Our hero is John Alden, who returns after a long campaign of fighting the American Indians to find a Salem gripped in irrational fears and his true love ( Made in Jersey's Janet Montgomery) married to a rich old ogre (Michael Mulheren).
Alden is played by Shane West of Nikita. With all the frontiersman hair, however, West looks more like Gary Sinise here than he does himself.
Most of the names in the show have historical precedents, although substantial liberties have been taken. For instance, Alden, whose parents came over on the Mayflower, was in truth a sea captain and merchant in Boston who was only tangentially caught up in the witch trials while passing through Salem (although he famously wrote of the experience).
And the servant Tituba, an Arawak Indian brought as a slave from Barbados, appears here much altered and played by Revenge's Ashley Madekwe.
This series is the first effort by WGN America to become a truly national outlet with original programming. Until now it has offered mostly a patchwork of Chicago sports teams and syndicated shows. The channel is available in Philadelphia on Dish, DirecTV and Fios, although, as in many markets, not yet on Comcast.
The collision of supernatural and colonial in Salem is far darker and spookier than in Fox's hit Sleepy Hollow. And while you may admire what an ambitious and well-crafted show this is, there's a reason Puritans have never been show-biz darlings. They're kind of a gloomy bunch.
10 p.m. Sunday on WGN America