Charmed: Season 1

Charmed: Season 1

Charmed: Season 1 is a must have for the legion of fans out there and a perfect way for the novice to get to know the show

Charmed: Season 1

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There has always been a certain fascination with magic, the able to do seemingly miraculous things by the expression of will as focused through spells and incantations.

While many television shows have been dependant upon magic they where usually comedies like Bewitched or I Dream of Jeanie. One show that attempted to add a more dramatic edge to magic is Charmed. The first season of this show was largely expository in nature, letting the audience get used to the parameters of the world created for the series. Upon the death of her Grandmother and the loss of her job Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano) returns to San Francisco to life with her two older sisters Prue (Shannen Doherty) and Piper (Holly Marie Combs). Things where not on the best of terms when Phoebe left, as the youngest she was the one that was able to reject family responsibility and be a free spirit. Most of the resentment was vested in Prue, the oldest and the one that most of the responsibility of caring for their grandmother. Middle sister Piper is usually forced into the role of intermediate, the peacekeeper of the siblings. During the first night together in gran’s house the old disputes resurface and prompted by an old ouija board Phoebe retreats to the quiet of the attic. Once there she comes across an old book, the Book of Shadow. In the moonlight she can read that she and her sisters are witches, each with a special power and together they will form the Charmed Ones, the ultimate force to defend the innocent against the forces of evil. For the remainder of the pilot and most of the first season the girls discover the extent of their powers and have to put aside their differences to fight evil together. Prue has the ability to move objects with her mind, Piper can stop time (except for her self and her sisters) and Phoebe can foresee events in the future. Week after week some innocent or another is stalked for some nefarious reason by a demon, the girls consult the Book or ask the advice of their Whitelighter Leo (Brian Krause) an immortal guardian angle type, and the demons are vanquished.

The series does have a few things going for it. One is the world created is fairly internally consistent. The rules of this world allow for the existence of witches, warlocks and demons. Basically, it is the age old good versus evil scenario with the Charmed Ones as the only thing able to stop the worse of the evil doers. They even have some interesting touches to keep things interesting. The girls go back in time to visit the first of the Halliwell line that was a witch and had all three powers. They discover that the Book of Shadows is constantly growing, each generation adds spells and information, and that the Charmed Ones can also be part of this tradition. I always appreciated a series that paid attention to continuity, it just helps in suspending belief and something really needed for a series like this.

Naturally, the casting here was typical of many modern shows. It would seem that the world is populated completely by extremely beautiful women and buff men. For most television viewers we have watched Alyssa Milano grow up on the tube. Now, she is a vivacious and beautiful young woman. Milano has a natural wit and comic sense of timing, hone on ‘Who’s the Boss’. Much of the comic relief comes from her character as Phoebe learns not only to use her powers but also grows as a person. Holly Marie Combs is well placed as the middle sister Piper that learns that her love of cooking makes her the perfect one to devise the various required potions. She grew up on Picket Fences where she was able to master the skills required for an off beat series. Last, there is Shannen Doherty, yet another actress that grew up on a series, in this case 90210. There is enough chemistry between the actresses to pull off being sisters. The cycles of bickering and making up comes across as realistic, in a television series sense at least. Adding to the story lines of fighting evil is the sub plots concerning the evolving relationships between the girls. Phoebe is a bit jealous that she is the only sister without an ‘active’ power. Piper is the most reluctant of the three, wanting a normal life. As always caring financially for the group is Prue, even magic powers aren’t enough; she has to bring home the pay check. During this first season the actresses do a good job of adding dimension and emotional commitment to their characters.

Executive producer Aaron Spelling has an extremely impressive resume in the world of television. He has put on the air some of the most popular series ever. Many of his series, Charmed included, has a basic formula and the reason Spelling uses it so often is it works. Take a bunch of very attractive young people, give them wardrobe a size or two smaller than they should be and you have ratings. There is more to the Spelling magic than just puerile titillation; the man knows how to entertain an audience for an hour. The story lines hold together within the premise of the show, there is a very good mixture of episode, season and series length arcs, each woven into the story of the week. Spelling considers what the audience wants and endeavors to provide just that.

Paramount does a very good job with bring this series initial season to DVD. The audio is clear and dynamic, something especially important considering the popular music that is highlighted in each episode. While only in Dolby stereo it does give a full sound field that has excellent front channel separation. The full screen video accurately reflects the original television presentation. There are a few slight flecks apparent, not so many as to be annoying but over all acceptable. The color palette is good, nice contrast between light and dark with no breakup or graying of the blacks. This is a must have for the legion of fans out there and a perfect way for the novice to get to know the show.

Movie Review of Charmed: Season 1 by Doug MacLean of

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