And here it is, the final season of Charmed. After eight years of battling demons and evil, it’s time for the sisters to take a bow in style. Some of the early stuff this season may be a bit flawed, but once it hits its stride it emerges as an excellent and emotional final season of a truly magical show. Major spoilers will follow in my review.
After the events of Season 7 when the girls were presumed dead after battling Zankou, Piper(Holly Marie Combs), Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) and Paige(Rose McGowan) along with Leo(Brian Krause) have taken on new identities and have decided to lead a demon-free life that they have always wanted. Yet no matter how hard they try, there is still their calling and events that show them that they can’t run from destiny, it is what they were born to do. After much discussion, the girls change back to themselves again, with the help of a friendly Homeland Security agent named Agent Murphy who covers for them by saying they faked their deaths as they were working for the government. Murphy occasionally asks the girls for help in strange cases that come his way. Now with the demon fighting back, the girls are busier than ever stopping the spread of evil, but this time they have help. A young feisty witch Billie Jenkins(Kaley Cuoco), becomes Paige’s charge and trains as a witch under the girls, often getting into trouble because of her free spirit and rebellious attitude. Each sister has their dramas to deal with as well as collectively, as this season gets very eventful. Piper has to face the fact that with Leo now a mortal, she may well lose him. Her deepest fear comes true when the Angel of Death comes after him. Rather than just let him be taken, Piper and her sisters make a deal with the Angel of Destiny to freeze Leo until they succeed in a forthcoming battle that is ominously mentioned with intent. Phoebe is continuing her search for love, yet can’t seem to find it anywhere. She, while still in magical disguise, thinks she has found the one in Dex, an artist. But she feels like she can’t be herself around him with the disguise and she ends the relationship. She finally finds love later in the form of Coop, who is in fact a Cupid sent by the Elders. Paige, who is embracing many of her Whitelighter duties with having Billie as a charge, also finds love with cop Henry. Paige marries Henry and does inform him of her supernatural abilities, which he accepts after hesitation. Billie also has her own arc which concerns the kidnapping of her sister years before. With the help of the sisters, Billie finds Christy(Marnette Patterson) in the underworld, afraid and barely able to function. Yet this is a facade as Christy, after all her years in captivity has now become consumed by evil forces that have altered her sense of right and wrong. It is Christy who is in fact the threat that faces the sisters. The introduction of Christy brings the threads and hints of a battle full circle. Working alongside the newly reconstituted Triad, she poisons Billie against the sisters and draws the battle lines. With both sets of sisters against each other, it’s a devastating battle that leads to a moving time-travelling finale. Join me as I relive the many moments of Season 8 as our favourite witches sign off from the screen with a mix of drama, adventure and emotion.
I’ve heard many fans say that Charmed should have ended with Season 7, but I for one thought there was still more story to tell. I mean, the Season 7 finale was epic but it did leave the door open to more plot. The whole identity changing plot is alright but for me doesn’t really add that much to the show. Identity and the girls wanting normal lives has been explored before and should have really just been left. Once the girls are back to themselves, the season picks up a lot and gains more assertiveness and pace. It helps that the sisters are closer together now than they have ever been and while their lives are separate, their always linked somehow or someway. This is where the strength of Charmed comes from, the bond between them. It is a powerful tool that has kept the show going because we can relate to the girls and their feelings. Sisterhood also plays a key part with Billie and Christy, especially when Billie sides with her and it’s a battle of sisters.
I’ve heard people describe Season 8 as disjointed, but I personally find it very well done and crafted. There is the humour which is great for some one-liners, the romances of the girls and the dangerous threat of darkness they must face. So I really can’t see much of a problem with the season, except maybe a few of the opening episodes are a bit weak and Phoebe’s brief romance with Dex isn’t really that good. but do pick up as the show goes on. I can’t say that it is the best season but it certainly wraps things up nicely and has a whole lot of entertaining and emotional moments along the way. Highlights of this season are the heartbreaking goodbye between Piper and Leo when he is marked for death, Paige’s beautiful wedding in the Manor and the last two episodes of the show that I will go into detail about below.
The penultimate episode really kicks things up with an explosive showdown. Both sets of sisters invoke the powerful essence of The Hollow, a magical entity that consumes power and possesses the person with superhuman strength. After the pre-battle niceties, it’s down to business as rage burns. Because of the power that the both sides have, it causes the Manor to implode. Piper and Billie survive, but the other sisters die. It is around this time that Leo is brought back to help. The battle is one intense sequence and filled with outstanding special effects. The emotional fallout is even greater and leads us to the final ever episode, which ranks as one of Charmed’s finest hours. This episode is an emotional ride that involves Piper journeying to the past to prevent the battle and save her sisters. But by shifting in time, she goes through various events that bring family members from the past and future into the forefront. Grams, Patty, future Chris and Wyatt from the future, all play their parts in this amazing last hour. There is still the matter of Christy, but this time Billie can now see that there is no saving her sister and is forced to kill her in self-defence and join the Charmed Ones as a loyal friend. There’s just something so beautiful and moving about the final episode as it wraps things up, respectfully tips its hat to old episodes and lets us watch as Piper, Phoebe and Paige finally fulfill their long destiny. I love seeing the futures of the girls, with Piper and Leo growing old together, Phoebe married to Coop with children and Paige also having children with husband Henry and finding her identity while each reflecting through narration their respective journeys as witches and women and all that it has taught them. Trust me, if you don’t feel moved by the finale, you don’t have a heart.
The acting for this season is of a high standard, especially from the central trio. I can’t praise the chemistry between them enough, it’s so convincing and beautiful to put into words. The growth of each of the sisters is also worthy of praise as they have evolved throughout the years. Holly Marie Combs is sarcastic but loving as Piper, who is the beating heart and glue of the family. Combs just brings the warmth out in Piper and the kick ass side when battling demonic activity. Alyssa Milano is beautiful and full of passion as Phoebe, discovering that destiny does in fact lead in the right direction when love is concerned. I must say I’m not the biggest fan of Coop, but I was happy to see Phoebe finally settle down with someone she truly loved. Rose McGowan brings the vivacious and understanding nature of Paige out, as she accepts her Whitelighter duties once more and manages to balance her life. I loved Paige’s marriage to Henry, as he was a mortal who understood her magic and may have not always agreed with it, but still loved her. As I said earlier, the three leading ladies have embodied these characters so well for so long that you can see they have incorporated parts of themselves into the characters and have also grown in the process. These are indelible characters that I will never forget for as long as I live. Brian Krause may be absent for half of the season, but when he’s on the screen he makes up for it with the earnestness and love that he invests Leo with. Kaley Cuoco plays Billie as perky, bratty and sassy and does lighten the show a bit. In some of the emotional scenes she doesn’t quite convince, but she’s a pleasing enough character. Marnette Patterson makes for an angered presence of being consumed by evil and brings out the devious side of Christy that is determined to take down the sisters.
- Still Charmed and Kicking – C
- Malice in Wonderland – D
- Run, Piper, Run – B+
- Desperate Housewitches – D-
- Rewitched – B
- Kill Billie Vol 1 – B-
- The Lost Picture Show – C
- Battle of the Hexes – D
- Hulkus Pocus – B
- Vaya Con Leos – A
- Mr and Mrs Witch – C
- Payback’s a Witch – B+
- Repo Manor – B+
- 12 Angry Zen – B
- The Last Temptation of Christy – C+
- Engaged and Confused – B+
- Generation Hex – C-
- The Torn Identity – B+
- The Jung and the Restless – A
- Gone with the Witches – A
- Kill Billie Vol 2 – A+
- Forever Charmed – A+
So aside from a few flaws which are ironed out later, Season 8 of Charmed is a stunning send off to Piper, Phoebe and Paige and one that ensures the show will remain in my heart forever. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my reviews of Charmed, as I most certainly have enjoyed revisiting this magical show once more.
Although Season 6 was marked by a return to the goofball elements of comedy, it was redeemed by an emotional and dark finale. Thankfully Season 7 of Charmed continues the darker vein and gets the stories back on track with seriousness and depth. Spoilers will follow in this review of the penultimate season.
Everyone is reeling from Gideon’s betrayal and attempt to kill baby Wyatt in the finale of last season. Piper is concerned about keeping baby Chris safe, while Leo(Brian Krause) is consumed by anger and goes on a demon hunting spree to purge his hate. In his confusion he accidentally kills another Elder, which leaves his ridden with guilt. He is further haunted by strange whispers and faces. These are later revealed to be the Avatars( who were glimpsed in Season 5), beings who want to create a Utopia where good and evil are no more. Elsewhere, Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) feels a lack of direction without her active powers and takes a break from her professional work. Her desire and purpose eventually flood back when she rediscovers her selflessness again and her powers are restored. She has a little dalliance with her handsome ghost writer at the paper Leslie, but her constant absences and family emergencies make sure it isn’t a full-blown union. Yet while she believes that she won’t find love she gets some guidance from an unlikely source. Paige(Rose McGowan) fights for Magic School to stay open and becomes the headmistress, meaning she can at least have a job where she doesn’t have to hide the fact that she’s a witch. She also becomes involved with Agent Brody(Kerr Smith), a federal agent who knows about the Avatars and wants to stop them. Leo eventually becomes one of them and convinces Piper, Phoebe and Paige to agree to this new world. Brody tries to avert this but is killed in the process, which leaves Paige emotionally distraught. Yet after everything has been changed, Leo sees that the Avatars erase people from this world that create conflict. The sisters come to an agreement with the Avatars to change the world back to what it once was, because the world needs both good and evil to keep the cosmic balance. The girls also have Inspector Sheridan(Jenya Lano) on their backs, who suspects that the girls are up to something bad, despite the warnings from Darryl(Dorian Gregory) that they are good people. Darryl, who hasn’t really seen eye to eye with the sisters, begins to help them again to avoid suspicion. But this becomes the least of the girls worries as a new threat rears its head and comes after the girls. This time evil is the very powerful Zankou(Oded Fehr), who will stop at nothing to kill them and mounts a full-scale war that may well have fatal consequences for the sisters.
A lot of the success of Season 7 is the return of consistency and a grander set of events. There is scope to this season and I’ve always felt it was split into halves.In the first half, we have the Avatars posing ambiguous questions and challenging the natural order. They do have the sisters question the world In the second half, we have the ruthless Zankou and his attempts to kill the sisters, which pushes them harder than ever before. Both halves are excellently observed as we are given two threats one after the other. The two halves do overlap occasionally but they flow well together. And excusing the occasional dull episode, Season 7 regains control of the structure and makes us invested as well as entertained. The humour is still there but kept to controlled level rather than overload, so that it ties nicely in with the darkness. A certain feeling of epic battle looms large and leads to an explosive and interesting finale with Zankou hungry for power and death. It’s clear that the producers are gearing up for the last season with this finale.
Another driving force of Season 7 is Piper and Leo’s relationship being tested once more. Leo, after being tried by the Elders for turning to the Avatars and also killing a fellow Elder, and sent on a quest where he has no memory manages to make his way to her again as proof that they are meant to be together. Leo may be stripped of his powers as an Elder and a Whitelighter, but he is relieved as it won’t tear him away from his family. Once again, the love shared by Piper and Leo shines through the adversity as they officially get back together as a married couple in moving fashion. The amount of personal emotion in Season 7 is very much evident here as well as Phoebe regaining her faith in love after listening to Drake( Billy Zane), a former demon now turned good who makes her see that someday she will find the one she has been looking for. Charmed’s main heart has always been emotional ties and family and this season definitely taps into them more than ever. Season 3 and Season 4 may be my favourites, but the excellence of Season 7 places it just behind them because of its greatness and depth. There are only two flaws in the season and both revolve around two newer characters. The first is Leslie, Phoebe’s brief beau who is also her ghost writer while she takes a break. I just never felt any connection between the two. I can get that they wanted to have him as a hunky love interest, but it never worked out that well. The other is Inspector Sheridan, who was introduced in the closing half of Season 6. I just don’t like her character, she doesn’t really contribute anything to the story except hassle the girls. None of this is the fault of Jenya Lano, but the character just seems so bland. Plus we’ve already had the girls under surveillance story been done before and far more effectively.
I must give special mention to some wonderful highlights of this season, which overflows with greatness. The girls morphing into vicious beasts because of the blue moon. Paige and Kyle being sucked into a detective novel and embracing the allure of Noir. That episode is one of the finest hours of the show, with the black and white cloaking events in that old-fashioned celluloid glow and Paige looking sensational as a femme fatale. The sisters protecting a Seer( a wonderful Charisma Carpenter) from evil forces. Kyle’s death and Paige’s reaction are sad scenes that really deliver the emotional grip. The girls seeing that the new Utopia is not as perfect as it appears brilliantly shows that there are grey areas of existence that are hard to let go of. The touching scene of Kyle, who has been made a Whitelighter following his death, bidding goodbye to Paige is heart-wrenching. Piper slipping into a coma and being greeted by someone she never thought she’d see again. The assortment of supporting characters is excellent, with Billy Zane, Charisma Carpenter and Kerr Smith standing out in their respective roles. And not forgetting the climactic battle with the devious Zankou that gets explosive and deadly.
The wonderful cast brings their A-game to this season and turn in excellent work. Holly Marie Combs excels at playing Piper as the resourceful and responsible oldest sister, trying to keep everything under control and attempting to stay strong in dire circumstances. An added plus is the convincing chemistry and personal emotion with Brian Krause, who plays Leo as tormented and frightened, yet brought back to his senses by his wife. Leo may be a mortal when he falls from his grace, but it brings him closer than ever before with the women he loves above anything else. Alyssa Milano is effervescent yet driven as Phoebe, discovering that while love hasn’t always treated her right, there is still hope out there in time. Phoebe seems more at ease this season, having seen that her selflessness is what drives her on and her bond with her family is most important. Rose McGowan rounds out the trio as the wilful Paige, experiencing deep love and sorrow but managing to make her way through it. Her romance with Kyle may have been brief, but it was observed so greatly that it was moving. It gave Paige extra defiance and opinions than ever before, and that is what I’ve always liked about her so to see it expanded on was a big plus. McGowan has clearly grown in the role of Paige, charting her venture from reluctant sister to dedicated and passionate woman. As the vicious demon Zankou, Oded Fehr exudes a sly and ruthless aura that is very disquieting and makes him one of the best foes that the sisters have faced. And this season we bid farewell to Dorian Gregory as Darryl. His mix of bewildered emotions and honesty over the years will be missed but he ensures that he won’t be forgotten in the Charmed universe.
- A Call to Arms – B
- The Bare Witch Project – C+
- Cheaper by the Coven – B+
- Charrrmed! – C
- Styx Feet Under – B
- Once in a Blue Moon – B
- Someone to Witch Over Me – C
- Charmed Noir – A+
- There’s Something About Leo – B
- Witchness Protection – A
- Ordinary Witches – C-
- Extreme Makeover: World Edition – A
- Charmageddon – A+
- Carpe Demon – D
- Show Ghouls – C
- The Seven Year Witch – A
- Scry Hard – B
- Little Box of Horrors – B
- Freaky Phoebe – D-
- Imaginary Fiends – B
- Death Becomes Them – A
- Something Wicca This Way Goes – A
Charmed Season 7 makes for eventful and emotional viewing that takes its place as another excellent season of supernatural battles and drama.
With Season 6, Charmed stumbles a little with trying to incorporate too many arcs and situations. While Season 5 had an episodic approach, Season 6 takes it to the next level and results in some low points. Yet for all of the confusion, it still becomes enjoyable due to the cast, writing and appeal of the show. Warning, spoilers will definitely follow in this review.
Piper(Holly Marie Combs) is raising Wyatt after Leo( Brian Krause) became an Elder and they separated. Strangely though, Piper has been unusually jovial as of late, which alarms Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) and Paige( Rose McGowan). Unbeknownst to the girls but known to the audience, Leo is not up in the heavens but trapped somewhere else. Chris( Drew Fuller), who arrived from the future scattered his orbs and he ended up in the mythical island of Valhalla. Chris is still very mysterious even though he tells the sisters that he is there to ensure that Wyatt is not turned evil, which was the case in his future. After Paige and Phoebe rescue Leo from Valhalla which is watched over by Valkyries, Piper emotions flood back and she vents her pain and torment at Leo leaving her. Leo had in fact used his magic to ease Piper’s pain after seeing how destructive it could be. The two eventually agree to part ways, with Leo still able to see his son. Meanwhile, Chris begins sending the sisters after various demons and teaching them various lessons in less than truthful ways. It transpires that Chris is not just a Whitelighter from the future, he is Piper and Leo’s son. He came back to ensure that his parents got back together and to stop the spread of evil in the future. One this is established, Piper and Leo, who still love one another, resume their relationship after much soul-searching and she becomes pregnant with baby Chris. Chris’s sense of timing begins to fit into place and all the things he has done begin to have more meaning. Phoebe, on the other hand, is getting more serious with boyfriend Jason. Yet she feels that she needs to tell him about her identity as a witch and demon fighter. Unfortunately, when Jason finds out accidentally, he can’t handle it and he parts ways with Phoebe. A vision of the future in which she has a child makes Phoebe determined yet a little selfish as she begins to neglect her duties as a witch in the hopes of finding Mr. Right . Add to that her inheritance of the power of empathy and things are going to get very complicated. Paige is doing a few temp jobs after seeing that she does need some life outside of her magical duties. Yet, everywhere she turns, magic seems to follow her. Even in her love life, magic is there in the form of Richard, who attempts not to use magic but becomes alarmingly addicted to it. Together, while battling the demons, the girls must figure out who is after Wyatt. It is in fact, though for a while it is disguised, an Elder named Gideon, consumed by evil but posing as good. Gideon wants to kill the boy as he has seen the huge amount of power he will yield. Family matters, fierce battles and conflicting emotions will all come to the forefront in the Charmed One’s attempts to save young Wyatt.
Season 6, out of all the seasons, is probably the most inconsistent. While certain plot arcs are interesting to explore, there is a sense of lurching from one idea to another without much thought. It returns Charmed to goofball territory, and while it has always been there, it was always kept under control and contained. Here it makes it almost frothy with soap opera overtones that don’t do the show justice. Episodes such as the one in which Paige and Phoebe conjure up a hunky Mr Right for Piper and the girls protecting Excalibur feel tacked on and don’t really serve much of a purpose in the grand design of things. And the other flaw is Paige’s love interest as Richard. I just don’t find him to be the most interesting guy and doesn’t really make an impact. The writers must have caught on to this as he was soon written out after Paige sees that his use of magic is no good.
What Charmed doesn’t lose is that sense of magic and love that makes it work so well, despite the flaws that sometimes intervene. My enthusiasm for Charmed will never be erased. This does lead to some highlights. The sight of the sisters posing as Valkyries, clad in Xena Warrior Princess style leather bra and mini skirts is supremely sexy. That scene certainly makes an impact filled opening to the season and an image which is unforgettable. A trio of trashy blonde witches steal the girls powers and identities, leaving the girls unknown until they fight back against the troika of trampy sisters. A vicious spider demon that cocoons its victims before consuming their life force targets them. And the epic finale makes up for a lot of the season’s flaws with the sisters facing evil doubles of themselves in a battle to ensure Wyatt’s safety and that Chris turns out fine, hoping to send him back to the right place without having repercussions. The whole Gideon trying to murder Wyatt story at least incorporates a welcome sense of darkness and danger into the mix. We are even introduced to Magic School, a protected place where people can learn about the craft without the pressures of the outside world and the demon attacks. Phoebe’s new power of empathy leads to some very funny moments, as she intercepts people’s emotions without them even realising it and often results in misunderstandings with her sisters. It might be a weak season in comparison with other seasons, but at least it has heart to it and the Chris story line is very entertaining as we figure it out. And not forgetting the scenes of future Chris fading away after being stabbed by Gideon, only to be born as baby Chris shortly after that are touchingly shot and bound to leave a lump in the throat.
Alyssa Milano continues to flesh out Phoebe, now showing us the side that doesn’t want to always be selfless and wants to have something of her own. Yet while some of her actions are a bit selfish, there is a heart in there and you do see where she is coming from in regards to having a life as well as magic. Phoebe has always been compassionate and she hasn’t lost any of that in her journey as a woman and a witch. We also don’t take a dislike to Phoebe because of her sometimes neglect of Wiccan duties ( she does have her powers revoked for a while by the powers that be for abuse of magic), partly due to Milano giving Phoebe a relatability and driven but sexy personality. Plus, this does lead to her beginning to question whether she is cut out for love and sends her on a personal journey, so it’s not all bad. Holly Marie Combs brings her familiar combination of inner vulnerability, outer steel and wry sarcasm to Piper once again, as she confronts her heart, her feelings for Leo and attempts to protect her son from any evil that comes his way. Piper is a force of nature as both a witch and a mother, who people really shouldn’t mess with. It was so good to see Piper and Leo reunite as they are a beautiful couple whose love transcends all. Rose McGowan shines as the independent Paige, immersing herself in the part of the youngest sister and the most stubborn. It’s a trait that I’ve always liked about Paige, she never gives up or gives in and will fight for what she wants. Add to that McGowan’s expressive face and knack for humour, and Paige is an amazing character. The chemistry between the three is another factor that keeps the show successful, it’s such a believable bond that is beautiful and full of strength. Drew Fuller is a great addition to the story, with his character of Chris being enigmatic, angry yet neurotic at the same time. The whole Chris coming back from the future to make sure it turns out differently is one that always piqued my interest and Fuller is most of the reason for that. It takes what could have been a forgettable season and gives it a jolt, despite many of the flaws present. Brian Krause brings the necessary earnestness to Leo as he reunites with Piper and attempts to rectify wrongs with Chris from the future. It’s great to see Dorian Gregory given more screen time this season as Darryl. It helps that his story is deepened as he is nearly killed due to magic and begins to pull away from the girls in the belief that he will be safe.
- Valhalley of the Dolls Part 1 – C
- Valhalley of the Dolls Part 2 – C+
- Forget Me Not – B
- The Power of Three Blondes – B+
- Love’s a Witch – C
- My Three Witches – D
- Soul Survivor – C+
- Sword and the City – E
- Little Monsters – B+
- Chris-Crossed – B
- Witchstock – D-
- Prince Charmed – F
- Used Karma – B-
- The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell – C-
- I Dream of Phoebe – B+
- The Courtship of Wyatt’s Father – B
- Hyde School Reunion – E
- Spin City – B+
- Crimes and Witch-Demeanors – C-
- A Wrong Day’s Journey Into Right – B
- Witch Wars – B
- It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World Part 1 – A
- It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World Part 2 – A+
So it may be flawed and not as consistent and previous seasons, but Charmed Season 6 never loses its heart or sense of magic.
With Charmed Season 4 being the darker continuation of Season 3, I think the producers of Charmed decided to lighten the show up a bit more with this season. Needless to say, some of it works and some of it doesn’t. Season 5 is a mixed bag, but I don’t think it’s as bad as many fans make it out to be, which is thanks to the great cast and chemistry. Warning, spoilers will be following in this review.
In this eventful season, we firstly have Piper(Holly Marie Combs) going through her pregnancy with her first child. In the beginning, she is scared that she won’t be a good mother and occasionally panics about bringing a child into a life with supernatural threat. Eventually she manages to gain control and still take on her responsibility of a Charmed One and head of the family. She gives birth to a baby boy named Wyatt, in tribute to her husband Leo(Brian Krause). It was originally thought that the child would be a girl because of the tradition in the family, but Wyatt is no ordinary child. He has the powers of witchcraft from his mother and Whitelighter abilities from his father. However with Wyatt’s birth, comes the attempts from various demons to send him down the path of evil. Leo must also contend with the constant calling of The Elders, which begins to put a big strain on his union with Piper. Meanwhile, Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) is using her career as an advice columnist to take her mind of her demonic ex-husband Cole(Julian McMahon). Unfortunately while in the wasteland, Cole acquired many powers and found a way to return. While Phoebe still has feelings for him, she knows the relationship will never work and wants to move on with her life once and for all. Cole does not take lightly to this and makes many attempts to win her back, all while slipping into madness because of the powers he’s absorbed. Their relationship comes to an explosive end in the 100th episode, in which Cole is vanquished for good. And we have Paige(Rose McGowan) quitting her job as a social worker and taking on the studies of the craft to show her worth. On a witch kick, reminiscent of Prue, Paige emerges as a valuable member of the trio with power and compassion, when in the beginning she wasn’t sure of her place in the magical scheme of things. Yet even with the threat of Cole eliminated, there’s still multitudes of demons and warlocks all looking to kill The Charmed Ones. As personal feelings, supernatural threat and tough decisions abound, the girls must face these challenges head on.
I can understand the producers wanting to lighten the mood a little after the darkness of Season 4, but at times they go a bit too far. The influx of magical beings that the girls come into contact with becomes a bit too wacky with Leprechauns and nymphs needing their help in some questionable and ineffective episodes. Yet when the humour does succeed, it does make the season very enjoyable. Watching as Piper’s unborn baby plays various tricks on her powers is quite amusing as are some of the things the girls are transformed into, including latex wearing super heroines, a mermaid and in the finale Greek Goddesses. Saying this, Season 5 is not as bad as many make it out to be. Sure it may pale in comparison with the excellent last season, but it still retains excitement and creativity. If more time was taken to flesh out a few more ideas and have a bit more consistency, it would have been truly amazing. Yet we do have some standout episodes that include; the girls being trapped in versions of fairy tales, them protecting a gypsy tribe from a vision-stealing hunter, a wicked crone stealing their sense in an attempt to turn Wyatt evil and Cole altering the universe to his own design, but paying the price in the end.
Thankfully, Season 5 doesn’t go completely overboard with the humour and at least ties up some loose ends with emotional clarity. Chief among these is the end of Phoebe and Cole’s relationship. This was the right time to wrap up the story line and give it a bittersweet goodbye. Cole may try to win Phoebe back, but can’t deny the evil that has always been within him. It’s sad to see Cole go because he’s such a great character, but at least he has a great farewell to boot. Watching the relationship on its emotional ride has been well done, but this was the right time to tie the story up once and for all. The introduction of Wyatt gives the show a lot of possibilities and the challenge of Piper and Leo’s marriage which eventually becomes estranged is movingly observed. I think because of the over reliance on the light this season, people tend to forget that there are some very emotional moments here, chief of all Cole’s vanquish and Leo becoming an Elder, which in turn means he must part with Piper. The emotional separation between Piper and Leo is a real tearjerker if ever there was one and if you don’t at least cry a single tear, you don’t have a heart. Plus, the intriguing first appearance of Chris, the Whitelighter sent from the future who is very mysterious and will soon play an integral role in the show. Season 5 may not be the best season of Charmed, but at least the emotional investment and ties are still as moving as ever and believable.
The cast is on great form, as we’ve grown with these characters and their traits. Holly Marie Combs continues to impress as Piper, investing her with deep emotions and tough strength. Having always been the most maternal, having a baby gives Piper that extra kick of steely protectiveness of her family and those closest to her. The exploration of her relationship with Leo as they part is movingly observed, mainly due to the sheer amount of emotion that Combs puts into the sad scene. Alyssa Milano shines as Phoebe, who just wants to move on with her life after Cole. She gains an added sense of liberation when this happens. I liked how their relationship played out as it was obvious they both deeply loved one another, but somehow it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s also nice to see Phoebe become involved with a normal guy for once, in this case Jason, the owner of the paper Phoebe works at. After all the pain Phoebe has endured, she at least deserves another shot at love and Milano makes her lovable and mature at the same time. And this is the season where I think Paige really blossoms. As played by the excellent Rose McGowan, Paige is smart, quick-witted and kooky. McGowan makes Paige a joy to watch as she embraces her gifts and becomes a fully fledged witch, while also adhering to Whitelighter duties. This is the season where Paige finally feels like a part of the family after her initial reluctance. Brian Krause is given more to do as Leo and infuses him with the wrestling of decision between his calling and his family. Julian McMahon bows out of Charmed in style by portraying Cole as inherently despicable but also a very tragic character who has made his mark on the show. Dorian Gregory is seen way too infrequently this season as Darryl. This is a shame as I do find his character quite funny and endearing in the scheme of things.
- A Witch’s Tail Part 1 – C
- A Witch’s Tail Part 2 – C+
- Happily Ever After – B+
- Siren Song – B
- Witches in Tights – C-
- The Eyes Have It – A
- Sympathy for the Demon – B
- A Witch In Time – A
- Sam I Am – B-
- Y Tu Mummy Tambien – D
- The Importance of Being Phoebe – C
- Centennial Charmed – A+
- House Call – C+
- Sand Francisco Dreamin – C
- The Day the Magic Died – C
- Baby’s First Demon – B-
- Lucky Charmed – E
- Cat House – B
- Nymphs Just Wanna Have Fun – F
- Sense and Sense Ability – A+
- Necromancing the Stone – C
- Oh My Goddess! Part 1 – B-
- Oh My Goddess! Part 2 – B+
Despite some noticeable weaknesses during this season’s run, Season 5 of Charmed is still entertaining and enjoyable.
Following the tragic ending to Season 3, I think a lot of people were wondering how Charmed could carry on without Prue in it. They found their solution in the casting of another sister, portrayed by Rose McGowan. Interestingly, this new cast member fits excellently into the scheme of things and brings forth the theme of adjustment that makes Season 4 so great. With the continuing darkness of the last season, it proves Season 4 is another entertaining and enthralling entry in the Charmed universe. Be warned, spoilers will follow.
We begin with the emotional fallout following Prue’s death. Piper(Holly Marie Combs) is taking it particularly badly as she has always had someone older than her to lean on. Despite having guardian angel and husband Leo(Brian Krause) there for comfort, Piper initially can’t handle what has happened. Phoebe(Alyssa Milano) feels sadness but attempts to remain strong by focusing her energies on protecting half demon lover Cole(Julian McMahon), as there is a bounty on his head courtesy of The Source. With Prue’s death, The Power of Three is severed and Piper and Phoebe are now more open to demonic threat. Yet through strange events another person comes into their life. This person is Paige Matthews(Rose McGowan), who it transpires is their half-sister that they never knew about. The girl’s mother had an affair with her Whitelighter which resulted in her giving birth to this magical child. In order to keep it secret from The Elders, they had her adopted at birth. Paige is independent, feisty yet also sympathetic. Her powers which stem from her Whitelighter side include orbing herself and objects around her. As Piper and Phoebe welcome her into their circle after initial hesitation, Paige begins to find it difficult having led such a seemingly normal life and now battling evil. She does eventually get the hang of it and harness the craft. With The Power of Three restored again, the girls are powerful once more as well as closer. And they’re going to need to be with The Source attempting to kill them on a regular basis. Yet even when it appears that they vanquish The Source, he finds a way to come back and turns Cole back to the dark side once more. With evil now consuming him and aided by the intelligent but cunning Seer( Debbi Morgan), Cole transpires to make Phoebe his dark queen of evil. So in the midst of battling demons, Phoebe must make her choice: fulfill her destiny as a Charmed one or transfer to the side of evil in order to be with her beloved.
With Shannen Doherty not on the show, you can imagine that it was a big gamble to introduce a new character into the mix. But it actually works having another sister as it gives a new dynamic to the girls. Piper shifts from being the middle sister to the strong-willed oldest, although this adjustment is painful for her. Phoebe, having always been the most free-spirited is now the middle sister, trying to keep peace and be level-headed. And the newest addition Paige is spontaneous, sexy and initially reluctant to make sense of her role in this circle. It helps that McGowan works so well with her co-stars and gradually shows us the growing bond that heals the broken Power of Three. Season 4 also succeeds based on the dark overtones carried over from Season 3. The presence of death is always there, from Prue’s untimely demise to the various threats that want to eliminate the girls, death is surrounding all of them. Plus battling The Source( we actually see his monstrous face this season) and then contending with demonic Cole provides for explosive action. The episode in which they battle The Source is one of the best episodes in the show’s run with excitement, dread and magic all playing their parts. Once more, there is a consistency throughout Season 4 that puts it up there with the best work in the show. Season 3 has the advantage of being my favourite, but Season 4 comes an extremely close second. Sure there’s the odd dud episode here and there, but the overall quality is high.
What is really impressive over the course of this season is the way in which it gives mostly equal time to each sister’s arcs. Phoebe has the biggest arc this time, with her precarious love for a tempted Cole putting her in a particularly difficult position. It’s interesting to see how much Phoebe has grown up now, and how being now in the middle of two sisters, she has a greater understanding of how Piper used to feel. Phoebe is full of passion for Cole and is turned to side of evil by him for a time and realises that she’s carrying a child of pure evil, but Phoebe’s heart is good and true and this is what stops her from fully transitioning to demon queen. When she and her sisters finally vanquish evil Cole( fear not fans of Cole, he finds a way to return), you can see the devastation on her face at the result of her doomed romance. The vanquish then leads to a heartfelt scene in which Piper and Paige silently comfort a sobbing Phoebe. By the linking of hands and embraces, their care for their sister is rendered beautifully without any words. Phoebe must then contend with carrying the heir to evil and The Seer attempting to steal it. Eventually, the child proves too strong for The Seer when she gets it and she is vanquished by its great power.
Piper is portrayed now as the most maternal sister as she manages to harness her newer power and use it well. It is only right that she discuss the possibility of having a child with Leo, but Piper is still unsure of whether it is safe for a child in a world full of demons and danger. Piper has clearly evolved from how she was originally in Season 1, in terms of both personal and emotional strength. And with now having to fill the shoes of her deceased sister, Piper continues to slowly grow stronger as the head of the family. Piper may have always been the glue to the family, but now she must embrace her role as the oldest and most responsible of the sisters.
The character of Paige gives us fun and vibrancy, with a dash of awkwardness at getting to know her long-lost sisters after being independent for most of her life. But that’s not all, we glimpse a sadness to Paige that stems from her adopted parent’s death in a car wreck when she was a rebellious teenager. In one of the strongest episodes of the season, she journeys back to discover what happened. What she learns is that none of it was not her fault, there was nothing she could do to stop their death. Although she does see that she managed to survive by accidentally orbing out of the car before it crashed and this answers her question of why she didn’t perish. Paige is such a great character that slots into the scheme of things with her stubborn personality and compassion making her relatable, as well as her suspicions that Cole is back to his old self again.
Once more, the cast of Charmed delivers with great performances for all. Alyssa Milano continues to impress in the role of Phoebe and now shows her mature and grounded side. Although she can still be impulsive and still have a sense of fun, having to be the middle sister changes her a lot as she takes on the mediator role between experienced Piper and novice Paige. Milano really sells it all the way, especially in Phoebe’s turn to evil for a time. Phoebe, as have all of her sisters, has at one point or another been taken over by evil and been able to fight it. But this time, she really comes close to becoming a dangerous force of evil. The newest addition to the cast, Rose McGowan, slots in very nicely as Paige. McGowan gives Paige a sense of fun and a compassionate core that manifests itself in her job as a social worker. Paige really has to grow quickly and learn the craft and while she may find it difficult, she shows that she is a talented and powerful third of The Power of Three. Rose McGowan works excellently alongside Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano to create a fresh dynamic within the sisters that grows as the season progresses. Holly Marie Combs exudes the struggle of changing roles as Piper becomes the responsible older one, twinned with a vulnerability. With the moving delivery of Combs, Piper begins to embrace the role and take on the maternal side of her personality. Just like with Phoebe, it is great to see the growth that Piper has gone through and how she is now becoming a commanding person.
Julian McMahon excels at showing Cole being taken over by evil with malicious glee and a sinister smile. There is still a part of the character that loves Phoebe, but it is not enough to overcome the evil that has always been inside of him. Although Brian Krause isn’t given as much to do this season as Leo as he has in previous seasons, he still makes his presence felt with his humane words and guiding spirit aiding the girls. Dorian Gregory portraying Darryl becomes more involved with his protective nature and his deep appreciation of the girls. This is probably the first season in which Darryl faces a lot of the dangers that the girls experience which in turn draws him closer to them. It helps that Gregory is given more material to work with than before and does it excellently. Special mention for this season has to go to Debbi Morgan in her portrayal of The Seer. Sneaky, wise and silver-tongued, she knows exactly what she wants and how to manipulate others to get it. Morgan is clearly having a ball playing this despicable character with her throaty voice and sneaky grins, while adding that sense of mystery surrounding The Seer.
- Charmed Again Part 1- A
- Charmed Again Part 2- A
- Hell Hath No Fury- B+
- Enter the Demon – C-
- Size Matters – D
- A Knight to Remember – B
- Brain Drain – A
- Black as Cole – B-
- Muse to My Ears – B+
- A Paige from the Past – A
- Trial by Magic – D
- Lost and Bound – B+
- Charmed and Dangerous – A+
- The Three Faces of Phoebe – C
- Marry-Go-Round – B
- The Fifth Halliwheel – A
- Saving Private Leo – B-
- Bite Me – B
- We’re Off to See the Wizard – B+
- Long Live the Queen – A
- Womb Raider – B
- Witch Way Now? – B
Fresh, intriguing and often quite moving, Season 4 of Charmed is proof that a show can bounce back after losing a cast member and still be successful.
- Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott
- Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers
- David Arquette as Dewey Riley
- Jamie Kennedy as Randy Meeks
- Rose McGowan as Tatum Riley
- Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis
- Matthew Lillard as Stu Macher
- Drew Barrymore as Casey Becker
Wes Craven’s seminal horror movie of the 90’s that rejuvenated the genre, Scream is a fresh, darkly funny and suspenseful movie that is still a real blast to watch.
The film begins with blonde bombshell Casey Becker answering the phone whilst preparing to watch a slasher flick. The caller soon turns threatening after flirting with her and begins to taunt her into playing a game of horror movie trivia. Her boyfriend is tied up outside and is subsequently gutted when Casey gets an answer wrong. The terrified girl is then stalked by the masked caller who eventually stabs her to death and hangs her body from a tree. Meanwhile, teenager Sidney Prescott is trying to adjust to life with the upcoming anniversary of her mother’s brutal rape and murder. Sidney is also contending with her boyfriend Billy who wants intimacy with her but can’t seem to get close. Sidney’s other friends include the sassy Tatum, movie nerd Randy and goofy Stu. The slaying of Casey and her boyfriend becomes big news in the town of Woodsboro( covered in the news by resident bitch and anchorwoman Gale Weathers and investigated by the not so bright Dewey, a cop and brother of Tatum) with everyone suspecting who the twisted killer could be. All the students are sent home for fear of their safety with a curfew put in place. It soon becomes clear that this killer has watched one too many scary movies as more grisly murders occur and Sidney is seemingly the main target. With the body count rising, will the terrified Sidney be able to survive the encroaching bloodbath? In-jokes to many slasher flicks, inventive and gory deaths and credible performances make Scream a refreshingly excellent exercise in the horror genre.
Wes Craven directs with a flair for the material and perfectly manages to balance the grim and knowing humour with scenes of blood-soaked savagery. The endless list of inventive deaths also breathes fresh life into the generic tropes of the genre, with the chilling opening a clear highlight of terror and suspense. The biggest asset that raises Scream above many horror films is the self-aware script that lampoons conventions and gives the proceedings a jolt of off-kilter humour. The scene in which Randy explains the rules about surviving in a horror movie to other students at a drunken party is both a witty commentary on the repeated formulas of horror movies and a subversive nod to the seen it all attitudes of movie-loving teenagers. Scream also gives us a genuinely creepy villain in the form of Ghostface. With his twisted love of horror movies, chilling games and menacing voice, he is a common fixture on Halloween night and has been imitated countless times in so many movies. Marco Beltrami provides Scream with a spine-chilling score of haunting voices and sinister synths.
A splendid cast encompass their roles with wit and believability. Neve Campbell is emotionally convincing in the role of the terrorized Sidney, who goes from vulnerable girl to strong and resourceful survivor as she is galvanised into fighting back against her masked attacker. Playing the role with quiet conviction and buried strength, Campbell makes for a great heroine of horror that you can root for. Courteney Cox makes a fabulous impression as the ruthless and bitchy Gale, who will do just about anything for a scoop or her name in lights. David Arquette contributes goofy charm to the part of Dewey, who is often clueless on matters of the case. Jamie Kennedy is a hoot as the movie geek Randy, imbuing the part with a nervous and manic energy while Rose McGowan is feisty and sexy as Sidney’s best friend Tatum. Skeet Ulrich is mysterious and slightly menacing as Sidney’s boyfriend Billy and Matthew Lillard is great at playing the slightly hyper Stu. Drew Barrymore makes the opening to Scream memorable as the blonde lovely tormented and eventually butchered by Ghostface.
Hip, witty and above all scary, Scream is a horror movie that shouldn’t be missed.
2000's, Action, Death Proof, Grindhouse, Jordan Ladd, Kurt Russell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Sydney Poitier, Thriller, Tracie Thoms, Vanessa Ferlito, Zoë Bell
- Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
- Rosario Dawson as Abernathy
- Tracie Thoms as Kim
- Zoë Bell
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lee
- Vanessa Ferlito as Arlene
- Sydney Poitier as Jungle Julia
- Jordan Ladd as Shanna
- Rose McGowan as Pam
Quentin Tarantino’s side to the Grindhouse project he worked on with Robert Rodriguez comes in the shape of Death Proof. An homage to splatter movies, muscle cars and the sleazy exploitation movies he watched as a kid, Death Proof isn’t his best movie. But one can’t deny the adrenaline and style of the film that keeps it watchable.
The plot centres around the character of Stuntman Mike, a psychopathic stunt driver who picks up women in his death proof car and murders them in what he covers up as accidents. The film concerns his encounters with two groups of attractive females and the consequences. In the first segment, three female friends, Arlene, Shanna and resident DJ Jungle Julia are driving through Texas looking for a good time. Unbeknownst to them, the predatory Mike has been stalking them. They end up in the same bar together where Arlene performs a seductive lap dance for him for a bet made with her friends. After an intoxicated woman named Pam asks for a ride home, Mike offers her his services in his souped up automobile. Lets just say that things end up quite nasty and blood soaked. A number of months later in Tennessee another group of girls all involved some way with the film industry are travelling. The group consists of make-up artist Abernathy, stunt girls Kim and Zoë and aspiring actress Lee. Stuntman Mike begins to stalk the group but this time the girls are more aware of him. And boy do they fight back with a vengeance. Buckle up and get ready for high-octane shocks from Quentin Tarantino as he paints his homage to 70’s movies with visual flair.
As it mentioned earlier in this review, Death Proof isn’t the best work done by Tarantino. The tone is sometimes uneven and the story lags at various times, but having said that there is still much to praise within this film. The use of distortion to the film to give it that old, worn-out effect works wonders with this type of thriller. Tarantino directs some adrenaline pumping chase sequences that really are thrilling to watch as the second group of girls attempt to play psychopathic Mike at his own twisted game. The stunt work by professional Zoë Bell is hugely impressive throughout her duration on-screen. As is often the case with movies by Quentin Tarantino, the soundtrack is cool and full of grooves from just about every genre going.
Kurt Russell is frighteningly sadistic and strangely charming as Stuntman Mike, really delivering a memorable performance of psychosis and horror. The others who impress out of the cast are Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms and Zoë Bell. They deliver some kick ass attitude and sass that is more than a match for Stuntman Mike’s plans. Rose McGowan has a small but memorable cameo as the rather unfortunate Pam, who accepts the ride with Mike, little realising what he has planned for her. Vanessa Ferlito impresses the most out of the first bunch of girls, with her raunchy dance moves certainly sending temperatures soaring. Mary Elizabeth Winstead however is thoroughly wasted in that she’s given little to actually do.
So all in all, Death Proof isn’t the greatest by Tarantino. But it manages to deliver enough thrills, action and kick ass babes to keep you entertained.
- Rose McGowan as Cherry Darling
- Freddy Rodriguez as El Wray
- Josh Brolin as Block
- Jeff Fahey as J T Hague
- Michael Biehn as Sheriff Hague
- Marley Shelton as Dakota Block
- Naveen Andrews as Abby
Robert Rodriguez’s homage to cheap horror movies of the 70’s comes in the form of Planet Terror, which was released as part of Grindhouse, a collaboration between Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. If it’s substance you’re looking for, turn away now. But if it’s zombie horror, a killer soundtrack and action gore galore, Planet Terror is certainly worth sticking around for.
Cherry Darling is a go-go dancer, sick and tired of her job as she dreams of being a comedienne. She quits her job and finds herself one night in the local diner, where she encounters the enigmatic El Wray. He used to be her lover, but their relationship has cooled. Meanwhile in the rural Texas town, a toxin has been released into the air from a military base nearby. At first nothing happens, but then many of the residents begin developing various side effects and subsequently morph into ravenous zombies. The zombies begin to attack the living causing chaos and a fight for survival. Joining forces with El Wray, the local diner owner, the sheriff, a chemical engineer and a doctor, Cherry leads the fight against the infected, even after she has a leg eaten and replaced with a machine gun. Prepare for kick ass action, copious amounts of blood and grainy visuals as Planet Terror emerges as over the top action in the style of B-movies.
From the opening frames, you know what you’re going to get from Rodriguez. He nails the grainy abrasions that popularised the films of his childhood and adds them to this film in homages which come off rather well, especially in the opening scenes of Cherry’s sexy dance. He even throws in a missing reel with apologies and some sleazy trailers for good measure. The soundtrack is killer, from the grungy guitars to the smoking saxophone, it makes for a rocking listen. Rodriguez directs some pretty great scenes of action as the survivors fight back against the encroaching zombie threat. Gore hounds will lap up the various scenes of zombie hunger and believe me there is a lot of bloodshed in Planet Terror. Where Planet Terror falters is the pacing and some of the humour that doesn’t come off to good. Yet, many watching will barely notice these flaws because of the visuals and kick ass action/horror.
Rose McGowan makes for a fierce, sexy heroine as Cherry Darling and delivers an impressive performance of sassy, kick ass attitude and some great comic timing. Freddy Rodriguez makes for an enigmatic presence as the bad boy, gunslinger El Wray. For the rest of the cast, including Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey and Marley Shelton, they really have fun with their roles in this action/zombie horror. The real star of the show is Rodriguez himself, firmly creating a tongue in cheek horror homage that is for the most part entertaining.
Short on substance but high on octane and visual techniques, whilst also boasting some great action, Planet Terror won’t be to everyone’s taste. But its a good way to spend a couple of hours without having to think a lot.