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Originally published Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 5:09 AM

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In Lifetime’s ‘Witches,’ daughters inherit the practice

Lifetime’s new Sunday night show, “Witches of East End,” stars Julia Ormond, Mädchen Amick and a welcome dose of snappy repartee.

New York Times News Service


‘Witches of East End’

9 p.m. Sundays, Lifetime

Tonight in Prime Time

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The latest additions to the witch infestation sweeping through the fall television season are delightful company, a welcome relief from the rather humorless witches and possible witches who have already turned up in shows like “The White Queen,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “The Originals.”

They are the women of “Witches of East End,” a new Sunday-night series on Lifetime. Although the show is a drama, it is served up with a droll comic sensibility that is a refreshing change in this season of sorceresses and she-devils, which gets even witchier with the arrival of “American Horror Story: Coven” and a new “Sabrina” cartoon on Hub.

The show is based on Melissa de la Cruz’s novel about a family of witches on Long Island, although the story has been tweaked a bit. Joanna (Julia Ormond) has raised her two daughters, Freya (Jenna Dewan Tatum) and Ingrid (Rachel Boston), to young adulthood without telling them they’re witches. Joanna has good reason to be protective, given her past experiences with child-rearing, revealed when her sassy sister, Wendy (Mädchen Amick), turns up.

Evil events and strange dreams are conspiring against Joanna’s efforts to live like a normal human, as well as against Freya’s efforts to have a stress-free wedding. Before the episode’s end, flowers have burst into flames, photographs have come to life and two people have been murdered.

But the proceedings never turn too dark, thanks to zippy repartee among the stars. Amick is hilarious, and Dewan Tatum and Boston make a pretty amusing pair of mismatched sisters.

There is a lot of heavy fare on television on Sunday nights. If “Witches” can retain its wry tone, it will be a satisfying alternative for viewers looking for a lighter way to end the weekend.

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