I’m going to come out and say this straight away—I love the original Charmed series and wasn’t happy that it was being rebooted. I’m not really a fan of reboots in general, I think that if you have a talented cast and crew, you should try your hand at an original show instead of rebooting a classic show from decades ago.
I also don’t think that a show can be original when it’s premise, no matter how much of it is changed or altered, is riding on the coattails of a successful past show. So with this review, I’m going to compare this pilot with the pilot of the original series:
The show’s premise:
The premise of the original Charmed series according to Wikipedia:
“Charmed focuses on the lives of three Halliwell sisters, Prue, Piper and Phoebe, as they deal with their grandmother’s death and learn that they inherited a little more than the house they grew up in. All three of them have inherited magic powers; Prue has the power of telekinesis, Piper has the power to freeze, and Phoebe has the power of premonition. Together they try to live everyday normal lives in San Francisco, while battling demons and warlocks, and keeping their supernatural identities a secret.”
The premise of the Charmed Reboot according to Wikipedia:
“Set in the fictional college town of Hilltowne, Michigan, the series begins with sisters Mel and Maggie Vera living with their mother Marisol, who shortly afterward is attacked and killed by an unknown demonic force.
Three months later, Mel and Maggie discover that they have an older half-sister, Macy Vaughn, who was kept a secret by their mother for years but recently moved to Hilltowne to accept a new job at the local university. After the first time the sisters are under the same roof, they unexpectedly start exhibiting new magical abilities; the eldest Macy receives the power of telekinesis, middle sister Mel can freeze time, and the youngest Maggie can hear people’s thoughts.
Soon afterward, their whitelighter—an advisor who protects and guides witches—Harry Greenwood, gathers all three sisters together and reveals to them that they are witches, as was their mother. Marisol had bound her daughters’ powers when they were born so they could live normal lives and was in the process of unbinding those powers on the night she was murdered. The sisters ultimately accept their new destiny as the Charmed Ones, the most powerful trio of witches who protect innocents and vanquish supernatural demons.”
So as you can see the premises are similar—both sets of sisters deal with a recent death of a loved one and receive their powers shortly after, and they are trying to balance their magical and everyday lives–however there are also plenty of differences. In the original series, the sisters’ surname was Halliwell and they lived in San Francisco, whilst in this series, the sisters’ surname is Vera, they are latina, and they live in the fictional town of Hilltowne in Michigan. In the original series, the family’s first names started with P, whereas in this series they start with M. In the original series, the sisters’ mother, Patty, died when they were children, whereas in this series, the sisters’ mother, Marisol, dies in the pilot and puts the episode’s chain of events in motion.
The sisters and their powers:
Macy (Prue/Paige)—This character is the biggest difference (character-wise) between this series and the original. In this series, the writers decided to combine the characters of Prue and Paige in the form of Macy. Macy is the oldest sister, yet she is also the abandoned half-sister, who has the power of telekinesis, which is similar to Prue’s version of the power. Macy moves to Hilltowne after she is hired to work for Professor Thaine. Like Paige, she shows up at the sisters’ home unexpectedly and this in turn, leads to the power of three and their individual powers being activated. Why Marisol abandoned her and went on to have and keep Mel and Maggie is yet to be made clear.
Mel (Piper)—Another difference is provided in the form of Mel’s sexuality. While Piper was straight and was the first sister to get married, Mel is a lesbian and was in a relationship with Niko, a local cop. Mel’s freezing power acts the same as Piper’s with the difference being that she doesn’t use her hands at first to use it and it works best when she isn’t angry. Unlike Piper, Mel is the most enthusiastic about embracing her powers and destiny as a witch due to her obsession over Marisol’s death.
Maggie (Phoebe)—The biggest difference in the sisters’ powers comes in the form of youngest sister, Maggie. Instead of premonitions, Maggie’s power is telepathy. Whether this is due to the fact that filming premonitions would take more time and money than doing ADRs hasn’t been made clear by the show’s crew. While she doesn’t have premonitions, her telepathy is somewhat reminiscent of Phoebe’s empathy power, where she could read and feel the emotions of others.
The sisters’ whitelighter:
In the original series, Leo, a doctor who died in World War II when he enlisted as a medic, was the sisters’ whitelighter. Leo posed as the sisters’ handyman and his secret wasn’t discovered until months after his introduction. In this series, Harry, is posing as a Chair and professor of Hilltowne University’s women’s studies department, and died in 1957 whilst working for MI6.
Whilst Harry did provide some great jokes when he was introducing himself to the sisters, I personally felt his character was cheesy and trying too hard. That being said, I enjoyed that he was slightly more straight forward and aggressive than Leo was, and his orbing power isn’t really orbing, in fact it reminds of me more of the disapparating effect from the Harry Potter films. At the end of the episode, Marisol contacts the sisters via the spirit board and tells them not to trust Harry just as he appears to them.
The Charmed destiny:
While this series keeps the Charmed destiny the same—the sisters are the three most powerful good witches of all time and they are destined to save the innocent and fight evil—the ancestry and backstory behind their destiny has been altered. Whilst the Melinda Warren start point is the same, the prophecy focuses on their powers being activated after three signs of the apocalypse show themselves. On an interesting note, in both series, the sisters had to choose to accept their powers and their destiny, however in this series, it has to be a unanimous choice and made within 48 hours. If they didn’t make the obvious choice, anything that happened due to magic would have been undone, including Macy finding Mel and Maggie.
The manor is similar, yet completely different in this series in comparison to the original. On the outside, the manor is completely smaller to how it appears on the inside, in fact the closest thing to a similarity is the attic.
The episode’s premise:
The episode focused on Marisol’s death, clearly caused by evil. Marisol’s death leads to Mel and Maggie meeting their older half-sister, Macy, three months later, and the power of three being activated. Whilst Harry advises them, a puppy demon follows Maggie, although the demon isn’t really a puppy and later possesses Maggie’s ex-boyfriend, Brian. Macy ultimately vanquishes or at least defeats the puppy demon (this isn’t made entirely clear) with a scientific solution, rather than a magical one.
The scientific solution was interesting, however considering it’s a show about witchcraft, I’m hoping this doesn’t happen with every demon or evil they face in the future. Ultimately, the main evil turned out to be Professor Thaine, although his demon identity/name wasn’t revealed. Once the sisters accept their powers and destiny, they are able to vanquish him and avenge Marisol, or so they think, until he tells them he didn’t kill her. The episode ends with Marisol warning the sisters not to trust Harry just as he appears to them.
Overall the premise of the show was established slowly but clearly, however the writing was sloppy on occasion such as when the identity of the puppy demon and Thaine wasn’t revealed and the purpose of the crows wasn’t established. The acting was also cheesy, especially Rupert Evans’, I’m guessing that Harry is supposed to provide comic relief, however it felt like he was trying too hard to be the comic relief.
I’ll give this reboot a chance and I’m hoping it will improve over time, but in all honesty, it’ll never hold a candle to the original series. I feel this show would have been reviewed and received in a positive light if it was an original show about sister witches rather than a Charmed reboot.
-According to Harry, freezing time is a common power amongst witches that are control freaks.
Best one liners:
- “You’re better together, your differences are your strengths and nothing is stronger than your sisterhood.” (Marisol to Mel and Maggie)
- “Your powers are judging you!” (Maggie to Mel)
- “I read it as if my penis had been torn from my body.” (Harry to Mel on her article)