Charmed Season 1 Episode 1 – TV Review
And no, I’m not going to harp on with “b-b-b-but the original.”
Because since when is Charmed fucking sacred?
TL;DR A very pilot-y pilot episode that errs too bland and too safe, but is thankfully inoffensive as a result. The three leads are yet to show much personality, but if the show leans into the #MeToo side as much as this episode could suggest, then I think it could be something special. If fleeting.
Hey, Supergirl is also on The CW and has gotten its best mileage out of being loudly feminist and political. It could work.
So I will preface this by saying that I actually did see the pilot of the original Charmed when it first aired back in the day. But all I remember about it was that it was raining in the episode at some point, and the house confused me. In this Charmed, we start with sisters Maggie and Mel, and their mum played by Valerie Cruz. Valerie quickly dies under mysterious circumstances, and we get a quick cut to three months later. Maggie, the younger sister, is rushing a sorority, while Mel is a gay/bisexual #MeToo activist protesting an accused professor on campus. Also coming in to complete the Power of Three is Macy, the oldest sister but who was separated from Valerie as a child or something. Who cares? Thankfully, a cheery, flirty Brit named Harry announces himself as the trio’s Whitelighter and tells them they’re witches. They can choose to accept their destiny, or go back to being ordinary. And he also reveals Valerie was murdered. So it’s up to the girls to seek out the murderer demon, and determine their fate. They do battle with a demon in the body of Maggie’s on/off boyfriend, but then it turns out another demon is inside the handsy professor. The girls accept their destiny and use their combined power to obliterate him, but he does concede on the way out that he wasn’t Valerie’s murderer. The episode ends as the girls use a Ouija board to contact their mum, but the board warns them not to trust Harry.
So I’m not going to judge this episode too harshly. It’s got classic pilot syndrome, so I’ll give Charmed a few more episodes to emerge as its true self before I get properly critical.
But it better hurry the fuck up.
Why I hate this episode:
On the chance that this isn’t simply pilot syndrome, can you imagine if the show really is this watered down? Yikes.
The two main problems are the pacing and the characters. This episode gets a lot done. We have to establish the situation, give everyone a brief intro, kill Valerie, then have Harry deliver the Charmed One exposition, fight two separate demons, deal with the sorority girls and Mel’s girlfriend, have each of them discover their powers, and then try to stick the landing with the “don’t trust Harry” shocker. It’s a lot of work, and we don’t get to know any of the three leads at all. Again, here’s hoping it’s just because it’s the pilot.
Of the three, Mel gives the strongest impression, and it’s not a favourable one. While the show itself seems to tackle feminism with a refreshing lightness, Mel is a classic Feminazi, down to the admonishing of Maggie because she wants to join a sorority. Mel better pull that basic bullshit in.
If the show is going to be campy and fun, then I will definitely need some more fashion. The outfits this episode, like the episode itself, are bland as hell. The hair’s good, though.
Harry’s teleportation animation looks like a knock-off of how the portkey teleportation from Harry Potter looks. I’m gonna use up my one Remake Whinge Card here, because what was wrong with the blue orbing animation?
Oh, and Harry can teleport, hear your call from any distance, and can heal fatal injuries. So minus Mel’s time freezing, he’s more powerful than them, no?
But it’s not all bad:
Harry is a delight. And I suspect the ending is just a misunderstanding or something, so I reckon he’ll be sticking around as the girls’ guide. He’s just too much fun to have turn into a villain.
Fun seems to be Charmed’s best weapon so far. The effects aren’t much; as discussed there is no fashion; and the Chosen One story outline isn’t very original. But even among the mum-murdering, this episode turns out to be super fun.
The best moment to demonstrate this is when the handsy professor reveals himself as the ice demon. A male student who had earlier argued with Mel is present when this happens and the demon impales the guy with an icicle. The girls all gasp in horror, and the ice demon picks up a brilliant best line of the episode: “Oh, come on, girls. He was awful.” Even the accused sexual harasser-turned ice demon can’t stand a cisgender, straight, white male. I laughed.
Harry heals him, by the way. So it’s still fun.
Natalie Hall shows up as the head sorority girl Maggie interacts with. She’s a fun red herring for the demon. I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of her.
I’m sad Valerie Cruz got offed so early. But there’s always room for flashbacks, right?
Mel discovers that she can control her powers best when she’s not angry. Which I will choose to take as a dig at her angry Feminazi bullshit.
Macy is the one with telekinesis, but she seems the most pacifistic of the three. So I’m curious as to how she’ll fare in future battles.
Maggie is stuck with lousy telepathy/being an empath. But maybe we’ll get lucky like we did with Phoebe and they’ll give her some wacky other powers later on.
Oh, and the CW seems to be shelling out for CGI for the monsters so far. I have no faith that they’ll be able to keep that up, and I am very keen to see some crummy rubber suits and facial prosthetics as things progress.