SHADOWHUNTERS - ABC Family's "Shadowhunters" stars Matthew Daddario as Alec Lightwood, Dominic Sherwood as Jace Wayland, Katherine McNamara as Clary Fray, Alberto Rosende as Simon Lewis and Emeraude Toubia as Isabelle Lightwood. (ABC Family/Bob D'Amico)
OpinionReviewsTelevision & Film

Recap: SHADOWHUNTERS Delivers a Magic Ginger in a Solid Start

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Episode 1001, “The Mortal Cup”

[photos: ABC Family/John Medland]

First up, a little bit of disclosure: I wrote and directed the very first movie on Katherine McNamara’s IMDb page: The Bride & The Groom. She may not remember it, but I remember this young, fresh-faced girl wanting to learn everything about acting, everything about the film-making process. And while she may only have been an extra in my film, her ambition was clear and focused.

I was also impressed with how grounded she was, and had several back-and-forth notes with her mother about keeping things real. From everything I’ve seen as I’ve watched her career, it seems she’s still grounded while still being ambitious. After appearing on Broadway — with Angela Lansbury, no less — and several guest turns in Disney channel series, we here at home knew it was only a matter of time before she got the lead in a series.

Shadowhunters is Kat’s chance to show people that she can carry a show. And for the most part, it works. But I have quibbles.

Spoilers_Shadowhunters

Shadowhunters gets right everything The Nine Lives of Chloe King and that comparison can be made here, because of so many similarities between the two show:

  • Girl comes of age, learns she has powers
  • Girl is the center of a long-standing conflict between factions
  • Factions all out for the same object/target/goal
  • Girl has her own Scooby Gang
  • Girl learns of her destiny after being rescued by Hot Boy
  • Family secret that could put everyone in peril

MAXIM ROY, KATHERINE MCNAMARA

Only this time, it’s the mother, Jocelyn, who has the deep dark secret, as she’s got Clary under protection spells to keep her from remembering anything about who she really is and the family connection to magic.

Now that Clary’s turned eighteen, those protection spells are wearing off, and Clary finds herself caught between forces all searching for The Mortal Cup, which Jocelyn hid. The dialogue suggests that whatever she did to the cup was also the event in which she supposedly died, and possibly the villain of the piece, Valentine, was supposed to have died in that exchange as well.

Not so. Valentine is very much alive, and his minions in The Circle are using shape-shifting demons to collect the blood of Muggles “mundanes” in order to move forward on a nefarious plan, the details of which we’ve yet to hear. But Valentine and Jocelyn clearly have a past, and since Clary’s father is dead … ahem … I’m going to go out on a limb (having not read the books, mind you) and predict that Valentine is Clary’s father. Because that’s a very ABC Family/Freeform/MTV/CW/pretty network thing to do.

SHADOWHUNTERS - “The Mortal Cup” - One young woman realizes how dark the city can really be when she learns the truth about her past in the series premiere of "Shadowhunters" on Tuesday, January 12th at 9:00 - 10:00 PM ET/PT. ABC Family is becoming Freeform in January 2016. Based on the bestselling young adult fantasy book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, "Shadowhunters" follows Clary Fray, who finds out on her birthday that she is not who she thinks she is but rather comes from a long line of Shadowhunters - human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. Now thrown into the world of demon hunting after her mother is kidnapped, Clary must rely on the mysterious Jace and his fellow Shadowhunters Isabelle and Alec to navigate this new dark world. With her best friend Simon in tow, Clary must now live among faeries, warlocks, vampires and werewolves to find answers that could help her find her mother. Nothing is as it seems, including her close family friend Luke who knows more than he is letting on, as well as the enigmatic warlock Magnus Bane who could hold the key to unlocking Clary's past. (ABC Family/John Medland) KATHERINE MCNAMARA

Clary’s first exposure to this world comes at the night club Pandemonium, run by the warlock who put the protection spells in place. When she sees Shadowhunters Jace and his team take out a group of demons working for The Circle, she of course freaks out, leaving her Scooby Gang behind and running home, only to find The Circle has managed to find the place. Jocelyn sends Clary through Gary Seven’s Purple Mist Express™ to Detective Luke Garroway, who not only is Mom’s boyfriend, who happens to be investigating the blood-draining murders, who happens to also be part of another faction chasing the Cup. So when Clary overhears him talking about his motives, she now has nowhere to go.

Leaving her back at the apartment, where she’s attacked by a shape-shifter. Jace comes to the rescue just in time (of course) and takes her back to Shadowhunters HQ and treats her wounds. And of course there’s Alec, who wants to do everything by the rules, and his sister Isabelle, the really pretty one who doesn’t like the rules this is Jace’s Scooby Gang.

Jace is fascinated by the fact that Clary has “the Sight” meaning she can see magic beings even when they use a cloaking charm and he’s already got it in his head that there’s more to Clary Fray than even Clary Fray may know.

KATHERINE MCNAMARA, DOMINIC SHERWOOD,

At this point, I’m pretty good with the story, and the performances are solid. I’m biased, of course, with regard to Kat, but she’s holding up well as the one who’s going to carry this show. Everything depends on how Clary processes all of this new information. If she suddenly takes to it like Anakin Skywalker the Chosen One, with no struggles at all, it’s going to be pretty hard to swallow. But if this first episode is any indication, I think Clary’s going to be having a tough time with most of what she learns at least until the spells completely wear off and she can remember that magic’s been in her life before.

Stunts and fight choreography were well executed  McG directed the pilot, so yeah but I really got annoyed with some of the editing. Scenes were intercut in weird places, and that threw off the pace of the show for me. I’m guessing there’s material on the cutting room floor (does anyone even get that reference anymore?) that would have made a few places work a little better, but overall it didn’t hurt to the point where it’s a bad episode.

ALBERTO ROSENDE, KATHERINE MCNAMARA

Given that first seasons of most shows, especially genre shows, are rocky at best, Shadowhunters is off to a good start. The worldbuilding is solid, pretty much organic no long bouts of exposition vomit and performances are what I would expect from a show on a network aimed at the tweens (although the shot of Clary literally between two young men, each wanting her to go with him, was a bit much…).

And for the record, I hated The Nine Lives of Chloe King.

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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