We Have Some...Questions About Freeform's New Military-Themed Witch Series

Behold, the most boring witch costume ever.
Behold, the most boring witch costume ever.
Image: Freeform

There’s never been a shortage of TV witches, but there’s a distinct boom lately with shows like Charmed, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Freeform, home to Siren and Shadowhunters, is jumping on the trend with yet another addition to its “edgy-YA-supernatural” arsenal. It’s called Motherland: Fort Salem, and it sounds bonkers.

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Here, read the description for yourself, courtesy of Deadline:

Set in an alternate America where witches ended their persecution 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the U.S. government to fight for their country, Motherland: Fort Salem follows three young women — two of them played by Taylor Hickson and Jessica Sutton — from basic training in combat magic into early deployment. In this world, the traditional roles of gender and power are flipped, with the more dominant women on the front lines fighting looming terrorist threats that are familiar to our world — but with supernatural tactics and weapons.

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The math there doesn’t quite add up; as my colleague Beth Elderkin immediately pointed out, 300 years ago was 1719, long before there was anything resembling “the U.S. government,” but several years after the frenzied era of the Salem witch trials in the early 1690s. Perhaps this alternate America also has some alternate history to go with its present-day applications of “combat magic” in the war on terror? (And while we’re asking questions, do the terrorists also have supernatural powers? They must, otherwise why would Salem bother training a military in the first place?)

Deadline notes that Motherland: Fort Salem already has a 10-episode order, and will also star Amalia Holm and Demetria McKinney, with a third role being recast after the show’s pilot.

The trade also quotes Freeform’s president, Tom Ascheim, as saying the network is “so excited to be able to tell this story rich with female empowerment, complex storytelling and an incredibly creative canon.” We’d be a little more excited if the creative team for this celebration of girl power wasn’t so dude-heavy, between creator/showrunner Eliot Lawrence (Claws); executive producers Will Ferrell (yes, that one), Adam McKay (Vice), and Kevin Messick; and pilot director Steven Adelson, who’s also an executive producer along with Maria Maggenti. But, of course, the series just got picked up, so maybe there’ll be a little more diversity behind the scenes once it swings into production.

Freeform also dropped a li’l teaser already, which tells us nothing other than one of the younger characters is excited and another is sullen as hell. Also, the American flag has gotten an appropriately witchy makeover in this alternate reality.

No word yet on exactly when Motherland: Fort Salem is headed to Freeform.


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DISCUSSION

cogentcomment
CogentComment

I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear the thick Canadian accent of the general (or coven head or whatever) at the ‘United States Army’ lectern either.

If done right this could actually be pretty interesting, but I have a distinct feeling that the alternate history worldbuilding here is going to be a disaster - let alone all sorts of other problems that this is going to have to work through.

I’ve always thought the unaired Ron Moore 17th Precinct pilot showed the most promise of all the alternate modern world-of-magic premises, but unfortunately he tried to get it made 3 or 4 years before the explosion of distribution would have given it a shot and has been too busy with Outlander to try again.

‘In the House, In the Heartbeat’ (the 28 Days Later theme) layered over the end scene explanation of what a bullet is and what disastrous change it implies for that world going forward really is one of the more memorable series teases - almost at the level of the ‘By Your Command’ reveal at the end of the BSG miniseries.