Possessed ‘Vines’


Napa Valley may be about to get a whole lot creepier. The sweeping hills and scenic vineyards are both a haven for tourists and a source of great pride for locals, but they’re the last place one would expect to find anything more sinister than a bad batch of bacteria. Until now, that is.

NBC is currently planning a new supernatural prime-time soap opera for its 2011 season. The series, aptly titled Vines, will be set in Napa Valley, and will focus on a troubled family of winemakers and their lives, not unlike the CBS drama Falcon Crest, which aired from 1981 to 1990.

But unlike the characters on Falcon Crest, Vines‘ fictitious family won’t be plagued by money-hungry relatives or an overbearing matriarch, but instead will be forced to grapple with the mystical and potentially dangerous powers that lie within their own grapevines. With this formula, and with a high-profile horror producer reportedly on board, Vines is sounding more and more like Falcon Crest meets Children of the Corn.

Mystical and paranormal themed shows had a rather large following in the late 1990s with Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and though ABC’s Supernatural is still going strong after six seasons, these days there seems to be little room for more than one successful network series dealing with the occult at a time. CBS’ Ghost Whisperer was cancelled after five seasons and ABC’s short-lived Eastwick lasted only one.

Hollywood news sites report that Vines was originally conceived as a feature film by writer Mark Kruger and was adapted as a series with the help of film producers Michael Aguilar and Taka Ichise. While Ichise has proven in the past to be a master of the atmospheric horror film, having produced the original Japanese productions of The Ring, Dark Water and The Grudge, it’s unknown how his style will translate into American prime-time television. It’s also unknown if Vines will actually be filmed in the Napa Valley, or how the show, should it become a reality, may influence viewers’ opinions of the area.

Allison Walker, vice president, communications of the Napa Valley Destination Council feels that despite whatever negative connotations may be portrayed in the show, it will take more than a few vines with mystical powers to taint Napa’s lustrous image.

“We all know Napa Valley has magic vines,” says Walker, clearly painting the projected show with a tourism hue. “But I wouldn’t say they’re dangerous—more like wonderful.”