Descriptions for episodes are again taken from Unwelcome Commentary: Charmed. Count your blessings that they never produced a musical episode of Charmed!
#10. “Soul Survivor” from Season Six
Paige’s obnoxious temp jobs have driven at least one fugly subplot in every episode this season, but the story that unfolds here more resembles the quality of “Love’s a Witch” than, say, the dog-walker thing. It’s a story that lacks any of the originality or depth of the Montana/Callaway feud, but it’s an absorbing diversion nonetheless. Being Charmed season six, the writers cop out instead of exploring the idea of free-will and whether the souls should be interfered with at all, but at least the first twenty minutes of the story work.
#9. “Hulkus Polkus” from Season Eight
Parts of this episode were fresh and interesting, notably the idea of government experiments and demonic viruses. It was like Charmed meets X-Files, and I kind of enjoyed it. It did stick out like a sore thumb, though, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is a script from a new writer. Even though “Hulkus Pocus” falls back on ridiculous costumes and butch stuntwomen, there were actual ‘ideas’ here that felt pretty inventive, clearly something from the mind of a writer who hasn’t been rapidly lobotomized from spending too long in the Charmed writers room.
#8. “Nymphs Just Wanna Have Fun” from Season Five
Aaaaagggggghhhhhhhllrlrrraaaarr! This is another masterpiece of suck. Similarly to Shannen Doherty’s emotional investment rapidly shattering to pieces back in season three’s “Once Upon a Time,” you can just about spot Rose McGowan’s soul packing up its bags and fleeing the set for a vacation home in Cabo right around the moment where she dances around in a fountain with two morons in fugly green satin. Seriously, whose wheaties did Rose pee in to get saddled with this material? Like getting groiny with a bunch of leprechauns just two weeks ago wasn’t bad enough? “Nymphs Just Wanna Have Fun” is the total nadir of the series. God, even that title is hideous.
#7. “Mr. & Mrs. Wicth” from Season Eight
When folks call season eight ‘The Billie Show’, “Mr. & Mrs. Witch” is the most notorious example of the writers thrusting her center stage and producing terrible results. This is even more worthless than average ‘bad Charmed‘, all about a bunch of day players we barely know and featuring one of the most tiring central storylines in years. Billie, for ridiculously contrived and nonsensical reasons, is investigating corporate America to find Christy, and if “The Demon Who Came in from the Cold” taught us anything, it’s that sleeping pills are no match for a Charmed episode about corporate America.
#6. “Sword And The City” from Season Six
As season six continues, it’s become more apparent how tired Charmed has become. Most of the episodes this year have settled back on familiar ideas — usually involving possession of some kind, the sisters being taken over by evil, or the purging of old stories that everybody is already accustomed with. Everything’s become pretty predictable, and only Holly Marie Combs seems to be having fun anymore.
#5. “Enter the Demon” from Season Four
Body swaps in genre television work best when both actors take on the ‘quirks’ of each other’s performances, showcasing their awareness of their co-star’s skills, and replicating them in an absorbing way. Body swaps also work in exploring some kind of psychological trauma, the idea of a character wanting to ‘become’ somebody else in order to cover up their own shortcomings. Charmed‘s version, in which Phoebe and Paige swap bodies, is a little weak not only because their relationship hasn’t reached that point where it’s actually interesting to see them inhabit each other’s bodies, but also because Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan aren’t great performers. Alyssa plays Paige with the same ridiculous baby voice she used in “Once Upon a Time” last season, while Rose displays the same tics and gestures she always has, even when playing a completely different character. Ugh. A story like this needs some extra attention from the actors, and they kind of failed entirely here.
“Enter the Demon”‘s A-story is pretty much Charmed-by-numbers. It’s filled with annoying Mulan-esque ramblings about ‘true Zen masters’ and ‘keen warriors’, and it’s all shot in a stereotype-ville sound stage with a ton of bamboo. All the guest actors speak in that annoying ‘reactionary statement’ way where they’re literally just reading from a script, not actually attempting to create an interesting ‘being’. That faux-Michelle Yeoh (or should that be Michelle Faux? -Rimshot-) is the worst. Ugh.
#4. “Battle of the Hexes” from Season Eight
It’s easy to look back at vintage Charmed through rose-tinted glasses, especially in light of the steaming piles of wet poop being thrust in our collective faces this season. But the Prue years certainly weren’t perfect. Remember the teeth-pulling Dan/Leo love triangle? Lovestruck owls? Jenny Gordon? But in spite of all that, the one thing that kept you coming back to this show was the chemistry between the sisters and the believable interaction between absorbing characters. They were certainly flawed individuals, but their flaws rang true, and the Halliwell sisters were fun to be around. I bring all this up because what was once the show’s saving grace has long vanished. I dislike everybody right now. Paige is a moron, Piper is angry all the time, and Phoebe is eternally wrapped up in her quest for semen…
#3. “My Three Witches” from Season Six
“Today we’re going to be talking about the five-minute orgasm”. What a wonderful opening line. I can’t remember the last time I wanted to bash myself over the head with a fire truck within four seconds of a TV show starting up. My Three Witches resurrects that tried-and-tested Charmed formula that’s become even more tiring than the whole ‘sister possessed by evil’ trope, with the Halliwells trapped in alternate realities where their deepest desires are fulfilled. Cut to Piper in a world without magic (the words ‘normal life’ automatically put me into a coma), Paige in a world where magic is freely accepted, and Phoebe in a world where she’s super-famous and everybody loves her. Naturally.
#2. “The Bare Witch Project” from Season Seven
Jesus. Try and be serious sometimes, sure, but don’t try and lecture about feminism, show. It only comes off as crass and cheap in equal measure. “The Bare Witch Project” is an asinine hour already, but what really destroys any potential merit is the script’s attempt to discuss important issues. This is an episode where Lady Godiva is depicted as the defining female voice throughout the history of time, every act of femme power somehow tracing back to her. In the minds of the writers, this ends up meaning that women are only listened to when they’re naked, one of the weirdest ‘messages’ this show has ever put across. Even weirder, Phoebe herself takes all her clothes off in protest — instead of using her celebrity or city-wide readership to make a stand. It’s one of the stupidest episodes of Charmed.
#1. “A Witches Tail” from Season Five
So we enter ‘part two’ of Charmed, the half that is almost insufferably shitty. Okay, that’s maybe a little unfair. But most of the series did blow chunks from here on out. “A Witch’s Tail Part 1” isn’t totally heinous, but it really promotes the ‘new’ Charmed’s mission statement: More revealing costumes! More whining! More cribbing of existing source material! Gah. So we have another exploration into some kind of magical mythology, this time mermaids. And being Charmed part two, Alyssa Milano is thrown into a cleavage-revealing ensemble midway through the hour. Once more, gah!
Less interesting than its predecessor, primarily because there isn’t a huge amount of story to tell. Phoebe’s mermaid escapades are most evident of this, with various sequences of Alyssa lazing around on rocks and getting caught up in fish nets. I guess the interview with Nancy O’Dell was funny, but the story bottomed out long before the credits rolled. Cole’s involvement produces some interesting moments (I liked his interaction with Paige), but it still feels like the show is exploiting a tired story arc since there’s so little new to say.