A popular, long-lasting series on the WB (now the CW), "Charmed" started off in 1998 and quickly found an audience. The show focuses on the Halliwell sisters - Piper Halliwell-Wyatt (Holly Marie Combs), Prue (Shannen Doherty) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano). In the opening show of the series, the three sisters find themselves together in San Francisco again in the house that they were left by their family. Although the reunion is tense at first, the three sisters eventually come upon the Book of Shadows (not to be confused with the "Blair Witch" sequel) in the attic and, after casting a spell, get the powers that have run through generations of their family - one has telekinesis, one can see the future and the other can stop time.
Although I've never followed the show intensely, I enjoyed watching this third season, as the characters continue to develop, and the writing improves. The trio of actresses also continued to get more into their characters (although the third season was the last season for Shannon Doherty, replaced by Rose McGowan) and their whole situation in this season. Visual effects continue to improve and be respectable, given the TV budget.
The fourth season opened with the girls grieving over Prue and finding a new addition in Paige (Rose McGowan). Although the replacement of a major character could have made the show suffer, McGowan entered the series here and quickly became a solid fit (with good chemistry with the other two leads) and continued to be a solid part of the series until the show ended.
The final season of "Charmed" saw the creators with a difficult task: trying to figure out how to bring the series back after the seventh season was thought to be the show's last. The seventh season finale had essentially closed the door on the characters (the first episode of the series was called "Something Wicca This Way Comes", while the final episode of the seventh was called, "Something Wicca This Way Goes.")
"Still Charmed and Kicking" starts the eighth season with the three leads presumed dead - but revealed to be alive and have taken on new identities. While their outward appearances have changed to the rest of the world, they are still the three original leads in most scenes. While the three witches have taken on new identities, it's not long before their enemies are attempting to lure them out of hiding for another fight. They are joined this season by Billie (Kaley Cuoco, of "8 Simple Rules") as Billie, a young witch who starts off as a friend, but who turns into a foe later in the season. Despite some budget cuts that were required for the 8th season to go forward, the series still remains quite entertaining here, as the quality of the writing and acting is still solid and Cuoco makes a good addition to the cast.
Note: the back of the box notes that some episodes have been edited (possibly syndicated versions) and some songs have been taken out (music rights issues.)
157. 8- 1 25 Sep 05 Still Charmed & Kicking
158. 8- 2 2 Oct 05 Malice in Wonderland
159. 8- 3 9 Oct 05 Run, Piper, Run
160. 8- 4 16 Oct 05 Desperate Housewitches
161. 8- 5 23 Oct 05 Rewitched
162. 8- 6 30 Oct 05 Kill Billie: Vol. 1
163. 8- 7 6 Nov 05 The Lost Picture Show
164. 8- 8 13 Nov 05 Battle of the Hexes
165. 8- 9 20 Nov 05 Hulkus Pocus
166. 8-10 27 Nov 05 Vaya Con Leos
167. 8-11 8 Jan 06 Mr. & Mrs. Witch
168. 8-12 15 Jan 06 Payback's A Witch
169. 8-13 22 Jan 06 Repo Manor
170. 8-14 12 Feb 06 12 Angry Zen
171. 8-15 19 Feb 06 The Last Temptation of Christy
172. 8-16 26 Feb 06 Engaged and Confused
173. 8-17 16 Apr 06 Generation Hex
174. 8-18 23 Apr 06 The Torn Identity
175. 8-19 30 Apr 06 The Jung and the Restless
176. 8-20 7 May 06 Gone With The Witches
177. 8-21 14 May 06 Kill Billie: Vol. 2
178. 8-22 21 May 06 Forever Charmed
VIDEO: "Charmed" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio here. The picture quality is about broadcast quality, with adequate sharpness and definition. The show's "look" seems to be intentionally slightly soft, but there's also some noticable grain present that seems to take away from the detail.
Some minor pixelation was present at times during the episodes, along with the previously mentioned grain. On a positive note, there was no wear (specks, marks, etc) present and the picture seemed free of edge enhancement. Some minor shimmering was spotted, but pretty rarely. Colors seemed warm and well-rendered, with nice saturation and no smearing. There did not seem to be any difference in image quality between the third season and prior seasons.
SOUND: "Charmed" is presented in Dolby 2.0. The audio seemed fine, with clear dialogue, effects and music. The audio track isn't particularly full or dynamic, but it is adequate.
EXTRAS: While previous seasons of "Charmed" have offered no supplemental features, it's a pleasant surprise to find this set packed with quite a few extras. While the three "Charmed" sisters were not able to be called in to comment on episodes, we do get commentaries for a few of the episodes. "Still Charmed and Kicking" offers comments from exec producer Brad Kern, actress Kaley Cuoco and co-exec producer and director James Conway; "Vaya Con Leos" offers comments from Kern and actors Brain Krause and Cameron Litvack and the finale, "Forever Charmed", offers comments from Kern and Conway. Cuoco is a lot of fun, joking about some of the outfits she had to wear and her scenes, while also providing some good chat about her thoughts about coming aboard the series. The Conway and Kern do provide some solid insights, as well, talking about the budget issues (the show's budget was cut for season 8), trying to reboot the series for the final season, costumes, working with the actors and more.
The final disc also offers up, "The Making of Charmed", which is an 18-minute overview of the overall production. The piece starts with a discussion from exec producer E. Duke Vincent, who has worked with the late exec producer Aaron Spelling on more than 40 shows. This, says Vincent, was the most difficult series he's worked on due to the visual effects. Exec producer Brad Kern discusses how the "road map" for the season (the story arcs) are developed, then how specific subplots are ironed out for the various episodes of the season. The doc then offers a discussion of the pre-production process (such as thoughts on creature/make-up work.) The piece then moves into a discussion of costumes, sets, stunt work, visual effects and more.
"Story of Charmed: Genesis" and "Story of Charmed: Charmed Again" make up a 2-part documentary that runs a total of a little under 40 minutes. The documentary is a discussion of the show's storylines and how they were developed, as well as a chat about some of the changes and developments over the years. It ends with a set of sweet and genuine comments about the pride that the creators and actors (while the three leads do not participate in the commentaries, they do appear in this 2-part doc) have in their creation and the deep sadness of ending the series and breaking up the "family" that the set had become.
"To the Manor Born" is a tour of the main manor set on the series, pointing out where some of the main events that happened over the series occured. Finally, "Forever Charmed" is a short featurette that offers comments from the show's fans and creators about the elements of the show that appealed to them.
Final Thoughts: Despite some budget cuts that were required for the 8th season to go forward, the series still remains as entertaining here, as the quality of the writing and acting is still solid. The DVD set unfortunately does have some edits (episode and music), but the set does have fine audio/video quality and a solid set of supplemental features. Recommended for fans looking to complete their collection.