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Episode listing -

Something Wicca This Way Comes
I've Got You Under My Skin
Thank You For Not Morphing
Dead Man Dating
Dream Sorcerer
The Wedding From Hell
The Fourth Sister
The Truth Is Out There... And It Hurts
The Witch Is Back
Wicca Envy
Feats Of Clay
The Wendigo
Fear To Eternity
Secrets And Guys
Is There A Woogy In The House?
Which Prue Is It, Anyway?
That '70s Episode
When Bad Warlocks Go Good
Out Of Sight
The Power Of Two
Love Hurts
Deja Vu All Over Again

Charmed: season one

cast: Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty, and Alyssa Milano

creator: Constance M. Burge

972 minutes (12) 1998
Paramount DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Martin Drury
The premise of Charmed is simple. Three attractive women live in a slightly odd looking house in an affluent area of America. These young women are the Halliwell sisters. Prue, Phoebe and Piper. The Halliwells hide a secret that stretches back through generation after generation of their family, forming the roots of their family tree. The Halliwell sisters are witches. Prue, Phoebe and Piper are the 'Charmed Ones', gifted with the 'power of three' and tasked with protecting humanity from the interference and influence of a menagerie of evil warlocks, demons and boyfriends behaving as jerks.

The premise of the series is preposterous and the Halliwell sisters are perpetually clad in glamour-queen outfits despite apparently living fairly normal lives. Yet, for some reason, none of that matters. The first season is the weakest as it is responsible for establishing characters, relationships and situations. It's also got Shannen Doherty in it. Prue is the weakest link in the Halliwell sister line-up and Doherty's portrayal of the wiccan matriarch as a frustrated beauty queen masquerading as a mother-hen causes amusement in place of amazement. The show is built on magic. Doherty's performance was constructed through ennui.

The season is presented well on DVD with picture and sound quality both punching above their weight. The subtitles, menus and episode dialogue can all be presented to the viewer in a variety of different languages (through selection from the main disc menu). Episode selection is simple and there's the traditional option to play all. The working relationship between Combs, Milano and Doherty was not exactly amicable throughout the recording of the first series of Charmed and as such tensions can be detected in the performances, which distract from the introduction to the weird world of the sisters and their battles against evil.

Charmed comes into its own only when Rose McGowan joins the cast as Paige and that's not for many seasons beyond season one. The love triangles and romance stories involving the Halliwell sisters are rarely accessible for a male audience to engage with and ironically the only time the show introduces a strong male character, he turns out to be the source of all wickedness. The 'good guys' look like lapdogs and most of the male characters in the first few seasons of Charmed had impossibly chiselled chins and trademarked haircuts.

Charmed attempted to cross many boundaries in its first season, particularly as far as television genres were concerned. The inclusion of the police Inspector 'Andy' as an ally for the Charmed Ones as they go about solving 'otherworldly crimes' forced the show onto NYPD Blue territory, bringing about an uncomfortable and unintentional parody of American cop shows. For the most part, the performances of the actresses are above par but the writing is often cliché ridden. Sometimes, it's as if someone bought all the 'teen wicca' books in the shop, gouged them and threw the words back into a script for Charmed season one. If you're a fan, then you've already got season two on pre-order and nobody can talk you out of it. If you're a casual viewer, tune to Channel 5 or Living TV instead as you'll most likely see most of the episodes on this release repeated ad nausea. Wait for the McGowan factor before you invest in the lives of these three troubled witches.

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