New ‘Charmed’ has own hints of magic

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For long­time fans of “Charmed,” watch­ing CW’s re­make is an ex­er­cise in keep­ing your cool. In many ways, the new ver­sion of the witchy show is a bas­tardiza­tion, a new se­ries slapped with a fa­mil­iar ti­tle to draw in fans be­fore rudely dis­ap­point­ing them. There are just enough hints of the old one blended in that it’s hard to think of it as an en­tirely new show.

But while the new “Charmed” (Sun­day, 9 EDT/PDT, isn’t much like the old WB drama, it doesn’t mean the new show doesn’t have its own value and su­per­nat­u­ral sto­ries. The world in 2018 is very dif­fer­ent from when “Charmed” first ar­rived in 1998, and the new writer/pro­ducer team of Jes­sica O’Toole, Amy Rardin and Jen­nie Sny­der Ur­man (“Jane the Vir­gin) does a proper job of up­dat­ing the show to blend into a so­ci­ety in the midst of the #MeToo move­ment and more fa­mil­iar with fan­tasy TV. Some of the changes are suc­cess­ful, oth­ers less so.

The setup for the new Power of Three starts with just two: sis­ters Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Mag­gie Vera (Sarah Jef­fery), stu­dents at a lo­cal uni­ver­sity, where their mother Marisol (Va­lerie Cruz) heads the women’s stud­ies de­part­ment. Mel is an ac­tivist fire­brand who sup­ports her mother in try­ing to take down a pro­fes­sor ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. Mag­gie is a bit more su­per­fi­cial, mostly con­cerned with rush­ing a soror­ity. On what seems like a nor­mal night, Marisol calls her daugh­ters home, but they ar­rive to find her dead, ap­par­ently af­ter fall­ing out an at­tic win­dow.

Three months later, sci­en­tist Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Man­tock) ar­rives in town for a new job at the col­lege, dis­cov­ers Mel and Mag­gie, and the three learn they are sis­ters. Shortly af­ter they’re fi­nally all to­gether, they start de­vel­op­ing strange pow­ers – Mel can freeze time, Mag­gie can hear thoughts when she touches peo­ple, and Macy has telekine­sis. They’re given the lowdown on their pow­ers and their witchy re­spon­si­bil­i­ties by Harry (Ru­pert Evans), their new “white lighter,” a guardian an­gel and men­tor (now with a Bri­tish ac­cent).

One of the se­ries’ real weak­nesses is the mish­mash of new mythol­ogy. Sure, the sis­ters are still the “Charmed Ones” and share pow­ers with the orig­i­nal’s Hal­li­well sis­ters, but it’s easy to see that as­pects of the new se­ries have been lifted straight out of other fan­tasy shows.

Un­for­tu­nately, it feels as if the new writ­ers have out­right dis­dain for the source ma­te­rial, so ar­bi­trary and wide­spread are these changes.

Not all of the changes are prob­lem­atic. Match­ing the sis­ters’ fight against de­mons with the #MeToo move­ment and other fem­i­nist protests is a smart move. Set­ting the se­ries on a col­lege cam­pus is an ideal way to bring those so­cial and su­per­nat­u­ral is­sues to­gether.

If the sis­ters (and the writ­ers) can forge their own iden­ti­ties go­ing for­ward and avoid on-the-nose di­a­logue, there may be room for a sec­ond “Charmed” in fans’ hearts. Maybe.

THE CW

Melonie Diaz as Mel, Madeleine Man­tock as Macy and Sarah Jef­fery as Mag­gie on “Charmed.”

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