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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > TV > Charmed - Season One

Charmed – The Complete First Season


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: D     Episodes: C+



Since the advent of the original Bewitched in the mid-1960s, along with kids’ comic book and cartoon equivalents (Capser’s friend Wendy, for instance) did Pop culture suddenly start to deal with empowerment of women just as The Women’s Liberation Movement kicked in.  The idea of women of any age being empowered transmuted in the 1980s, sometimes by just being masculinized, but minus any true sense of independence when empowered.  When Charmed first came to television in 1998, it may have been a conventional show of the latter type, but it carried the unique feature of starring real-life bad girl Shannon Doherty.


Doherty was a big hit as the bad girl of another Aaron Spelling production, Beverly Hills 90210, where her behavior caused an uproar with just about the entire cast and her early departure.  She burned just about every bridge but the one with Spelling, and here she was, back as Prue.  She is one of three sisters who discover “that old black magic” has more of a hold on their family and its history and legacy than expected.  As joined by time-manipulator Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and the open-minded Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), the hour-long slotted episodes for the first hit season are as follows:


1)     Something Wicked This Way Comes

2)     I’ve Got You Under My Skin

3)     Thank You For Not Morphing

4)     Dead Man Dating

5)     Dream Sorcerer

6)     The Wedding From Hell

7)     The Fourth Sister

8)     The Truth Is Out There & It Hurts

9)     The Witch Is Back

10)  Wicca Envy

11)  Feats Of Clay

12)  The Wendigo

13)  From Fear To Eternity

14)  Secrets & Guys

15)  Is There A Woogy In The House?

16)  Which Prue Is It Anyway?

17)  That 70s Episode

18)  When Bad Warlocks Turn Good

19)  Out Of Sight

20)  The Power Of Two

21)  Love Hurts

22)  Déjà Vu All Over Again



Of course, the show became a target of the religious right for “glorifying black magic” and the like, but then I always liked how Spelling was able to tick of such overly moral stuffed shirts with ease.  He built his career on this (post-Honey West) and the reason his shows are hits is because they have enough of a in-the-know of what people like that his work is always written off far too easily as “trash TV” or some equivalent.  In reality, Spelling has had his finger on the pulse of suburban America and the rest of the country far longer than Steven Spielberg has and was always more daring and inclusive in casting his net for an audience.  There is a reason Charlie’s Angels, the more-daring-than-considered Dynasty and the superior Hart To Hart still endure.  It is not simply populism and some “lowest common denominator” than hundreds of TV hacks have far surpassed Spelling on his worst day on.  He understands the TV viewer better than just about anyone around.


In the case of Charmed, it eventually becomes a formula series that feels like a silly live-action version of one of many all-female Animé series (like many we have looked at here) or something out of an Archies Comic.  That it was done with a new generation and Doherty’s off-camera reputation was used as a priceless launching pad did not hurt.  The show does not hold up well to boot, especially with so many newer women of magic, super heroines (which this show plays the trio as to some extent), and stronger empowerments have arrived since then.  This was never cutting edge or as daring as earlier female figures of empowerment, including TV heroines like Jamie Sommers, Wonder Woman, Emma Peel, Catwoman and Honey West.  This is simply entertainment aimed at a younger female audience with some extra appeal to fans of magic and fantasy.


The full frame 1.33 X 1 image also has not aged well, though these transfers look as good as the series ever did on TV, but these shows were not shot with any memorable form or color schemes.  The source prints are in decent shape, so fans will be happy.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has good Pro Logic surrounds and is the highlight of the set, especially with the all six DVDs having absolutely no extras.  Charmed is not for everyone and I did not care for it anymore now than then, but it is a time capsule of sorts as some of the last dramatic fantasy TV before “reality TV” started to cut that out for good.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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