Charmed Retro Review

Retro Review – Charmed

"The world better start showing me some respect. Otherwise, I'm going to stop saving it every week."

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Charmed is one of my favorite shows of all time. While it was often extremely flawed, routinely criticized, and never really given its due, I never stopped loving it. That’s mainly because at its heart, the show wasn’t really about witches or magic, but a genuine heartfelt bond between siblings. That charm (pardon the pun) permeated throughout the entire show’s run, and always drew me back even when the plotting and special effects dwindled. As its quality waned, Charmed never ceased to sustain a feel-good vibe that few shows could replicate.

Season 1
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The introductory year is a good one. Of course the effects were cheap and some episodes were plain atrocious, but the heart was all there. The season set the show’s unique foundation and the casting of the sisters (Shannen Doherty, Alyssa Milano, and Holly Marie Combs) proved to be a definite win. Even when the standalone plots and demons-of-the-week suffered, the ladies were always there to reel us back in. All in all, it was a promising opening that did a good job of gradually ironing out the kinks.
Favorite Episode – Deja Vu All Over Again
The season one finale is an incredible episode with a tragically beautiful ending. A perfect capper to the year.
Honorable Mentions: The Wendigo, Is There A Woogy In The House?, That 70’s Episode.
Nad Rating
B+

Season 2
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Another well-executed season. Of course there were the usual bad episodes sprinkled throughout but the sisters were always uniformly excellent. However, Piper’s love triangle went on a bit long (punctuated by Brian Krause’s irritating performance as Leo). Still, this was an enjoyable year with a number of standouts.
Favorite Episode – Morality Bites
A truly superb hour that showcased just how creative (and dark) Charmed could get. One of the most remarkable episodes the show ever produced.
Honorable Mentions: Awakened, Chick Flick, Apocalypse Not.
Nad Rating
B

Season 3
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The beginning of Charmed‘s greatness. Although this season started out with a horrible string of cheesy episodes, it soon evolved into thrilling, dark television with a gripping mythology. The writing became tighter, and the show’s world more immersive than ever. Furthermore, Cole and Phoebe were an awesome couple and rightfully assumed their place as the show’s most iconic couple. Their story-arc was immaculately handled until it ultimately got butchered in season five.
Favorite Episode – All Hell Breaks Loose
As every fan will attest to, this is the single best episode Charmed ever produced. Piper’s shooting and Prue’s subsequent attack of innocents will always be some of my favorite scenes of any show ever. All in all, a spectacular piece of television and the show’s defining hour.
Honorable Mentions: Sight Unseen, Primrose Empath, Power Outage, Bride & Gloom, Death Takes A Halliwell, Pre-Witched, Sin Francisco.
Nad Rating
A

Season 4
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My favorite season. Although I preferred Prue to Paige (Rose McGowan’s acting became particularly annoying in latter years), I always thought season four was the peak of Charmed‘s storytelling. They managed to tell a stunningly haunting arc that spanned pretty much the whole season and gave us a ton of excellent cliffhangers. It’s a shame they didn’t continue with the darkness through the next four years because that era gave us a lot of crap. Nevertheless, season four was marvelous. Mourning Prue, introducing Paige, The Source, Cole, The Seer, Dark Weddings, Evil Phoebe – the highlights are far too numerous to count! However, I never understood why the season concluded in the penultimate episode and the finale was so disconnected. Nevertheless, Charmed‘s strongest season and proof that the show could be great television when all its elements were on point.
Favorite Episode – Charmed & Dangerous
Extraordinary. I’ve always loved The Source attacking the ladies at their home so this hour is a personal favorite of mine and the closest the show ever got to rivaling the quality of season three’s finale.
Honorable Mentions: Charmed Again, Hell Hath No Fury, Brain Drain, Marry-Go-Round, The Fifth Halliwell,  Bite Me, Long Live The Queen, Womb Raider.
Nad Rating
A+

Season 5
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What a difference a year makes. Season five was a tad too light for me (particularly when contrasted with season four). Nonetheless, if you accept it, it’s definitely an amusing diversion although it fundamentally altered what the show was about. Piper’s pregnancy was fun although the influx of leprechauns and stupid magic creatures took a lot (and I can not stress this enough) from the show. The finale (Oh My Goddess) was a particular embarrassment amidst the plethora of cheesiness.
Favorite Episode – The Day The Magic Died
Charming, amusing and utterly magical. This episode never fails to put me in a cozy mood. I love it.
Honorable Mentions: Happily Ever After, Siren Song, The Eyes Have It, Sympathy For The Demon, The Importance Of Being Phoebe, Centennial Charmed, Sense And Sense Ability.
Nad Rating
B+

Season 6
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I never liked Chris. Drew Fuller had zero acting talent so he really ruined the season for me. And while there were some good episodes here and there, this season is not a good representation of Charmed. I was however impressed by the finale’s intriguing alternate world (and the evil Charmed trio). The less said about Piper and Leo’s dramas however, the better.
Favorite Episode – Witch Wars
Not many people remember this episode but I love the premise of a reality show based on the magical community. Highly memorable and thoroughly enjoyable.
Honorable Mentions: Forget Me Not, The Power Of Three Blondes, My Three Witches, I Dream Of Phoebe.
Nad Rating
C

Season 7
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This year had potential, but I don’t think it ever fully tapped into it. The Avatar storyline should have been astounding, but something about its execution felt terribly off. In addition, Phoebe’s numerous love interests became utterly tiresome, while Rose McGowan’s acting hit rock-bottom (relentless mugging). Thankfully, the year did have several strong standalone hours that kept me invested throughout. And while I did enjoy the finale (Something Wicca This Way Goes), I’m thankful it wasn’t the series ender because it wouldn’t have been very satisfying.
Favorite Episode -Witchness Protection
Charisma Carpenter should have joined the cast permanently as far as I’m concerned because this was a killer episode with a heartbreaking ending. A definite stunner.
Honorable Mentions: Charrrmed!, Once In A Blue Moon, Extreme Makeover: World Edition, Charmageddon, Scry Hard, Little Box Of Horrors, Freaky Phoebe, Death Becomes Them, Something Wicca This Way Goes.
Nad Rating
B

Season 8
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It’s sad but Charmed‘s final season is its worst. On paper, the season should have been incredible with two sets of sisters going at it in the most epic battle of all time. However Brad Kern (a truly terrible show-runner) completely robbed the concept of its potential. The introduction of Billie played by the horrendous Kaley Cuocu turned the show into a downright embarrassing affair. But the most irritating aspect of all was the utter and total annihilation of Phoebe Halliwell. The middle sister became obsessed with finding a man (and a baby), and that intense desire felt like a slap in the face to the show’s premise. It was tragically pathetic to watch the show’s coolest badass rendered into nothing more than a lifeless vase who contributed nothing as a witch (no powers, no fight scenes) or as a character (pregnancy cementing itself as her only purpose). As for the series finale (Forever Charmed), it was a weak and supremely anticlimactic hour that was saved by an admittedly perfect final scene (thus ending the show on a positive note, much like Alias). That’s an impressive feat considering the disastrous excuse of a season at the center of it all.
Favorite Episode – Kill Billie Vol.2
The only exciting part of season eight – while it should have been even better, the penultimate episode still had some thrilling set pieces (a rarity this year).
Honorable Mentions: Desperate Housewitches, Repo Manor, Forever Charmed.
Nad Rating
D

Conclusion
In the end, Charmed is a show that will always have a special place in my heart. It might not have been thought-provoking television, but it often excelled within its own special bubble. And even throughout its weakest seasons (and they were plenty the last few years), I always cherished spending time with my favorite witches and their magical world. And simply for that, it deserves a hell of a lot of praise.

Overall Nad Rating
A

15 comments

  1. Great review, I really enjoyed it =)

    Ok, so I agree with everything you've said about seasons 1 -4, except I quite liked the start to the third season as well as the rest of it, but I think I'm alone in that! Season 5 had it's moments and wasn't as terrible as some make it out to be. Season 6 was a bit messy, and I'll be elaborating on a lot of that in my own reviews soon, but it had a lot of good stuff hidden in there. The Avatar arc was quite disappointing in some ways, but surprisingly intelligent in others, and I agree about SWTWG, it would have been a majorly sucky ending; so rushed. As for season 8, well I think I speak for 99% of fans when I say it was the WORST, but there were one or two moments of greatness in there too, and I completely agree about Phoebe during the season too, she basically ran around begging to get laid, it was annoying!

    Good episode choices too, except for one (ahem, Witch Wars …!) I'm looking forward to some episode reviews in the future!

  2. Hey Panda. Always nice to read your thoughts.
    Haha I knew With Wars would be a shock. But I really can't remember individual amazing episodes from season 6. Just nice moments. Perhaps the finale was the best ep of the season? What do you think?
    Oooh actually I think I know what my favorite is. “The Power Of Three Blondes.” It was just the kind of amusing, light episodes that Charmed actually did well!
    Oh and btw I can't I forgot to mention that Billie was a BIG reason I hated season 8. One of the worst TV characters ever played by a truly miscast actress!

  3. LEAVE BILLIE ALONE! I was always behind her when it aired, and still am now. She wasn't half as bad as people say she was, and as for the casting I think Kaley was perfectly fine, not amazing, but still did what was asked. I'm glad you liked TPOTB, I'm always alone in my love for it! The season finale is also great too.

  4. Dude what the hell are u doing to me! I promised myself i wouldn't waste studying time on commenting!
    I just wanted to say that the directing of All Hell Breaks Loose by Shannen Doherty was pitch-perfect. She really went out with a Bang. My all-time favorite episode.
    As for Charmed and Dangerous, it has one of the best cold-opens in charmed history. That and Forget me Not.
    Ok that's it, i'm outta here.

  5. Agreed. What a brilliant piece of television (All Hell Breaks Loose). I wish Charmed was always serious like the episodes you mentioned! It really could do great gripping television when it wanted to!

  6. Wonderful reviews! I'm so glad to find someone else who appreciated Charmed! Though I'm always shocked how I seem to be the only person who ranks season 6 as their fave. I freaking loved the craziness I'd “Chris Crossed” all the way through to the end of that season.

  7. Okay. I am in total agreement about “All Hell Breaks Loose” as the best episode ever, and the fact that Shannen Doherty directed it says a lot for her talent. My second favorite (a close second) is “Long Live the Queen,” where Cole is vanquished for the first time. Overall however, I think Rose McGowan was a good choice and that the show became stronger after Doherty left. Prue overpowered the show as the older sister and the strongest witch. It was very interesting to see Piper and Phoebe forced “step up” and become really bad asses. Prue's dying forced them to develop that “eye of the tiger.”

  8. Thanks for commenting Martin 🙂 Very interesting what you mentioned about PRue overpowering the rest. I never thought of it like that and you're right that made Piper and Phoebe really come into their own! However the show did have tons of weaker hours later on with the fairytale stuff which is unforutunate! Still I miss it so much!

  9. Hey Nadim. I don't disagree that the show had some weak episodes, pre and post Prue. However, I didn't mind the fairytale episodes at all. Anyway, thanks for putting together such a fun and thoughtful blog.

  10. I'm cool with Prue's character death but atleast the show could have given the closure of the character''s death. I knew the circumstances why dorherty departed but they should have gave the fans more closure, especially on the finale, it's like she never existed in any family picture montages yet verbally mentioned. …end rant

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