Melonie Diaz, Madeleine Mantock and Sarah Jeffery lead the reboot. Credit: YouTube (TVPromos)Like many loyal, long time fans of the 1998 Charmed series, I too was apprehensive about watching the reboot of my beloved favourite show. Was 20 years enough time to let the dust settle on one of the most popular shows of its time? I was willing to find out.
Setting: After diving into the first episode, I felt like I was finally home upon returning to the manor of the Charmed ones. Despite it no longer being the long-time hearth of the Halliwell’s, the Vera & Vaughn sisters more than fill the void left in their stead. The manor is perhaps the most important aspect of the story for both old and new Charmed. It provides the setting for most of the witchy going-ons of the sisters. Fans will be happy to see attention has been paid by the set dressers, and the layout of the manor being extremely familiar.
Yet, the shows home is not an exact replica. It offers a delicate balance of homage to the point of recognition, but still enough freshness to keep from boring the original fans. It’s essentially brought the magical menagerie into the modern age. The same goes for the sisters: Mel, Macy and Maggie.
Characters & cast: They are the three sisters. It’s no longer Pure, Piper and Phoebe, (or Paige), instead their names begin with ‘M’, a choice that was probably deliberate considering this is a reboot and not a remake. One change that fans may notice is that the three main characters are played by actresses who are women of colour. In addition, the middle sister Mel is also an out and proud lesbian who is dating an Asian Police Officer, Niko.
The CW, which airs the show stateside, is demonstrating how firmly it stands with diversity in its representation, as not only are the main characters women of colour, they are also all unapologetically feminist. People may argue that the original Charmed ones were also feminist, however they were feminist at a period of time on television and in history where they carefully acted in slightly feminist ways, but it was still forbidden to say the word on screen for fear of repercussions (I can provide sources if required).
SPOILERS: The story (so far): From the first episode, the writers are keen to show that they aren’t pulling any punches when it comes to the content of their revival. Whilst the original sisters and the new ones both experience the death of their mother (Prue, Piper and Phoebe’s mother died while they were much younger), Maggie, Mel and Macy are faced with it in the first episode. With the death of their mother, this means that the binding spell that hid their powers from them for years is released.
This small change in detail makes more sense compared to what happened in the original first episode of the show ‘Something Wicca this way Comes’, where Phoebe simply reads the opening page of the books of shadows and abracadabra, they have their powers. The powers bestowed upon the wiccan women stay the same, for now. If you remember from the older show, the sisters unlocked more powers as the series progressed.
Their initial powers were telekinesis for Prue, freezing time for Piper, and premonition for Phoebe. Macy, the eldest still receives telekinesis, and Mel the middle child still receives the ability to freeze time. What differs here is that instead of premonition, the youngest sibling is an empath, who feels emotions through touch.
Personally, one of the most delighting moments of the first episode was the introduction of the new white lighter, Harry. He’s a complete character overhaul from the original guardian angel of the sisters, Leo, but by no means a lesser character for it. If anything, having him as a stuffy English dude with a penchant for tea is an amusing and welcome quirk. Yet, by the end of the first episode, all is not as it seems when, through the family Ouija board, a being assumed to be the girls’ mother tells the sisters not to trust their new guide and mentor. This is also a direct reference to how the Ouija board communicates to the charmed ones originally, leading them to their powers.
If you want to find out if Harry is good or bad though, I highly recommend watching the second episode, and the rest of the series so far. It’s so popular in the US, that it’s already been picked up for a second season, and I personally cannot wait!
Charmed airs on E4 and All4 in the UK.