The ‘Charmed’ Reboot: Are the New Charmed Ones Strong Enough to Survive?

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CHARMED: 1.01 “Pilot”

I was a fan of the old Charmed. I watched it from the start, stuck through it in the middle years (even years when Cole had long outlived his usefulness), watched the first finale, and then moved on to the next. In fact, Charmed was one of those shows I was writing about before I officially started this blog. So when I heard that they were rebooting it with new characters and a semi-new premise, I wasn’t too excited. Did we really need another version?

To be fair, I ask this about a lot of reboots and revivals (and the Gilmore Girls revival has taught me to be cautious, even if I am excited), but especially for Charmed, I was just left wondering what was left to say, what there was left to do, and why we couldn’t just have an original show about witches with new characters and new plot points. I guess, some would argue, the CW tried that with The Secret Circle, and we live in a nostalgia world. That doesn’t quite convince me, but…

Nonetheless, I wanted to see how this show holds up—not just in comparison to the original, but also on its own merit.

My first thought? The girls are too young. This isn’t just because the original had three witches who were in careers (or in the case of Phoebe, between them) and had to balance witchcraft with their real-world responsibilities. Yes, that appealed to me—and it’s probably why I felt the most interesting character in last night’s premiere was the oldest sister, Macy. But even if you push the original out of view, there’s something trivial about hearing someone dealing with demon dogs and her mother’s death…all while worrying, “What about rush?” I can’t really take her seriously, especially since, really, what was holding her back from accepting her birthright as a witch was…pledging a sorority. (This is not to mean that I’m insulting sororities. But when you look at it in comparison to the dark forces at work, it seems less important.)

What’s more, none of these characters have any personality. Macy is the closest, as she tries to research her past and comes to every witch-related problem with a scientific approach (actually, this one element is what makes the show intriguing to me, as nerdy as it is). But Mel and Maggie are blank slates. Other than her need to be part of the sorority, I know nothing about Maggie. Mel is “angry all the time.” That seems to be her main defining quality, which doesn’t draw you in as a viewer or makes her all that likable. She does take a hard stand on polarizing issues, but that’s about it. There’s really nothing more that can be said about these girls.

And that, to me, is the real weakness of the show on its own. Without strong characters, what is there to watch? A demon dog that we didn’t even see the girl fight (but apparently green slime was involved), demons that take over bodies a la Supernatural, and an ice demon that looks strikingly like the Night King from Game of Thrones. The girls seem to have gotten control of their powers rather quickly, and while I do like that they’ve set up Harry as a questionable character with the cliffhanger, you’re left wondering if he and Giles from Buffy went to the same Watcher/Whitelighter training facility. I’m just struggling to see the originality of the series, even if you ignore that it’s a reboot of another show.

And let’s take a moment to compare it to the original. They’ve made it different by focusing on a mother’s death, rather than a grandmother’s. There’s still a Book of Shadows (that they really don’t use yet). And we have three sisters with the same starting letter: Ms, instead of Ps. But what I miss is the learning curve. Somehow Macy was able to get ahold of her powers rather quickly. So did Mel. Maggie just needs to touch someone to hear their thoughts—a power that I find much less interesting than Phoebe’s vague premonitions. But what’s more, in the original, their powers stemmed from their emotions. Piper’s power (which, truth be told, was always my favorite) started when she’d get scared. But Mel? It’s when she’s…not mad. But we don’t really know what sets it off. Pru was when she was angry, which aligns to some extend with Macy, who seemed to draw power from anger or fear. But then again, she seemed to get a handle on it very quickly, considering it is one of the most active powers of all. I personally liked the link to the emotions in the original since it meant the Charmed Ones not only had to train themselves to learn magic but also to learn a little about themselves. Here, it feels more like convenience.

All to say, I went into the Charmed reboot with a relatively open mind, telling myself not to compare it completely to the original. But even then, I’m struggling to find what will capture my attention week to week. If it doesn’t focus more on character, I think the Power of Three will be defeated pretty quickly.

Image by the CW

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A Chat with Alyssa Milano

What has Alyssa Milano been up to since she was Phoebe on Charmed and Rebecca on Romantically Challenged? Accessing her inner child.

Well, at least that’s what her character Jane is doing in the new Lifetime movie Sundays at Tiffany’s, which premieres tonight. Based on a James Patterson novel, this super-cute movie is about Jane, a girl who grew up celebrating every birthday with her mother taking her to Tiffany’s for a very special birthday gift. And along for every childhood trip was her imaginary friend Michael.

But now, twenty years later and childhood gone, Jane is a smart businesswoman, who co-manages a New York theater with her mother (Stockard Channing) and is about to marry the very famous actor Hugh (Ivan Sergei). But when Michael (Eric Winter) shows up again and is, well, not so imaginary, things begin to change.

I had the great opportunity to watch this movie a little early, and I have to say, it quickly turned into a favorite. Placed in New York at Christmastime–in fact, Christmas Eve is both Jane’s birthday and soon-to-be wedding day–the movie had a great wintry feel without the Christmas plotline. Milano herself has such chemistry with the rest of the cast that it’s just an uber-fun romantic comedy that you’ve got to check out.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Alyssa on a recent conference call, where we chatted costars, Christmastime, and even her thoughts on a Charmed movie. Did I hear that right? A Charmed followup movie? You’ll have to read on to see.

*****

Why people should watch Sundays at Tiffany’s: From the leading lady herself, short and sweet: “I think the best thing about it is actually how romantic it is. It’s what I was first attracted to. It’s really a modern-day fairy tale in a way, which is something we don’t quite see too often anymore.”

[Read more after the break!] Continue reading

Eastwick: The power of three will…kill thee?

EASTWICK: 1.01 “Pilot”

I haven’t seen The Witches of Eastwick, but I watched last night’s pilot with someone who has. And he said that it’s basically the same.

However, I’m going in this with unbiased eyes–probably as ABC is intending. I can’t imagine that ABC would hope that the key demographic would have seen The Witches of Eastwick, since I hear it was a great film. I’d imagine that big fans of the film would hate to see a new cast and to see a TV series change its legacy.

Perhaps, though, I’m just thinking of 10 Things I Hate About You.

If you have seen the movie and then saw last night’s premiere of Eastwick, I invite you to tell me in the comments what you thought. In the meantime, I’ll take a look with eyes unseen.

First, I thought this show was going to be more of a comedy until I saw ABC’s actual schedule and promos. I’m not sure why. I guess I just wanted to distinguish it somehow from Charmed.

And it is somewhat different. Clearly, the three women aren’t sisters. There’s no real heritage. There’s some mysterious darkness that has caused these women to gain these powers. And we’re not quite sure whether these powers are good or not.

It seems like Roxie’s is pretty harmless. She sees the future in a dream. Then she can keep an eye out and make sure it doesn’t happen. Now, after the number of dreams she’s having–and all the other strange things happening with the other women–it makes me wonder why these women are still skeptical of Roxie’s dreams (except, of course, for Roxie who is freaked out). But anyway, she still seems pretty in control.

On the other side of the spectrum is Kat. She has no control and seems to be able to control the elements, much to her husband’s dismay. She’s already knocked him out of a hammock and almost killed him by electrocuting him.

In the middle is Joanna, who can make any man do her bidding. She seemed to be close to going over the dark side until she realized what she was doing and backed off.

The interesting part is how close these woman can be to dark forces in this town, and clearly, Bun already thinks they are. When really, it’s the new man in town that’s doing everything–or at least we suspect. He charms water to make them drunk. Seduces them. Creates false senses of security.

Oh yeah. And he’s supposedly dead.

The pilot did a great job of setting up the series while leaving some good questions to be answered. But here’s my main question: Can this really sustain a series status? We have a big bad, but will he be in it forever? If they try, he’ll basically be a Sylar for the show. But once the women realize and control their powers, what’s to distinguish this from Charmed? It’s got to remain unique.

You know, sometimes there’ s a reason there’s a film and not a show. I’ll be trying it out again next week, but I’d love to know your thoughts, too.

The initiation into ‘In Plain Sight’

IN PLAIN SIGHT: 2.11 “Jailbait”

Dear god. Can Francia Raisa possibly be in any show without taking her clothes off? I mean, sure, she was in lingerie in this one, and I can’t promise how much she’s actually taken off in Secret Life (I avoid that show at all costs), but either way, apparently this girl’s quite comfortable with promiscuity on television. Anyway…

I’m not sure if it’s an evil twist or just a coincidence that my first exposure to In Plain Sight happened to feature someone from one of the most detestable dramas on TV. But then again, we also had Carlos Gomez, who played one of the evil demons in Charmed. But I’ll ignore past associations so I can get to the real thing: the show itself. (Though I will say, Mary McCormack already impresses me since her appearances in The West Wing, so I’ve got a positive position already.)

You know, I really didn’t know what to expect with this show. I never really had a reason to check it out (thanks to my smart commenter who suggested I watch it, by the way), but I never had a reason not to either. I never really knew what it was about in the first season. I thought it was just another cop show. It wasn’t until the second season started that I found out it was about the witness protection program. And then, of course, I feared that I missed too much to catch up.

But it’s very accessible. And clever! The conversations outside the case really make you identify the character, and I really like the relationships. It’s something that gets lost pretty easily in many traditional cop shows. And while this might not fall in that category anyway, it’s an added bonus.

Anyway, this particular case didn’t grab my attention beyond the first few gunshots. I’m not entirely sure why. It might be because I found the daughter annoying (true, Raisa could act better than she does in Secret Life), but it seemed like the relationship between her and Cesar just didn’t seem to be all that important after her mother was gunned down in the street and the two were taken into witness protection. And the overprotective father bit? I mean, the scene where he was ready to kill Olivia’s friend for seeing her try on lingerie was funny, but by the time he was threatening Cesar, it just seemed forced.

However, the choice to say good-bye to her father forever or to stay with Cesar, that was a rough one. And it definitely made for an emotional scene in the end. It was something that you really didn’t think about as you watched things unfold. Now she’s lost both parents.

And in the end, they reconnect. It was brave of her to stand up against them, but I’m not 100% content. It seemed a little predictable, and a little too easy for Jesus once he sees her change seats. A true 180 in 60 seconds.

My question is this: What’s to prove that they still wouldn’t track down Olivia and kill her after his testimony anyway? Whether she’s with Cesar or not, she’s still in danger of being killed. With the menacing look between father and son, I could definitely see the father pulling Cesar’s puppet strings.

But hey, that’s what witness protection is for, right? I assume they have to go back in, even though they got their happy end. You can correct me if I’m wrong (I’m a newbie, remember?). Plus, even  Mary got a happy ending–and you know that suckered me in.

So my initiation? Successful. At least for another week (and maybe even checking out a few from the past season or so).

Oh, and the goat jokes? Loved them.

Scrubs: Send it to the morgue

I love Scrubs. I really do. I watch the new episodes. I watch the reruns. I just enjoy it. Plus, it introduces me to awesome new music, so there you go. Props in all corners.

And recently it was moved to ABC. In its long history, the poor show has moved from fall to winter to Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday in various timeslots, and it’s just had it pretty rough. Plus, it was all geared up last season to end, and then the Writer’s Strike cut it short, and it didn’t get to air all its episodes.

Enter ABC, who adopted the show, which I appreciated. What I had heard was that they wanted to end Scrubs the way they planned (and it was getting really good there), whether it’d be on air or DVD–they wouldn’t truncate the series just because of NBC’s cancellation or the Writer’s Strike.

So I was glad that ABC was picking it up. It finally gave it that time to really show off it’s final season.

But wait. What’s that I hear about ABC considering picking up the show again?

Boooooo!

First, let’s look at who we’re losing. Already, this season is missing characters. Sure, it’s not every episode, but I’ve noticed a lack of Carla, Turk, and even J.D. at times. And I just don’t like it.

Well, according to the article, it looks like all we’d have left is possibly Elliot, with the recurring roles (possibly) of Turk, the Janitor, and Dr. Cox. It just seems to be lacking when J.D. is missing–let alone Carla, who seems to be the only peacemaker and person with her head on straight in the entire show.

It leaves us with the interns, who so far have not impressed me. Now, I haven’t watched the webisodes, so I can’t say how entertaining those are, but as it stands on the show, they’re one-dimensional characters that really can’t carry the show on their own.

I’ve been enjoying this season. And I think ABC has, too, which is why they might see Scrubs as deserving of a gold star. But whatever happened to ending a show on a high note? Letting it have a legacy?

Shows go on too long as is. Look at Friends. Gilmore Girls (sorry, fans, but they ran out of material there). Heck, even Heroes. Networks are afraid to end things on high notes because that actually means they have to come up with good programming in its place, and they’re losing a possible money-maker.

Well, what about a show’s legacy? I mean, I hate to think back and remember “the bad years” of a show. I mean, you turn on Charmed in the afternoon and decide based on the color of Paige’s hair whether it’s worth watching (btw, if Paige is missing, you’re better off).

The characters have all grown to the point that they are going to. We’ve seen J.D., Turk, and Elliot go from young to mature–in their careers and personal lives. Carla’s got two kids (or will), and Dr. Cox even openly loves Jordan. The high note is now. Let Scrubs fade off into the sunset, and hey, even let it carry a high note for ABC with it.

Does ABC really want to be known as the network that let Scrubs suck? I’d hope not.

Please, ABC, let it go. Let our favorite characters stay our favorite characters–and when we see the show in syndicate, we don’t have to worry about “the bad years.” We can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.