Sunday, October 14, 2018

REVIEW: 'Charmed' - Macy, Mel and Maggie's Powers are Unlocked When Their Mother is Killed in 'Pilot'

The CW's Charmed - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

After the death of their mother, Mel and Maggie struggle with moving forward but face another huge shock when they learn they have an older sister, Macy. With the emotions of all three sisters running high, each of the girls suddenly exhibit impossible new abilities: Mel can freeze time, Maggie starts hearing others' thoughts and Macy has telekinetic powers. The sisters must make the decision to accept their new destiny as The Charmed Ones - and their new duty to protect humankind from the demons that walk among us.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of The CW's Charmed.

"Pilot" was written by Jessica O'Toole & Amy Rardin and directed by Brad Silberling

The Charmed reboot has already ignited a lot of discussion online in the months since it was first announced. The fans of the original series have already voiced their outrage at The CW for doing a new version of their beloved show. The former stars have also called into question the way the new series has been promoted and marketed with phrasing that makes it seem like what they did didn't matter at all. And yes, this is the question that always comes up with reboots. Revivals are one thing because they are essentially bringing back the cast and team of the original series to tell more stories in that familiar world. Reboots are taking the same premise and trying to do something different with it that can resonate in 2018. As such, the audience also has to gauge how necessary a reboot actually is. Does the creative team actually have a vision that can add to the conversation and legacy of the franchise? Or is it ultimately nothing more than a potential cash grab by the network in the hopes of appealing to fans of the original show or at least people who were familiar enough with it? With Charmed, it absolutely seems like the creative team has a strong new perspective on the idea of three sisters realizing that they are witches. It was updated to include stories about women of color. That means this series can tap into ideas of cultural identity especially with the connotations of witchcraft. Moreover, it can explore what it means to be both angry and a women of color in the world which is something that too few shows are even willing to do in the first place at the moment. This premiere highlights the show is very much politically aware of the current environment. It will continue to appeal to that mindset. But again, there is a difference between understanding stories of female rage and empowerment and just using those topics as buzzwords in order to build up some interest in the storytelling.

The pilot for Charmed isn't perfect. As such, that could lead some fans of the original show to quickly say that it's not as good as what was previously done in this format. That rush to judgment will be quick. And yet, this episode is also very promising. The bond between the three sisters is worthy of exploration. It's a little stiff and awkward in the early going. In fact, it's surprising how Madeleine Mantock is the most natural performer in the cast even though Macy is a complete newcomer to this world. The show already has a solid hook for her identity as a scientist actively exploring the mechanics of witchcraft. Meanwhile, Mel and Maggie appear to be a bit more one-note. They contrast each other as well even though this sisterly bond is full of love. Mel is a passionate feminist who has to learn how to better utilize her anger in order to advance her beliefs. Maggie just wants to rush a sorority and avoid her high school boyfriend. It's significant that their stories ultimately revolve around these demons invading their lives. Again, it seems to be a little forced with the political messaging of pushing back against disgusting men and their abusive behavior. But the foundation is strong for the show to develop into something truly great. But again, that may entirely depend on how the show develops following that premiere ending twist. Marisol unlocked these powers for her daughters. And now, she warns them not to trust Harry - the man who brought them together and continues to look out for them. Does that mean that he knows more than he lets on and is actually part of the threat against the family? Or does it simply mean that the sisters shouldn't trust anyone more than each other? It really could go either way with the show probably playing things cryptically for a little while this season.