REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: BBC IPLAYER
In a dystopian, nationalist present, witches have struck a deal to fight as an all-female branch of the American military. The series focuses on three new recruits - Raelle, Tally, and Abigail - as they train hard to one day fight a mysterious terrorist group known as the Spree, whose favoured method is making hoards of people think they’re extras in The Happening.
American imperialism floats and flies over the show like a banshee, and the compelling premise of a matriarchal, staunchly patriotic society where witches coexist is enough to hook your interest. What Fort Salem can’t quite do is sustain it. Creator Eliot Laurence has more than a skeleton of a fascinating idea, but much-needed detail and at times purpose go amiss in a way that prevents you from really sinking into this alternate world. The Handmaid’s Tale this is not. The cast however are all exceptional, as is Laurence’s beautiful eye for presentation which fleetingly raises its head in spectacular ways. Taylor Hickson is fantastic, raising Raelle to be more than a run-of-the-mill rebellious character.
It is strange that a near all-female story with obvious aims to be empowering features a number of established male creators behind the camera (not least Will Ferrell and Adam McKay). Whether connected to this or not, some of the twists feel a touch predictable. All the ingredients are there, but more inventiveness is needed to make Fort Salem linger in the memory. There is great potential for the show if Season 2 is injected with more depth and risk.