So, right at the beginning of December, right before going on vacation, I stopped into the local HMV to look for deals on TV series on DVD, and picked up a few things. I bought “Wings”, the original “Beauty and the Beast”, and the original “Ghostbusters” soundtrack. I also managed to find two things that I had been looking for for ages: the “Top Gun” soundtrack … and, as should be evident from the title, the complete series of “Charmed”.
Now, Charmed was another one of those series that I had watched parts of out of most of the seasons of the entire series, but never really sat down and completely watched. I remembered it fondly, but couldn’t find a good deal on it anywhere, or at least one where the comments didn’t say “The glue might run and ruin it so you might have to send it back”. So seeing it there for a reasonable price — about $1 an hour of entertainment if I only watched it once — made me decide that, yeah, I should get it. And I started watching it.
So what do I think of it?
As the TV Tropes page says — and I’ll spare you the link to it — the first couple of seasons were much more melodramatic. I myself thought of them as more “soap operaish”, focusing on personal drama and relationship drama and less on the details of the warlocks and demons. To be honest, it had all of the melodrama and angst of the later Buffy seasons, only more so, which could grate at times. But once they started getting into the more serious supernatural arcs, it definitely improved, even if the themes mostly stayed the same … and migrated from character to character. For example, at the end of season four the Charmed Ones get a choice of changing their destiny and deciding whether to keep their powers or live a normal life. Piper from the start railed against not having a normal life, Phoebe always thought that the powers were the most wonderful things in the world, and the new witch Paige was just entering into it. It made sense that Paige would take over the “enthusiastic” part, since she had mostly experienced the excitement and power and less of the downsides of constantly being attacked. But the person who was most adamant that they should give up their powers was … Phoebe? And Piper was the swing vote, at least initially? Sure, you can argue that as the eldest sister (now) she wasn’t comfortable arguing that aggressively … except that she didn’t have any problem doing it, oh, for the rest of the season or even the rest of the episode. It would have worked best — even given the roles of the sisters — for Piper to push for returning to a normal life, Paige for keeping them, and Phoebe being torn: remembering how much she loved the powers but also noting how much heartache not being normal has caused everyone. And it would even have made it better that, if I recall correctly, she was the one who suggested looking further into the “witch hunter”, and then her line at the end that helping someone made her feel good, while keeping Piper’s line of making it unanimous while outvoted still make as much if not more sense. About the only thing it doesn’t do is allow for Piper to be just going along with what the others wanted the whole time … but as the swing vote she wasn’t doing that anyway. At best, she was going along with whatever Phoebe wanted, which if built upon would be creating a rift for later between her and Paige, which is not really what they’d want at this point after taking the entire season healing that rift.
That being said, I think it does mostly avoid “Aesop Amnesia”, mostly because the structure of the story, at least through Season 4, is such that they don’t really learn an aesop, but instead accept things. That, for example, Piper would accept that her life is not going to be normal but continue to have the desire for a normal life isn’t really “Aesop Amnesia”, but more reflects her frustrations boiling over at not being able to have what she really wants while understanding that there’s a higher purpose that she has to put first.
All of the main actresses are attractive and the show, to be honest, really wants to highlight that, which I don’t particularly mind. I’d classify it, so far, as a smarter and deeper supernatural “Charlie’s Angels”: Attractive people doing attractive things with a plot that lets them do the attractive things and keep your attention when the attractive things aren’t as prominent, except that the plots and characters are better and build on arcs. In a sense, it fits between a show like “Charlie’s Angels” and a show like “Buffy/Angel”: the plot details and characters are more detailed and can stand on their own more than the former, but it still has fanservice as more of the main appeal than the latter as the plots aren’t that strong. But it’s still entertaining.