Wizards of Waverly Place



9:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12
Disney Channel

Warner Bros. has Harry Potter, and now Disney has Harry Potter Lite. Coming off "High School Musical 2," the channel can't seem to miss with programming that targets kids and tweens, and "Wizards of Waverly Place" should continue to cast a spell on that demo.

The series stars Selena Gomez as Alex and David Henrie and Jake T. Austin as her older and younger brothers, Justin and Max, respectively. They are wizards in training, schooled by their dad (David DeLuise) and nurtured by their mom (Maria Canals Barerra). Outside the family, though, no one knows about or even suspects their magical upbringing.

The show has all the not-so-secret ingredients to keep kids coming back for more: the cute, precocious but far from angelic kids at the center; the loving but slightly goofy parents; the traces of sibling rivalry; and the clique of mean schoolmates who never learned to play nice. Add colorful sets and clothes and a sprinkle of attitude, then let it bake for a season before licensing.

That's an oversimplification, of course, and a tribute to creator/exec producer Todd Greenwald and exec producer Peter Murietta for making it seem so effortless. After the premiere, the show moves to its regular time slot at 8:30 p.m. Fridays.