New ‘Charmed’ has own hints of magic
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.
Melonie Diaz as Mel, Madeleine Mantock as Macy and Sarah Jeffery as Maggie on “Charmed.”