As a diehard fan of the original series, I’ve had mixed emotions leading up to this premiere, but have remained excited and open-minded to the prospects of a new feminist fantasy series. I was as miffed as anyone to the snub at the original actresses, but have calmed down and embraced the idea of a complete reboot instead of a continuation. The good news? I found the new series tolerable and even enjoyable at times, and while I think they have a lot of rough edges to smooth out, I will be enjoying watching the remainder of the season. That being said, let’s dive into an overly self-indulged analysis of what worked in this premiere, and what could have used some improvement.
I would like to preface what could seem like an overly critical review by saying that I think this premiere was about as good as the show’s original premiere, which I have gone on record as saying that Charmed as a series didn’t come out stellar out of the gate, but took about a season to find its footing and a groove for its characters, where it really started to shine in season 2. I think we have the same situation going on here – a premiere that isn’t as strong as something like This Is Us or Gilmore Girls, but that is a valiant effort and shows a lot of promise…except we have no guarantee that it –will- get better, but we have faith in the cast and will be along for the ride with whatever happens, we’re invested at this point, but we hope they can climb out of the pitfalls of this premiere to give us the show we’ve all been waiting for.
Our first criticism of the show is aimed at the writers and producers trying too hard to pinpoint each sister’s personality. This premiere felt disjointed. You had a strong heavily supernatural opening, and we liked getting to see their mother and her death as she was unbinding their powers, and the end was strong because it left us on a slight cliffhanger that kept our interest piqued for the next episode, but the writing and direction you gave the main cast created a disjointed and near uncomfortable middle section. Mel, Maggie, and Macy all had their assigned “personalities” which got harped on a little too much. That isn’t to say that those traits shouldn’t be there or be highlighted, but it created a harsh contrast one scene to the next when one of the sisters behaves in a complete 180 or leads to characters not being dynamic and becoming boring in certain scenes. Mel has a chip on her shoulder, but it was nice seeing her open up in her scene with Nico to feel more relatable, and then the sisterly scenes gave her an added dimension – if she doesn’t play into the brooding, angry sister role too much we have the opportunity for a very interesting character. Maybe it was the lack of personal scenes or that the other two got a head start and a clearer dynamic to play off of together, but in what almost seemed like an attempt to not have to explore her life and development pre-reunion but Macy’s character felt flat. She is a scientist, we get it, but not only can you not see or identify acid through a microscope, but a microscope phone attachment definitely isn’t getting that job done.
And yes that is a complaint more about the writing of the situation and less about the character, but when the hyper-focus on her being the “smart, science one” becomes so forced that it’s her reasoning behind accepting her powers (“to see how magic works on a molecular level”) and not for the sisterhood, or the greater good, or the power it’s all just a little too much. We don’t have this complaint with Maggie, likely because she was given the most interaction with non-sister characters. Between an ex-boyfriend and the sorority house, and her powers giving us more insight into her thought processes/more to react to we think that her character is a demonstration that the writers CAN make a dynamic character, so we have our hopes up for the coming episodes.
Our other knee-jerk dislike was the writing for Harry. It was a smart way to insert him, by having him replace their mother at the university (and as a guardian figure) but to make their white lighter a bossy man in a show that is actively toting being more “feminist” than the original, we have a lot of hard feelings. He isn’t slowly introduced as a guiding figure or helping hand, or even as a guardian angel—he is literally Giles from Buffy, right down to the accent. Except there’s really doesn’t feel like a mentor relationship, and hopefully, he bonds with the girls more and the uncomfortable dynamic they currently have goes away. He is the center of the cliffhanger plot point driving us to the next episode where the spirit board (presumably their mother communicating) tells them not to trust him. Intrigue! Except *SPOILER* He is present in the IMDB cast rundown for all 13 episodes this season, so don’t expect him to go far.
We also don’t love how overpowered the sister’s already feeling. Mel’s time-stopping power has way too much reached this early in the game, and while we appreciate the explanation that Maggie’s high IQ makes her better at mastering her telekinesis, it still feels a little too strong. Also, it was horribly distracting that they apparently use whatever CGI package that was used for Harry Potter, because instead of orbing Harry looks like he’s apparating, and when the sisters fought their first demon in them cold mist it looked heavily reminiscent to the goblet of fire cemetery scene
On to positives: we loved the incantation not being a basic English rhyme, it actually made things feel a little more supernatural and fits the motif better. Also, the cast of sisters do seem to vibe off each other well when given the chance, so we hope the writers took note of that and adjusted moving forward. The episode felt long and dense with content – the sisters fought three evil beings, ranging from demon to possessed ex-lover, and that is way more than the original pilot gave us, which leads us to believe this iteration will be a little more action and suspense based than character driven…which take that as a positive or negative, because we have mixed views on it. All of that aside, the premiere felt highly watchable and we are excited to see where they take it so we will be tuning in every Sunday at 9 to keep up with the magical menagerie of M named witches.