TV tonight: American Horror Story: Coven premieres with record numbers

Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates shine on American Horror Story: Coven

Photo: FX/American Horror Story: Coven

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2013 —Last Wednesday night the third season premiere of “American Horror Story: Coven” set a new record for viewers, and with good reason. The witch themed season has enlisted Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett to weave a history romping tale of torture, rape, incest, and the timeless conflict between mother and daughter.

The show opens in New Orleans, 1834, at the home of Bates’ psycho-socialite Madame Delphine LaLaurie (an actual historical figure), who routinely torments her slaves in her attic turned torture chamber. Bates is delightfully over the top and it is obvious she enjoys her role as the ultimate bad witch.


SEE RELATED: TV tonight: premiere of ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ on FX


Despite the many clichés that her character enlists, Bates lets us know in the first five minutes that she is talented enough to find the right blend of campy and creepy for the role. Her “Gone With the Wind” accent would sound ridiculous coming from anyone else, but Bates character is so mesmerizing that we happily accept this as part of her character.

As the second scene opens we are introduced to the teenaged Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) as she attempts to have sex with her boyfriend, an act that results in his death. Because of the incident her parents reveal to Zoe that she is descended from a long line of witches. This disturbing revelation means Zoe is promptly shipped off to Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in New Orleans.

The academy is run by the mild-mannered Headmistress Cordelia Foxx  (Sarah Paulson) until her mother, Fiona, (Jessica Lange) the Supreme witch shows up. While Cordelia believes she best serves her pupils by teaching them to repress and control their powers, Fiona has a very different approach. “When witches don’t fight, we burn,” she tells her young charges.

Lange is just as convincing as Bates in her role. Despite being the most powerful witch of her generation, Fiona’s obsession with defying the rigors of mortality adds a decidedly human element. Her quest for eternal youth leads her to resurrect Bates’ character from the grave. Both women are determined to find a fountain of youth, confirming the fact that witch or not, all women go through a midlife crisis.


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Their uneasy alliance alone is a delight to behold, and more than enough to keep an audience. Add to the mix a revenge seeking voodoo princess wonderfully played by Angela Bassett, and the result is a season that will please old fans while attracting a lot of new ones.

“American Horror Story: Coven” airs at 10 p.m. on FX.

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT:

7:30 p.m.

FOX: Boston at Detroit in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series.

8 p.m.

ABC: Toy Story of TERROR: (New) When Woody, Buzz and the gang stop at a motel, one of them goes missing and the rest must figure out what is going on before they suffer the same fate. 

CBS: Survivor: Blood vs. Water: (New) A contestant makes a sacrifice for a loved one; tribal council becomes wild and unpredictable.

NBC: Revolution: (New) Neville infiltrates the Patriots as they infiltrate Willoughby; Rachel fights for her life; Aaron’s crazy visions return.

CW: Arrow: (New) Oliver discovers that thieves are hijacking medicine being sent to Glades Memorial; Roy is arrested after attempting to stop the thieves; Laurel plans to catch the Arrow.

PBS: Nature: (New) The Season 32 premiere spotlights the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation program, which strives to save injured and-or orphaned sea otters, through its work with a female pup.

8:30 p.m.

ABC: Back in the Game: (New) Danny changes his persona after the Cannon tells him that girls are attracted to bad boys; Terry plans a wild night out with Lulu.

9 p.m.

ABC: Modern Family: (New) The adults struggle to make it to a hot new restaurant in time for the reservation Jay pulled a lot of strings to get.

CBS: Criminal Minds: (New) The BAU team meets the new section chief (Esai Morales), who shares a long history with J.J.; an unknown subject leaves victims unable to communicate.

NBC: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: (New) A repeat rape victim seeks Benson’s help. Also, Munch retires. Sofia Vassilieva guest stars.

CW: The Tomorrow People: (New) Stephen seeks help when Ultra tries to probe his brain; when Ultra’s evil motives are exposed, John wants Stephen to act as a spy.

PBS: Nova: (New) Part 1 of 4. New York Times technology reporter David Pogue explores things that may change the way people live, beginning with efforts to tweak physiology and engineering in order to move people and machines faster.

9:30 p.m.

ABC: Super Fun Night: (New) Kimmie decides to take advantage of the office Halloween party to don a sexy costume and tell Richard how she feels; the guys from Kimmie’s building invite the girls to a party.

10 p.m.

ABC: Nashville: (New) Rayna cancels the remainder of the tour; Teddy proposes to Peggy and tries to keep it a secret; Tandy discovers information about the death of Rayna’s mother.

CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: (New) The team is brought in to investigate when contestants on a cooking show accidentally eat human flesh during the competition.

NBC: Ironside: (New) A poker game gone wrong sends Ironside on a hunt - and Teddy undercover.

PBS: Raw to Ready: (New) Part 1 of 4. A look at how raw materials are turned into powerhouse machines begins with the extraction of precious metals from beneath the earth, a feat that requires a 232-ton, two-story-tall dump truck.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Toddlers & Tiaras at 8 p.m. on TLC

American Pickers at 9 p.m. on History Channel

Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles at 9 p.m. on BRAVO

Property Brothers at 9 p.m. on HGTV

Cheer Perfection at 9 p.m. on TLC

Ghost Hunters at 9 p.m. on Syfy

Restaurant Stakeout at 9 p.m. on Food Channel

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman at 9 p.m. on SCI

Tyler Perry’s For Better or For Worse at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on OWN

Duck Dynasty at 10 p.m. on A&E

Top Chef at 10 p.m. on BRAVO

How the Earth Works at 10 p.m. on SCI

South Park at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central

Ghost Mine at 10 p.m. on Syfy

American Horror Story: Coven at 10 p.m. on FX

House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV

House Hunters International at 10 p.m. on HGTV

Key & Peele at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance on ENC

Mumford on FLIX

Paranormal Activity 2 on FX

Mondays at Racine on HBO

Shanghai Noon on IFC

Any Given Sunday on SUND

Rawhide on TCM

Reindeer Games on TMC

9 p.m.

Life of Pi on HBO

The Matrix Revolutions on MOMAX

Fast Five on USA

Later tonight:

Open Heart at 9:30 p.m. on HBO

Blade: Trinity at 9:40 p.m. on ENC

Playing By Heart at 10 p.m. on FLIX

Mean Girls at 10 p.m. on SHO

Fight Club at 10:30 p.m. on IFC


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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.

 

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