Instant Guide to...
Charmed
selected from
Cult Times #52
All you'll ever need to know!

Piper, Prue and Phoebe: Charming sisters, all of them... The Premise: Three sisters, Piper, Prue and Phoebe Halliwell, discover that they come from a long line of witches, and together are the Charmed ones; each with their own power making them an unbeatable combination against demons, warlocks and Woogymen.

Background: The series provided a sort of Buffy-lite for the WB schedules of 1998/9, and was popular enough to get a second season. It was created by Aaron Spelling, and has the drama of his Beverly Hills 90210, the central romance of his Hart to Hart, and the sheer exploitation of his Charlie’s Angels. So you know what to expect.

First Run: 7th October 1998.

Number of Episodes: Twenty-two episodes in Season One, with the same number intended for Season Two (which began showing in September 1999).

Good Guys: Prue is the repressed (well, as anyone gets in this hormone-soaked show) older sister, Piper is the sensible middle one, and Phoebe is the youngest: for whom the words kooky and slapper can be equally applied. The men are interchangeable Diet Coke dudes: Inspectors Trudeau and Morris provide police assistance, while special magical help comes from ‘white-lighter’ Leo (a kind of celestial Bosley).

Bad Guys: The Charmed doesn’t really go in for year-long villains, but Season One warlock Rex plotted in the background for 12 episodes before being mauled by his girlfriend, and Internal Affairs man Rodriguez had a rather nifty way with red eyeliner and trying to utterly kill the girls.

And Isn’t That... David Carradine sleep-walked his way through Déjà Vu All Over Again (maybe he thought they’d said ‘Kung Fu all over again’) as Time god Tempus. In The Power of Two, Brenda Bakke provided a villainess so hammy that it spoiled memories of American Gothic; this episode also featured Jeff Kober, who has had significant roles in Buffy and The X-Files. Finally, Finola Hughes turned up in That ’70s Episode as the girls’ mother, linking Charmed, Cats and Staying Alive.

Overdone Clichés: Every episode opening to a montage of San Francisco means this series requires a fast forward control. And in the traditional serial killer episodes, the clue to the villain’s identity is normally solved with the following question: “Who was the new boyfriend this week?”

Fashion Statements: The girls are always well dressed, though it should be noted that their names all begin with ‘P’, as does ‘pneumatic’ and ‘perky’. This is, of course, a coincidence.

Charming

Wicca Envy
Wicca Envy The girls fail to clear Prue from a burglary charge, but she is saved by an unexpected friend.

Morality Bites
Small events lead to big consequences, as the girls are given a harsh lesson in the misuse of their powers.

Dead Man Dating
A character-driven piece that gives Piper something to do for once, and manages to be touching and sweet without needing a bucket.

Charmless

Any of the serial-killer-of-the-week episodes, though a special sarcastic handclap for I’ve Got You Under My Skin’s villain who’s so wooden he isn’t so much defeated as cut down. The werewolf plot of The Wendigo is about as obvious as a whale sandwich, and almost as digestible.


Charmed (1999) UK Transmission details:

Living, Mondays. 20.30. See magazine for more details

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Ian Atkins

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Photo © Spelling TelevisionFeature © Visual Imagination 2000.
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