Friday, September 25, 2009

TVOD: Eastwick and the Witch as Superhero

Here's a surprise- I expected the TV adaption of The Witches of Eastwick to be a Point Pleasant-type cringefest, or at best, "Desperate Housewitches." It's actually pretty entertaining, for what it is. It doesn't hurt that it stars the radiant Rebecca Romijn and features a cast that's easy on the eyes but can act a bit better than your usual network dregs. Bonus factoid: This is actually the third version of a TV Eastwick.

Interesting to note Romijn played Mystique in the X-Men films. And appropriate, because Eastwick is presenting us with yet another spin on the superhero. This time we have witches as superheroes, which seems to appeal to adult women, just as the new superhero vampires are marketed towards their daughters. If nothing else, studying the archetype will keep me watching.

The movie version of Eastwick is a hopelessly-dated relic of the go-go 80s, when the Baby Boomers were using big budget films to celebrate themselves and their ascendancy in Tinseltown. It was typical of the star-driven formula of Warner Bros., get a bunch of stars together and essentially have them play themselves. The story was always less than a trifle; an excuse to sell the cult of celebrity. John Updike probably enjoyed cashing the check but probably didn't much enjoy the rubbishing of his fairly dark novel.

But there's a hearty dose of Secret Sun-chronicity here: The Witches of Eastwick was filmed in my literal home away from home- namely Cohasset, Mass, where my dad moved when my folks split up. Actually, the only reason I saw the film in the theatres was because I wanted to see the town on screen.

Cohasset was a kind of Hollywood East- back in the 70s the South Shore Music Circus was a big deal and all of the stars stayed at the hotel across the street from my dad's house. I would sit on the porch and see stars like Hal Linden or Donny and Marie (I will say that back in 1978 Marie Osmond was probably the most radiantly beautiful woman I ever saw in person in my youth) or Robert Preston or Charo walking back and forth from Hugo's to Kimball's (both now renamed) by the Sea. It was kind of surreal, come to think of it.

The exterior for Cher's house was a decrepit old boathouse around the corner from my dad's house- we used to jump of the bridge and ride the rapids there. What's more, my grandmother used to attend the church that Veronica Cartwright had her big freakout in. My maternal grandmother lived in Milton, where some scenes for Witches were shot as well.

The town of Eastwick is fictional, but Updike may have based it on Eastham, which was established by my ancestor John Doane and settled by all sorts of Knowleses. I didn't notice many syncs in the Eastwick show, which may have a lot to do with the fact that most people working in TV these days don't seem to be much use as sync conduits.


  1. Mr. Knowles,

    Is there an e-mail address or some other place that I can send news and info of interest to yourself and Secret Sun readers that I come across? I don't want to post off-topic in the comments.

    I know your busy, thanks for your time and the work you put into Secret Sun.

  2. I've never been able to look at cherries the same way after the Witches of Eastwick!

  3. Post away, Nick- if you want the readers to see what you got, take it to them directly.

  4. Re: Witches as Superheroes meme -
    Some of the imagery from the Harry Potter fits in with this. In the trailer for the recent movie, Harry is shown riding his broomstick and clad in his Quidditch uniform, which includes protective gear and the flowing maroon/red robes of Gryffindor. The imagery is very superheroic, with Harry looking a bit like a cross between both Clark Kent and Superman. While riding a broomstick, of course...

  5. Random, but do tell, John Moorcock, any ideas?


  6. Chris, I grew up in Scituate and I had high hopes for the film and like you, I was interested in seeing Cohasset on the big screen. I thought that the combination of Updike and Jack Nicholson couldn't miss. Your analysis is right on. I knew the eighties were nothing like the seventies vis a vis filmmaking as soon as I walked out of the theater. Speaking of Scituate, I don't know how much time you have spent there, but that is one spooky place.

  7. Hi Christopher,
    First time caller, long time listener - great show.

    I got bored and made a spoof of 'The Blob' at;

    What do you think?

    Thanks, paul.

  8. Sphinxie- You're right on. Superheroes are magic themselves, so it makes sense.

  9. Well, I had spare time.

    How do we get hold of your books when I'm in the UK?

  10. It is interesting that you stayed in Egypt for a while. I had moved out of town (1973) by the time you were there. Two of my best friends lived within a two minute walk of your location. One of my friends bought a house in the 80's across the street from where he grew up. It proved to be quite haunted. He still lives there. One can feel cold spots and eerie presences. They think the "ghosts" are relatively benevolent. One warned my friend's wife that her daughter was in trouble taking a bath. It saved the child's life.
    I had a wonderful UFO sighting at Egypt Beach in 1965; I remember it vividly.
    A Sea Monster washed up on Egypt Beach one night in the early 1970's. I saw the thing. The next day the authorities buried it. They claimed it was a basking shark which looked odd because it had been partly devoured by sea fauna. It had a long neck and a huge body. Nobody saw anything that resembled a shark.

  11. Paul, I imagine through the usual channels? I don't know much about that.

    John- Interesting you should bring that up since apparently the first house my dad rented in Cohasset (on Oak St) was apparently haunted as well. That little strip in Egypt looks really terrifying on foggy nights. Someone should film a horror movie there.

  12. Chris,

    If you're interested, here's an article about the phenomenon of skepticism and the impact it has on scientific research and progress.

    "Science in Turmoil - Are we Funding Fraud?" by Dr. Jeremy Dunning-Davies
    Sep 26, 2009

    It addresses questions you've necessarily touched on in the past... What are the pressures within top educational institutions and leading scientific journals which promotes skepticism? Why is it the case that gatekeeper authority is so often awarded to the most fundamentalist of skeptics? And what effect does this have on scientific progress?

    The general thrust is that it's strongly linked to funding pressures (kind of obvious I guess). Still, articles like this are helpful, and I like that instead of scurrying away with their tail between their legs, scientists are beginning to effectively use the internet to shine a brighter spotlight on the specific problem they are faced with: research that conflicts too widely with the general consensus and with the interests of established companies tends to get ignored by the top journals and ridiculed by the dutiful heyena pack of skeptics.      

  13. Oh yeah, Pali- no doubt about it. Thanks for the link.

  14. The traffic cops in Eastham are definitely warlocks so don't drive over 45 on Rt6~~!