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Feature: Charmed

The Charm of Change

The many faces of Charmed

For six seasons, the Charmed Ones have been battling Evil and testing the limits of skimpy outfits... but what’s the secret of their success? We check out the series’ record and identifies its secret weapon – change…

Most TV shows tend to have an easily definable quality that keeps them on the air for years on end; whether it be Ally McBeal’s quirky fantasy sequences, Buffy and Angel’s comedic sensibilities, or even The West Wing’s talky corridor moments, there’s usually a certain specific trait that makes them stand out.

For seven years, Charmed has been renewed almost effortlessly; the main cast does precious few interviews, the show doesn’t get a vast amount of critical attention, yet it continues to do well. Short of more cast members deciding to leave (Rose McGowan having now equalled her predecessor Shannen Doherty’s time in the role), it could run forever. What are the reasons for its longevity, though?

Firstly, there’s the presence of Aaron Spelling as executive producer; here’s a man who’s been filling that position on many TV shows since way back in 1962, so you’d expect him to be able to spot a surefire hit by now. Coupled with that, would any TV exec want to be known as the man who cancelled a Spelling show?

Of course, it’s more than just a name on the credits, although it has to be pointed out that those of the three leads, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan, carry a certain cachet. It’s tempting to say at this point that one of the reasons the show is a big success is ‘Sex sells’. There have been countless instances of Alyssa Milano being strategically squeezed into outfits two sizes too small for her and while Holly Marie Combs tends to remain more covered, as befits an – albeit sexy – mother on screen and off, Rose McGowan has also had her share of revealing costumes. Of course, this isn’t a one-sided show; its target audience is all-inclusive, and there’s a large beefcake factor too, with an endless array of gorgeous hunks lined up to date the Charmed Ones or, indeed, cause trouble for them if they’re demons or warlocks. It does mean that sometimes the acting standard dips when someone has been cast for their six-pack rather than their ability to memorize words, but eye candy is very important to the show’s success.

Nothing as shallow as this could make Charmed last so long though, and a lot of respect has to be paid to its consistency. The production team on the show has changed little over the years, and there’s a particularly strong writing staff, most notably executive producer Brad Kern, who’s kept a steady hand on the rudder for most of its run..

by Paul Spragg

Get the full feature and much, much more on the series in
TV Zone Special #59

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Charmed © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone Special #59
Charmed 2004
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