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Shadowhunters - The Mortal Cup (Series Premiere) - Advance Preview: "An Interesting Start"

1.01 - "The Mortal Cup"
Directed by McG
Written by Ed Decter
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

Shadowhunters, based on the book series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. As a disclaimer, I have to admit I have never read the books. As another disclaimer, I have seen the 2013 film starring Lily Collins, which I kind of liked but wasn't totally in love with. With those in mind, I went into watching the premiere of Freeform's new show (it's going to take a while to get used to saying Freeform instead of ABC Family) with a totally open mind. I wasn't really disappointed. In fact, I was thoroughly entertained by this somewhat overstuffed pilot. By overstuffed, I mean there's a lot of information to process if you're new to the world of the Mortal Instruments. I'm technically new, since I haven't read the books, so did this premiere convince me to become a fan of this world?

While I'm not 100% convinced, I have to admit I enjoyed this 40 minute supernatural extravaganza. There was a lot of action going on with a lot of fight sequences and mystical special effects, so there really wasn't a chance for a single minute to be boring. The best way I could sum up the premiere would be to say it was 'intriguing'. I think that's the best thing for a pilot to be, considering it has to draw viewers in to stick with the series. I'm going to be the first in line to watch the next episode, and I will continue to give this show a chance as I truly believe there's a lot of potential. There's a rich mythology lurking behind the framework that the show has yet to fully explore, so I'm a little excited to see where this show takes us. And just like every TV show based on a book series, I might as well start reading them.

The pilot will feel very familiar to those who have watched the movie, but in saying that, there are some differences to set these two mediums apart. As a sort of non-spoilery summary, it's Clary Fray's 18th birthday, and she has yet to know about the crazy, magical world she lives in having been living under the protection of her mother, Jocelyn. But then she comes to the attention of Shadowhunters, and all at once her life is in danger from monsters and demons. This isn't the whole movie condensed into one episode, in fact, the pilot just scrapes the surface. It's enough for viewers who may not have liked the movie to give this a chance as it seems there will be way more exploration to the book series. The main villain, Valentine, seems like a very worthy foe, and the costumes for some of the demons and monsters are truly thrilling. The special effects, I must say, are very good.

The script could have definitely used more work. Parts of the dialogue felt very clunky and a little unrealistic, which can be quite distracting. Some performances aren't overly amazing, but at least there aren't any bad actors among the cast, and I'm sure once we pass the pilot, they'll only get better. I really enjoy Katherine McNamara as Clary Fray and I think she does a brilliant job leading the show; she's definitely someone to root for. I love the dynamic between her and her best friend Simon, and the chemistry between her and Jace was a little overshadowed by the action of the episode - there really isn't time for sparks to truly fly yet. From what I remember, the pilot of Pretty Little Liars was no walk in the park either, but that show went from strength to strength (mostly), and I can see the same thing happening here. If the show sticks with the more interesting aspects of this fascinating world, then I can see a great show come from this if it's given the chance.


This isn't the best pilot I've ever seen, but it's far from bad. In fact, it's very enjoyable despite some of my nit-picky dialogue issues. I think fans of the series will love Freeform's new show, and it begins to explore the rich mythology from the get-go. There's a lot of action sequences that will keep viewers from yawning, and the characters only get more interesting by the minute. Perhaps you won't be blown away, but you're sure to be entertained. Give this show a chance and you'll probably not regret it, especially if you want a show filled with demons and witches and warlocks and monsters and vampires and... I could go on, but I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not you'll watch this show when it premieres on Freeform, Tuesday January 12.


"You can see me?"

"How can someone as smart and perceptive as you not realise that the person sitting right there is in love with you?"

"That's what I'm afraid of."

"I was drugged, right?"

"It's not for us... it's for him."

Any burning questions about the first episode of Shadowhunters? Can't wait for the show to begin? Let me know how excited you are about this series premiere in the comments and be sure to watch it when it aires on Freeform on January 12!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of the 'Abyssal Sanctuary' series. Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and reviews 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Pretty Little Liars, Salem, Scream Queens and Sleepy Hollow. Gavin will write previews for Devious Maids and Shadowhunters, and backs-up Empire, Once Upon a Time, Reign, Scandal and Supergirl. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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