Monday, September 28, 2015


I watched seasons 1-8 of Charmed for the first time recently.  I've wanted to watch it for years but only ever caught the odd episode on telly.  Breastfeeding does have it's perks as it gives you the time to rocket through telly shows.

I very much enjoyed Charmed.  Seasons 1-4 were best, then it seemed to glamourise itself.  The sister's wardrobes suddenly went high fashion.  I quote enjoyed the high street, everyday clothes they had before.  Phoebe used to dress like a hippy, then at about season 5 she suddenly looked all office smart and high end sexy.  The new wardrobes took away part of the sister's personality.  Seasons 1-3 showed you the difference in Prue's, Piper's and Phoebe's characters through their clothes.  By Season 5 Piper, Phoebe and Paige looked like every other high fashion female character on a popular telly show.  It was disappointing.  It was also odd because the wardrobe was the only thing that got more expensive.  The special effects stayed the same throughout, and oh boy they were cheap.  Cheaper than the worst of Buffy's special effects.

Some other things irritated me.  When Paige was first introduced (season 4) Rose McGowan was a pretty wooden actor.  She got better, but then started really hamming it up, she was sort of caricaturing herself.  I never really cared for Prue, so was happy to have her replaced by Paige.  I didn't really see the bonding process between Paige, Piper and Phoebe.  They seemed to be thrown together just because the plot demanded it.  Mind you, this could have been because I was losing interest and was only half watching some episodes.

There was a two or three season theme where Phoebe and her love interest Cole, a demon, then a reformed demon, then an ex demon, then a demon again, then the ultimate evil, then possibly reformed and then evil again (maybe) were together and then not, mostly because of his demon status.  The season that introduced Cole and their relationship did it well, but all their future arcs were utterly boring.

Similarly Piper and Leo's on again/off again, married/split up story arcs irked me.  This idea was repeated far too often and simply became dull.  When they were first flirting and got together it was great.  Season 8's plots of freezing him to drive the sisters to action also worked well.  In between I lost all interest.

There were a lot of themed episodes - evil versions of themselves, body swaps, de-aging episodes, noir episodes, a battle of the sexes, a superhero episode.  It got a bit gimmicky and I couldn't help thinking that Buffy did themed episodes better.  And Smallville now I come to think of it.

Phoebe started off the series really fun and optimistic and the heart of the sisters.  Piper was always grumpy, Prue seemed above it all and Paige was a bit of comic relief.  Around about season 5 Phoebe got really serious and combined with her terrible romantic plotlines, she got really boring.  Towards the end of Season 6 and in season 7 she got fun again.

The season 7 finale felt like it was creating a new status quo, the sisters has faked their own deaths and anything was possible.  By mid season 8 they'd reappeared to the world, but it was interesting getting there.  Since seasons 5 and 6 felt stagnant, this was a welcome improvement.

I never really bought the power of the sisters or the threat of the demons.  No one seemed particularly scary and the threats didn't seem that impressive.  Especially when I compare them to other supernatural/fantasy shows, like Buffy and Smallville.

What was really good about it was the themes of sisterhood and female solidarity, especially at the start.  The three most powerful people in the supernatural world were the Charmed ones, the sisters.  The threats against them and innocents came from warlocks, who for a while seemed to only ever be men.  This idea seemed really powerful.  As the series progressed it became less clear cut but it was still there.  Unfortunately it got undermined by introducing evil women who were always dressed in sultry makeup and very skimpy costumes.  Enough with equating sexiness with evil.  One other thing undermined the female power themes and that was a sudden change to dress Phoebe in the 'slutty' clothes certain episodes required.  It was always Phoebe and it was always done to show some flesh for ogling reasons.  I imagine the show's main audience demographic was straight women so this decision makes no sense.

But on the whole I enjoyed the series and will keep the discs to dip in and out of in future,

Now I am watching Arrow season two (far better than season one), to be followed by season three and Constantine.  All over the next month before my Amazon Prime membership runs out,  Then I shall watch the Flash.  Then I reckon it will be time for a netflix subscription and more superhero telly shows.

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