Note: I’m going to be referring to the original Charmed as OG throughout these reviews. Yes, I will be comparing the new Charmed to OG. Otherwise, why are we here?
Let’s just dive right in. This is just my first reaction from one watch, unedited by the way because I have things to do. But I wanted to get this out there.
So the first line of the show is, “The isn’t a witch hunt”and as soon as I heard that, I literally said out loud, “I can’t.” It wasn’t a witch hunt until Season 2 Episode 2 in OG and that episode was earned over an entire first season of getting to know the sisters, their powers, and their motives. So what are we doing here now?
Then, the first music we hear is tropey scary music? Ugh. Music played a big part in OG because of P3 so this wack jump scare music, even if it’s just trying to be fun and mislead us into the scary moment of being caught by a sister wearing their stuff isn’t gonna cut it. Though I do love this sister dynamic being shown right off the bat here between the first two sisters and immediately, it reminds me of Phoebe and Prue.
Next, we meet mom. So she’s not dead yet. Alive and well at the moment with the “This is not a witch hunt, it’s a reckoning” line they’re trying to make fetch. Anyway, she gives a (goodbye) speech to her daughters and the dialogue here is “two” so we know right away that the third sister coming in later will be the “Paige” so to speak.
So the sisters, Mel and Maggie leave the house to enjoy the night, at which point we meet Brian, Maggie’s ex-boyfriend and Mel as she’s on her way to a girl’s house, at which point it is revealed that Mel is queer. It’s great to see this show in 2018 for moments like this added to the canon). While the sisters are enjoying their nights out, Mel with a girl, Maggie with a sorority house after a run in with the ex, ready to make the decision to rush, the girls get a message from their mother to come home. Maggie, a college freshman, ignores the text, as one does. Mel on the other hand, goes to Maggie at the sorority house party to pick her up and totally, from Maggie’s perspective, embarrasses her by saying she won’t rush, talking about rape culture to get Mel to come on, and talking about consent. It’s in this moment that I think I found my favorite sister. And it will be easy to remember since my name is Melody and hers is Mel. Ha. Anyway, the girls head home and discover their dead mother (thrown out of the attic’s window). It seems the incantation she shouted, during which she mentioned she has 3 (the power of theee), didn’t help. Lol.
It’s this point that I want to mention The Manor. The Manor. It’s so similar to the OG Manor (the exterior, the attic) that it should make fans feel comfortable but seeing more of it now than we did in the trailer, it’s good to know that they are meaning it its own (I love the new kitchen).
THEN IT JUST JUMPS TO THREE MONTHS LATER. We meet the third sister, Macy and her fine specimen of a boyfriend, Galvin. She’s staying with him while she looks for a place of her own after accepting a new job position. They’re out on a walk and pass the Manor, in which she has a visceral reaction to it while Galvin just thinks she’s bothered by it because the house was on the news, due to the death of the mom, who we discover is a Women’s Studies Professor. Cut to Macy at work, we meet Professor Thaine and he’s a sexual predator, so naturally, my first thought is, when is a demon gonna kill him.
At school, Harry makes his entrance, as the replacement to mom in the Women’s Studies Department, when he runs into Mel. If you watched the extended trailer, you already know that Harry is a whitelighter. So placing himself in the department that mom taught in and that Mel is a grad student in is quite perfect, honestly.
But then while Mel is posting Time’s Up posters outside on campus, she runs into a real life troll and slaps him when he brings her dead mother up. So back home, Maggie gives Mel is stern talking to. But wasn’t it Maggie who was at a sorority house earlier? Why does Maggie care so much that Mel could lose her job? The situation isn’t so dire that I think she ever would and if the viewer can’t get there, why is the sister bringing it up? This coming from a middle child of 3 girls. I just think the OG sisters had their distinct personalities and in this one, it’s more dynamic in that sense which is nice to see, sure, but not this early on the series. We haven’t even grounded these characters yet in who they distinctly are and now if I forget their names, I can’t say, “the responsible sister” because they’re both showing equally strong signs of this. Anyway, we learn that since mom’s death, Maggie has left the house because she can’t live there and she can’t live there with Mel who is obsessed with mom’s death.
That plan to rush and move into the sorority house is about to be cut short because Macy comes a knockin’ with a photo of her as a baby and their mom in front of their house. The power of three is intact so now the real countdown to game time begins. We learn that Macy’s dad is conveniently dead but also we learn this in the attic. Why was Macy brought to the attic to have this conversation? She’s getting a tour of where her mom died before it’s even confirmed that that’s her mom and all of that jazz? Maggie welcoming her to the attic seems like a Phoebe move, which is probably how this got through, so I’ll accept it. Mel isn’t having it though and Macy knows when she isn’t wanted so she bounces.
At a bar, she chats with Galvin, during which we learn that her dad told her that her mother died when she was two. Safer that way given the whole witch thing, which I assume he knows about because OG. While talking, Galvin pushes Macy to give the girls another chance but she’s over it and her anger makes a bottle fly across the room and crash upon hitting the wall. So Macy has OG Prue’s powers. Telekinesis. I love that she is the third sister we meet, the oldest sister of the bunch and Prue was the oldest sister and the powers are the same. Macy is the perfect blend of the third sister, with a mash up of Paige’s backstory and Prue’s powers.
Cut to Phoebe, I mean, Maggie getting a tour of the sorority house. I LOVE how her powers are shown. We learn that through touch, her telepathy manifests. I also love that we get Maggie already in college because we had a whole season where Phoebe was the lost child and didn’t know what she wanted to do before she finally decided to go back to school, so seeing school manifest earlier on was a great change, providing for more moments at the college than we ever got with OG. Definitely wish fulfillment in this regard.
Last but not least, there’s Mel, having a coffee date with her ex-girlfriend, Nico who dumped her after her mom died (given Mel was just too angry to be around). She learns she can freeze time, like OG Piper. I love that this power was shown in an eatery since Piper worked at a restaurant and we saw her with her powers for the first time there. It feels full circle.
Once we’ve finally seen all of the girls gain their powers, it seemed like a good idea to have Whitelighter Harry kidnap them all and bring them back to the attic, tied up. Umm. No. Not feeling that at all. They really couldn’t find another way to do this? He tells them they are witches and must save the world from impending doom…ummm. Not feeling that either. That feels very final. And very final was the last 2 seasons of Charmed, not the first. So, I’m not a fan of the way that was worded but that might just be being nitpick.
Anyway, through Harry, we learn that mom bound their powers when they were born to protect them and live normal lives and was in the process of unbinding the powers on the night she was murdered. Mom sent Macy the grant application to make sure she was accepted into the program she currently teaches at. Also, they have 48 hours to decide unanimously if they want to be witches. Why 48 hours? That seems silly. It would make more sense if it was 3 days – the power of 3 and all of that.
So once he’s done with his speech, he disappears and reappears to show the girls that they can call his name and he’ll be there. The special effect for this is absolutely dreadful. It feels like an effect you’d see in a 2002 straight to dvd fantasy. I digress.
Mel is the only one interested in this, naturally since she is the one obsessed with her mother’s death and this would help her solve the murder. Maggie doesn’t want to die and Macy feels there is a scientific explanation for all of this. I love this element with Macy because she is a scientist and now this show is more than ever, a space where science and magic co-exist. That really excites me and I’m thrilled that the writers made this decision. I totally see how they made the transition from history (with OG Prue working at the auction house at the museum) to science and how that connects to magic and I’m on board.
Without a mutual agreement, the girls go their separate ways. Maggie goes for a walk in the woods to clear her head, I guess and is chased by a demon dog. Mel is greeted by Nico at home and the two have ex sex. When Maggie comes back home, freaked out, the Whitelighter says a demon dog comes with a demon owner. Maggie goes outside the house for a breather and is kidnapped by the sorority, during which she alerts her sisters. They are on their way and then she hides away from the sorority leader, thinking she’s a demon. Turns out, it’s her ex-boyfriend, Brian. Who wants to bet they broke up because he wasn’t himself. Because “It’s not you, it’s me” and it really was because it was him, or in this case, wasn’t. Anyway, I almost flipped out when I saw Brian turn into a demon because THE DEMON MAKEUP IS THE SAME AND IT IS AMAZING. I love it! Yes!!! I also love that we get to see demons possess humans and the humans don’t die.
The big bad demon though turns out to be that percy Professor, who it turns out feeds off of strong females. Heh. I do like the idea of getting one demon possession and one big bad demon each episode but also, I REALLY hope that’s not the case procedural wise because there are so many ways to show the demon of the week. I also love how the Whitelighter shows up in the middle of them fighting demons to heal innocent bystanders and wipe their minds but also, I don’t want that to be the case all of the time because OG did lose innocents and these girls, newbies to the game, need to as well.
Before the episode wraps up, we learn that Mel’s powers work when she’s not angry, aka has a clear head and sound mind. We get a oujia board reference when Macy says she thinks mom contacted her through one when she was younger. And they find and break out the board, only to get a message (they believe is from mom) that says Don’t Trust Harry, although he’s standing right behind them. And that’s how the episode ends. I know this is supposed to be intriguing but I’m just like, ehh. What next.
Okay, so, a few things.
1) I don’t like the tone of the Pilot at all but I see where their heads were at and I see the potential for what it could be, minus the tropey horror bits. They have 8 seasons to work with tone wise at their disposal, so they need to iron it out quick. It shouldn’t take as long as shows that aren’t already established. Get it together.
2) The sisters are younger and I understand why they aged them down and after seeing how everything has played out and what stories we can get with them aged down, I am totally down for this. It doesn’t take away from OG, it adds to the canon.
3) I wonder when and how they will tell their love interests about their powers. It’s much too early I think to do it before the season finale, or even in season one period. I also wonder if the love interests that we see now will be the love interests that stand the test of time and/or find out period.
4) I love that OG Phoebe feminism shines through all of the sisters – not that it didn’t with the OG sisters, it’s just more in your face this time around and I am here for it.
Okay, so those are my initial reactions to the Charmed Pilot. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it. It’s just…there. What do you think?