Magic has fascinated people in just about every culture from the beginning of time. While young women called witches have been the subjects of brutal treatment over the years, the beautiful young witches depicted in this series seem to faire a little better.
As the sophomore season opens it has been one year since the Halliwell sisters, eldest Prue (Shannen Doherty), middle sister Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and youngest Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) has discovered their magical powers.
Prue can move things with her mind, Piper can freeze time and Phoebe can see the future, together they are the Charmed Ones, the most powerful good witches around. By invoking the power of three they can defeat most any demon from the underworld.
The sisters do not get a chance to celebrate their magical anniversary, a demon named Abraxas has stolen their all important spell book, the Book of Shadows, and he is undoing their spells one by one, naturally, they manager to vanquish the demon and restore good to the earth, at least until next week.
Aside from being witches the sisters are also otherwise normal young women. They want stability in their lives, love and happiness, something that is increasingly difficult considering their vocation and destiny.
Prue is the most sensible of the three, she holds down a job at an action house until about half way through the series when she quits pursuing other endeavors.
Piper loves to cook and has worked as a chief and a restaurant manager. He ability in the kitchen makes her a perfect choice to create the various potions the sisters use to kill demons, warlocks and other assorted bad guys.
Phoebe is the prototypical youngest, a bit on the flaky side, living for the moment. After a year of fighting for good she has begun to settle down some in this season and even goes back to college.
This series is not dependant on the magical elements to drive the plots. Most of the stories are concerned with the interpersonal relationship with the sisters Halliwell and the emotional drain keeping their secret from anyone that might become close to them.
There is also a growing romance between Piper and the sister’s white lighter, Leo (Brian Krause). He’s an angel sent by the mysterious Elders to guide and protect the good witches under his care. It turns out that this witch-white lighter relationship echoes one the girls discover about their mother who had an affair with her heavenly guide.
For fans of the series this will set up the required replacement later one in the series. As the girls are about to find love some hideous spawn of the underworld come around in dire need of killing. It kind of makes keeping a date frequently problematic.
Charmed: Season 2 frequently takes the sisters away from their normal confines of San Francisco. In one episode they go into a possible future only to find that Phoebe has been charged with witchcraft and has been sentenced to be burned at the stake, how retro. The sisters see their future lives and are gravely disappointed with how they have turned out.
Then there is the episode where Prue is brought into another dimension within a painting. She has to somehow get help from her sisters to get out and save an innocent trapped in there with her.
Even the movies offer no safe haven for the Charmed Ones, as a demon is able to use copy an old movie to attack the ladies. Time travel comes up again as Phoebe goes back to a previous life in the 1920’s where she was pure evil. They even get to meet the watery demon that killed their mother.
Charmed: Season 2 ranges far and wide but there are a lot of very humorous moments including the season finale where a Genie played to the hilt by Third Rock for the Sun’s French Stewart make a guest appearance.
One of the more dramatic episodes includes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who seem to run destruction, war, plague and the like from a top-notch corporate office.
A lot of exposition begins to come out in Charmed: Season 2, little insight into their grandmother and mother as well as the human life of Leo the white lighter.
Although all three of the main actresses on Charmed: Season 2 where in their mid twenties during season two they each had decades of experience behind them.
Alyssa Milano grew up on ‘Who’s the Boss’, Combs on ‘Picket Fences’ and, of course Doherty hit it big on 90210. Because of this Charmed: Season 2 has a far more polished look and feel than his relatively new actresses where used, these young women are seasoned veterans.
Milano often provides the comic relief that keeps Charmed: Season 2 from becoming too dark and sinister. She plays the kooky Phoebe without making a comic book character out of her. She plays Phoebe as a girl that grew up in the shadow of her older siblings, especially Prue, constantly being reminded that they where more responsible.
To Ms Milano’s credit as an actress you can see Phoebe grow up during Charmed: Season 2. Milano has Phoebe use the new status as a Charmed One as a new beginning with the formerly estranged Prue. Still, Phoebe is the only one without a proactive power and still finds herself looking at her sisters with a bit of envy.
Doherty is perfect as the somewhat controlling Prue. She is the ad hoc leader of the trio and as usual has to step up as the responsible one. Doherty portrays Prue as a person that harbors a lot of resentment for being the eldest, Phoebe got to go off and do her own thing while she had to stay behind and keep the house and family together.
In between the two Combs gives us a great performance as Piper. The way she plays the middle sister is the peacekeeper, the nurturing one who has to keep Prue and Phoebe, two extremes, from having it out with each other. Combs is sensitive in her portrayal, combing earth mother with a young woman that needs to find love.
In all the cast has excellent chemistry together and Charmed: Season 2 is better for it.
Paramount once again provides a plain vanilla box set for Charmed: Season 2. It is lacking any extras, a real shame considering there is a lot of behind the scenes details that would have been interesting.
The full screen video is typically clear and free of most defects and artifacts. The color palette is a little bit muted but accessible.
The Dolby 2.0 audio has a little better channel separation than some other Paramount television season sets. The bottom line is while Charmed: Season 2 is not a reference quality disc as far as the technical specifications goes it provides an entertainment value that makes Charmed: Season 2 a sure thing.
The quality of Charmed: Season 2 is enough to justify adding Charmed: Season 2 to your growing collection.
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