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Feature: Charmed

The Wicca Man

The Charmed ones

Mermaids, fairy-tales, comic book heroes and Time travel. Sounds like it’s business as usual for the Charmed Ones in Season Five. Executive producer Brad Kern recently spoke about departing stars, returning demons and notching up the century…

Season Five opened with a two-hour story about unrequited love called A Witch’s Tail. Our heroines come to the aid of Mylie (Jaime Pressly), a Mermaid-turned-Human, when she tries to back out of a deal she made with a sea hag (Diane Salinger). In the process, Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) is transformed into a Mermaid and finds swimming with the fishes preferable to life on dry land.

“Our plan was to start things off with a bang and make a big splash, no pun intended, because we knew how important the fifth season was,” explains executive producer Brad Kern. “We were very excited about the stories we already had in the works and wanted to let the audience know that we were back, stronger than ever. The WB Network was interested in us doing a two-hour première, so we basically said to them, ‘OK, how about if we put Alyssa Milano in a Mermaid outfit and throw her in the water. What do you think of that?’ Well, they loved the idea.

“With everyone in agreement, we wrote the script but then a week before we started to prep the show, Alyssa called me to say she was afraid of the water. After I hung up the phone, and once my heart started beating again, I went back through the script and then talked at length with [director] Jim Conway. He and I figured out ways to film the episode without Alyssa having to deal too much with being underwater. To her great credit, she jumped in the water and did an awful lot of swimming, much more, I think, than she wanted to. Thanks to Alyssa’s courage to deal with her fear and our clever film making techniques, no one ever realized that she even remotely had an aversion to the ocean. So it turned out to be a very successful episode.”

The Charmed Ones take a page from The Brothers Grimm when an evil witch (Natalija Nogulich) plots to use fairy-tales to destroy them in Happily Ever After. “This episode is a special one for me,” says Kern. “We’d been trying to do a fairy tale story since the first season of Charmed, but could never figure out quite how to do it. My joke was, ‘How do we pull something like this off without stepping on every legal toe the Disney people have?’ We actually did a great deal of research into fairy-tales, specifically what the Grimm Brothers did prior to Disney.”

Kern laughs out loud when recalling his original idea of how to use the seven dwarfs. “It was at the very beginning of writing the script. I walked into the story room and said to the writers, ‘I have no clue what this episode is about yet or what the girls will be doing in it. What I do know is that at a certain point in the episode, the doorbell is going to ring, Leo [Brian Krause] will open the door, and seven dwarfs are going to be standing on the porch.’ When I watched the actual moment in the episode I smiled because it was my very first thought for the story. Oh, just so you know, we’re not done with the ‘little people’ yet. Wait until you see Episode 17…

by Steven Eramo

More from Bard Kern,
and Charmed director James L Conway, in
TV Zone #159

Photos © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #159, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #159
February 2003
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