Thoughts After Rewatching “Charmed”

So, I just finished rewatching the entire series of “Charmed” — the original one, since there was a reboot — and some things stood out to me about it while doing so.

First, it really struck me that the character of Paige was uneven throughout her run, as she was brought in as a replacement for Prue when Shannen Doherty left. It really seemed like the writers didn’t really know what to do with her, which left the character as someone who … didn’t really know what she was doing or wanted to do. But they didn’t even really pull off a “trying to find her place in life” arc with her, even though they tried that arc specifically a couple of times. So she ended up being a not particularly well-developed character. On the other hand, Rose McGowan looked very good during her run on the show and so I guess that will have to do.

Second, Alyssa Milano very often came across as incredibly childish, especially sometimes in how she phrased things. She often talked like a child would, and not when she was talking to children, but in situations where she really should have been talking like an adult. I suspect that when they placed her in the “baby of the family” role they tried to write or direct some of those things in to show that, but Phoebe’s character had been established as more of the rebel than the “Daddy’s/Mommy’s/Grams’ girl” that would justify that. It would have fit better with Piper, at least before Prue died, as Piper had more of the concerns that a child would have: keeping everyone together, avoiding conflict, and so on.

Which leads me to the change in Piper’s personality, who started out as shy and retiring and conflict-averse and ended up really snarky. I was reminded, this time, of JMS’ favourite joke about someone dealing with a lot of repressed anger and resolving it by not repressing the anger anymore. To be fair, the actress herself was pretty snarky and so it probably seemed like a good way to fit her into the new role of being the eldest. However, it needed to be handled properly, and when it wasn’t it made Piper really, really annoying. It worked best when the snark was more a wry comment on the things that were happening and not directed at anyone in particular. When she snarked at Leo and her sisters and other people it often came across as her being overly harsh and unfair and, well, there’s no better word for this, bitchy. At times, it made me dislike her and she was always my favourite character on the show. But when she was more caring and snarking more at the oddities of their situation she really did work the best out of all the characters.

But the biggest thing that struck me during this rewatch was this: I really, really enjoyed watching it. When I had watched it before, I criticized the writing and some of the ideas, and I think those problems are still there, but ultimately none of them stood out or bothered me at all this time. And there doesn’t seem to be anything in the show that rewatching it would make better. There aren’t subtle plotlines to discover on a rewatch, or subtle character interactions, or anything like that. About the only thing that was improved by rewatching the show was that when you know Chris’ deal from the start he becomes slightly less annoying. But I didn’t really find myself coming up with new insights while watching it. I just really enjoyed it.

I suspect that this is for two reasons. The first is that I didn’t have any intention to commenting on it or doing anything like that to it. I was just rewatching it because I wanted to. That let me turn my brain off and just enjoy what it was giving me. The second reason is that I was coming off of a string of shows that were at best mediocre, in Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Doom Patrol and Remington Steele. Compared to those shows, “Charmed” is just plain entertaining. I found far less annoyances than I did with those shows and so it was just better by comparison. The first time I watched it, in contrast, it was around the same time as the similar “Friday the 13th: The Series” which made its writing flaws more evident by comparison, whereas here by comparison its writing flaws were less egregious. Ultimately, it was just nice to watch a show that, for its flaws, was nonetheless pretty entertaining.

Up next, rewatching a much better show in Babylon 5. And I have to comment here that having watched the first couple of episodes the trend seems to be continuing: I was blown away by “Midnight on the Firing Line” and even found “Soul Hunter” — which I am generally ambivalent towards — remarkably entertaining by comparison.

2 Responses to “Thoughts After Rewatching “Charmed””

  1. Thoughts on “John Woo’s Once a Thief” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] Mac is played by the Ivan Sergei who has done a number of small roles (including a recurring one on “Charmed”), while Nicholas Lea plays Vic (and is probably best known as Krycek on X-Files). They both manage […]

  2. Thoughts on “Lord of the Rings” (the books) | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] so coming from those books it seemed like a breath of fresh air.  The same thing happened to me while rewatching “Charmed”, where watching it after a number of mediocre shows made me able to accept it for what it was and […]

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