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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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| Courtesy Kathy Bates as Madame LaLaurie in FX's "American Horror Story: Coven."
Review: New season of 'American Horror Story' looks like it could be a winner

American Horror Story (Wednesday, 11 p.m., FX) is a series of season-long stories, one having nothing to do with the next.

Except for a number of the actors, who return in different roles.

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Season 1 was a very entertaining tale about a family and their haunted house. It was great fun.

Season 2 was a train wreck - a disastrously bad amalgam of a haunted asylum, Satanic possession, sadistic medical experimentation and outer-space aliens.

So it was with considerable trepidation that I sat down to watch Season 3, titled "American Horror Story: Coven." But after watching the first hour, I'm cautiously optimistic.

As the title suggests, this season is about witches. It centers on Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies in New Orleans - a stately old home that houses a finishing school for witches.

Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) is sent there after she loses her virginity to her boyfriend and, with powers she didn't know she had, kills him in the process. She arrives to discover that some teenage witches are bitches, including snotty movie star Madison (Emma Roberts).

The school's headmistress, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson), feels a responsibility to the young witches. Cordelia's youth-obsessed mother, the powerful witch Fiona (Jessica Lange), wants to lead the girls in a more dangerous direction.

Hey, I was won over (for at least a week) when, in the midst of a mother-daughter argument, Fiona tells Cordelia, "Don't make me drop a house on you."

There's also what at first seems to be a separate storyline about the horrific Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), who we meet in flashbacks to the 19th century. The character is based on an actual historical figure, Delphine LaLaurie, who tortured and murdered her slaves.

Let's just say that storyline is not as separate as it seems.

There's still plenty of time for "American Horror Story: Coven" to crash and burn. As with all TV series, we don't know where this one is going.

But it gets off to a very good start.

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