american_gothic_cbs_1Tonight on CBS, the 13-part murder mystery series AMERICAN GOTHIC premieres with a surprisingly funny but very tense episode that follows the wealthy Hawthorne family as they are forced to confront sins of the past in an effort to keep those sins from derailing their future.

Virginia Madsen is perfectly cast as the icy and reserved family matriarch, Madeline, who welcomes her brood home to the absurdly large family estate, in an effort to rally around golden child Alison (Hawthorne-Price, played by Juliet Rylance), as she embarks on her mayoral campaign.  The reunion of youngest Tess (Meghan Ketch) and addict-with-a-heart-of-gold Cam (Justin Chatwin, whose hair could be nominated for an Emmy) unearths a startling discovery that sends them on the path to unfurling a decades long family secret involving, what else, a serial killer.  With that mystery comes another – just where has long lost oldest child, Garrett (Antony Starr, BANSHEE), been, and what brought him back?  Oh and how deranged is TOO deranged, as far as child psychopaths go?

The writing is sharp, and as I mentioned, surprisingly funny, as characters like Cam and Tess react to surprise after surprise.  The dark comedy, the humor found in this horrific story of unsolved murder mysteries, gives the show an edge over other thrillers of the same genre.  It’s beautifully shot, directed, edited, and designed – I want to live in every room of the house, while at the same time, I remain convinced that this stately manor is 100% haunted. We recognize the cast from other things we’ve seen them in, like Jamey Sheridan, here playing hubby to Madsen’s wife, but for me the revelation of the pilot was Gabriel Bateman, who plays Cam’s young son.

He’s creepy and innocent all in one possibly insane little package, and definitely someone to keep your eye on!  DVR is already set, so I’m willing to spend some extra time with this family, and think that you should, too!