighbors are going to generate heaps of protest mail because the Wiccans who actually might be your neighbors don't want popular entertainment to increase the chance of their being fired from their jobs, losing custody of their children, or having a Molotov cocktail thrown through their window.

For an outsider, this prompts the question, "Why do you call yourselves witches, then?" but that's a question for another day.
They weren't witches, though. They were women who men controlled by accusing them of witchcraft. That's the depiction I want to see.
redeem147, I agree. An even greater challenge would be writing a script from that position which doesn't treat all religious people as feeble minded bigots. Getting inside the minds of people who have a drastically different worldview from one's own and examining how they make moral choices can make compelling drama.
And immoral choices. Should be possible, since this is history. James' character, for one, was a religious person who became a victim of the trials.

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