“We are the protectors of the innocent. We are The Charmed Ones.”
It’s no coincidence that both the original shows of Charmed and MacGyver are starting to be released on the Blu-ray format. Both shows have been rebooted for television, and that means they’re counting on fans of the original to become the foundation for a new base of fans. The best way to do that is to remind you why it is that you loved the shows in the first place. The best way to remind you is to dangle a little bait. That bait is the release of both shows on Blu-ray starting with their first seasons. Will it last? I don’t know. It will depend on a combination of sales of the releases and how long the new shows manage to stick around themselves. Neither of these reboots are setting the ratings on fire, but there appear to be enough viewers to keep them on the air for second seasons. Sure, it’s a bit of a marketing stunt, but that doesn’t make it a bad deal at all. Fans of the original Charmed have been asking me about Blu-ray releases for years. So it’s a win-win here.
Charmed graced our television screens for eight seasons and 179 episodes. It was a nice combination of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Sisters or Touched By An Angel. The pilot finds three sisters who have just lost their grandmother who took care of them for most of their lives. While cleaning out the attic, they discover an ancient book that is filled with odd pages of spells. It’s called The Book of Shadows, and now everything in their lives is about to change.
It appears the sisters are descended from a long line of witches. The family contained three powers that were prophesized to eventually come to power in three sisters who would join together to become The Charmed Ones and charged with the duty to protect the innocent and not use the powers for self-gain. Now they must deal with this discovery together but learn on the fly. It seems that there is an entire world of demons and other evil creatures out there that want the book, and even worse, want to take their powers. And while the new witches might love to give away the powers, it comes at their deaths.
Pru Halliwell is played by Shannen Doherty. She’s considered herself the responsible sister and is the oldest. She is telekinetic. The power is often triggered by anger and hand movements which she has to learn to control. In the first season she gets a job at an auction house where she evaluates items to auction. She has a background as an appraiser from a museum but quit when her boss was working her to death and stealing the credit. Unfortunately, the auction house was run by a couple of demons who were setting her up to take the powers and the book away from the sisters. She also starts dating a detective named Andy, played by Ted King. She’s trying to keep her secret, but he notices that she appears to show up on some of the oddest cases. Their storyline will be a somewhat tragic one.
Piper Halliwell is played by Holly Marie Combs and is the mellow, soft-spoken sister. She’s a trained chef and manages the bar and restaurant Quake, where the sisters often gather for business or fun. Her power is that she can freeze time in the room where she is. The sisters remain free while everyone else is frozen. Eventually she learns to control unfreezing the room, but often it happens when she least expects it. She’s the heart of the group and tries to keep the peace. She’s also a little too trusting, and that’s going to get her in trouble.
Phoebe Halliwell is played by Alyssa Milano and is the youngest of the sisters. She has recently rejoined the sisters in San Francisco from New York. Her power is that she can see visions of the future and eventually into the past. She’s the irresponsible sister who can’t stop acting on her impulses and blindly sails into trouble. She’s a bit guy-crazy and is a sucker for a cute guy in tight pants. It’s another thing that gets her in trouble. She’s the least prepared for her role, and while her heart’s in the right place, she doesn’t always do the right thing.
This is a learn-on-the-job kind of show. It’s set up so that we learn about this world right along with the sisters. Each week there’d be some new demon trying to kill them, steal their powers or the book, or just all three. That’s the Charmed hat trick.
Someone on the show was definitely a fan of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. There are two episodes in the first season that are complete copies of Night Stalker episodes. One involves a demon that drains youth from victims using a dating service, just as happened on The Night Stalker. Another has a participant in a dream study literally dreaming people to death, just as happened on Kolchak. I doubt these are coincidences.
The season has them going back in time to see their mother and grandmother as well as the kid versions of themselves. They do a version of The Ghost Whisperer when Piper falls for a ghost who needs her to solve his murder and get a message to his mother. They even do a Groundhog Day episode where only Phoebe appears to understand the day is repeating. This episode also features a guest role by David Carradine, who plays a demon that resets time so another demon can learn from his mistakes as he tries to kill all three sisters.
The show would change over the years. After three years Doherty was having real trouble getting along with the cast and crew, a problem she’s suffered on more than one production. The tension got strong enough that she was asked to leave, and the show slightly retooled to keep The Power Of The Three intact.
You get all 22 episodes on five discs.
Each episode is presented in new HD aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The show is a little dated in the first season, but not so much as we go through the eight seasons. It’s obvious here that some of the frames were distorted a little to achieve the wide presentation. In other spots the frame is zoomed a bit to make everything wide. It’s a fairly good job that will only be a complaint for the tough purist fans. Otherwise colors and black levels are pretty good. There are some focus issues that I assume are part of the zoom issue. These look much better than the DVD’s, and I do consider them an upgrade worth the money if you like the show.
The DTS 2.0 track is about as basic as it gets. This was television before surround hit that medium. It’s there to serve the dialog, and that’s exactly what you should expect, because that’s exactly what you get. It’s clean and clear, and that works for me.
There are no bonus features.
This is one of those cases of speak now or forever hold your peace. Fans might be tempted to hold out for a complete series deal or for prices to drop. That’s not going to work here. It’s a risk to bring this out on Blu-ray for CBS. They are going to gauge any future releases by the sales of this one. Future seasons are not guaranteed. I suggest you bite the bullet and lay out the cash now if you want the complete series in high definition. Who knows what the sales figures turn out to be. CBS will be paying attention. “This should be very interesting.”