The Best and Worst of Charmed: Season 6

 

One of the characters I couldn’t help but notice was Richard Montana, a love interest of Paige. His family was a feud with their neighbors, the Callaways. This bears similarity to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Richard’s struggle with magic is also similar to two different characters from others series: Willow Rosenberg of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Morgana Pendragon of Merlin.

Additionally, this season sees the departure of Eric Dane of X-Men: The Last Stand played Jason Dean, a love interest of Phoebe’s.

Jennifer Sky of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Cleopatra 2525 played Mable Stillman in The Power of Three Blondes. This role is more on par with Cleo than Amarice, sadly.

Gildart Jackson of Stargate: Atlantis played Gideon, Leo Wyatt’s mentor and of the Council of Eldars.

 

The Best:

Love’s a Witch, My Three Witches, Sword and the City, Chris Crossed, Witchstock, Used Karma, The Legend of Sleep Halliwell, I Dream of Phoebe, The Courtship of Wyatt’s Father, Crimes and Witch Demeanors, Witch Wars, and It’s A Bad Bad Bad Bad World

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  • Love’s a Witch introduces the character, Richard Montana, and is quite unoriginal in the Romeo & Juliet sort of way;

  • My Three Witches sees the Charmed Ones live out fantasies in alternate realities. Desperate Housewives‘ Kathryn Joosten guest stars;

  • Sword and the City, featuring Edward Atterton (The Man in the Iron MaskFirefly), this episode has it’s origins in Arthurian lore;

  • Chris Crossed remains my favorite episode of the season, finally explaining to the audience who Chris really is;

  • Witchstock, featuring Jake Busey (Contact, Starship Troopers), this episode sees the Charmed Ones go back in time to when Grams was a flower child;

  • Used Karma sees Phoebe get possessed by the spirit of Mata Hari;

  • The Legend of Sleep Halliwell sees the introduction of Gideon, and Magic School;

  • I Dream of Phoebe sees Phoebe becoma genie;

  • The Courtship of Wyatt’s Father sees Piper and Leo get sent to the Ghostly Plane where they make Chis Perry happen;

  • Crimes and Witch Demeanors sees the Charmed Ones put on trial;

  • Witch Wars gets it’s idea from reality TV, namely competitive forms of this; and,

  • It’s A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World is very extreme in it’s function.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Love’s a Witch:

Another episode that isn’t actually as terrible as I had remembered it being. Love’s a Witch opens as a shallow Romeo and Juliet pastiche, but slowly becomes something heavier and more exciting. The episode has a distinctly soapy sensibility with the dueling families, potty-mouth grandma and a vengeful dead wife, but it’s played in a way that feels kind of genuine and real. And unlike the season one trainwreck The Wedding from Hell, which had a similar tone, the sisters play an active part in the saga, and the guest stars don’t bug.

This is the writing debut of Angel vet Jeannine Renshaw, and while I was never hugely enamored with her over on that show, she adds a lot of depth to Olivia Callaway’s story, giving her a purpose and drive that we can actually understand on a human level. I also loved her plan to entomb Richard in her own coffin. That was all pretty cool. The story veers into traditional Charmed territory when Paige is possessed by her spirit, but Rose McGowan is always pretty convincing when playing these seductive femme fatales, so it didn’t frustrate me this time around.

What unfortunately drags the episode downhill is everything else. Phoebe’s empathy continues to be one of the most annoying things in the show’s history, granting her more opportunities to thrust herself center stage and whine about everybody around her. Chris and Leo’s subplot is still boring me to tears, and I have no idea why Piper is dating already. Especially dating some tool with frosted highlights. Ugh. But generally Love’s a Witch is pretty absorbing, if you skip through the garbage elsewhere.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of My Three Witches:

“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.

All three realities are thinly drawn, something that makes the fact they take up the far majority of the episode sort of mystifying. Everything seems a little random, too, from the way the sisters can blur into each other’s fantasies, to the various incidences this week of the sisters ignoring any personal gain side-effects to their spells.

My Three Witches lurches from one misfiring set piece to another, from the crummy talk show set to the male stripper scene to that ugly CGI explosion at the end. I guess Desmond Askew is fine, if another melodramatic Brit villain, but My Three Witches fails to explore anything fresh or interesting, settling on preexisting ideas and calling it a new episode.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Sword and the City:

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.

There’s obviously some superficial enjoyment to be had from the Camelot story, notably Piper in her black leather ensemble and her own initial frustration at how ridiculous the whole thing is. But it quickly becomes pretty flat, with a demon wanting to unite the underworld and Piper being briefly seduced into evilness. Blah. And did they have to cast two guest actors who look exactly the same? At one point I assumed Morduant and the Dark Knight were going to be revealed as the same person, but it turned out they onlylooked like identical twins…

Phoebe and Paige’s subplot is just as contrived as most of the other material they’ve been saddled with this year. Phoebe’s all nervous because Richard is using magic, which itself goes against what Richard himself was saying only a couple of episodes ago, and she worries that he’ll become consumed by it. Note the irony that this is coming from the same woman who defended Cole against Paige’s similar rantings back in season four. Both girls are entirely awful. The story doesn’t really go anywhere interesting, and Richard is another in a long line of charisma-free boyfriends for the Charmed Ones.

This is the kind of episode that I’m sure has its fans, but Sword and the City is just too goofy for me — the lake lady, the Monty Python outfits, the same damn story over and over again. Boring.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Chris Crossed:

One of the things Charmed rarely invested in during its later years was a real sense of mythology, something that extends the dimensions of the series and creates more personal antagonists for the sisters to face off against. If there’s one thing season six could be praised for, it’s the decision to expand the show’s universe a little, this week introducing an elaborate past/future mystery where both the morals of key Charmed characters and the fate of the earth are threatened. Of course, being this show, the story rests on the shoulders of an actor who gives new meaning to the word ‘vacant’, and is filled with flying cars, weirdly British evil siblings and doomed future-wives in dominatrix leather. But at least it’s progress.

There’s a lot wrong with this episode, but the future scenes help create a scope that has previously eluded the show, tying characters together in this headache-inducing soap opera saga full of duplicity and intrigue. It’s not actually as interesting on screen as it sounds on paper, but the story is pretty absorbing and sets the groundwork for what could be a fascinating arc plot.

Back in the present day, it’s business as usual. In that everything is pretty awful. One of the driving stories here is that both Paige and Phoebe want to move out of the Manor to be with their new BFs. What bugs me is that this major decision is treated so casually, at least compared to the season three masterpiece Prewitched that tread similar ground. I don’t know, this just didn’t work for me.

Similarly repulsive is Elise’s little pep talk with Phoebe, where she warns her about pursuing her career instead of pursuing men — since she’s a lonely spinster who may appear to be successful and wealthy, but is in actual fact secretly crying out for the touch of a handsome stranger. It’s casual misogyny of the worst kind, especially on a show that’s supposed to be about strong women. Gah.

But, generally, Chris-Crossed is a step in the right direction. As tedious as Chris, Leo and Wyatt are, the story is generating a kind of energy that has been pretty much absent this season so far. If only everything wasn’t so goofy, though…

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Witchstock:

Previous journeys into the past or future have created some wonderful character-driven drama — there was the sisters’ reunion with Patty back in That ’70s Episode, a time when death was treated as pretty finite on this show. Then there was Morality Bites, a gorgeous commentary on cause-and-effect that showcased the strong bond between Piper, Prue and Phoebe. Even weaker time-travel episodes like All Halliwell’s Eve had certain deeper elements that affected the sisters on a personal level. One of the numerous reasons why Witchstock entirely blows is that it has no emotional pay-off. It’s not engineered to allow Paige some character growth, nor does it help her strike a deeper bond with Grams. Instead it’s a messy ‘wouldn’t it be cool if this happened’ hour, with the sisters winding up in the most stereotypical 1960’s imaginable and facing off against a rent-a-demon who wants to kill a bunch of people and get hold of the Nexus. Booooring.

The most glaring annoyances here are the huge continuity errors, things any decentCharmed fan will find distracting. There’s Allen being written as Grams’ first and only husband, there’s Grams clearly being played by a twenty-something in 1967, just eight years before the events of That ’70s Episode — where Grams is clearly an elderly woman with two young grand-daughters. And where’s Patty in all of this? It feels like an entirely different universe, written by people who have never seen the show and have absolutely no respect for preexisting mythology. Supposedly Witchstock was originally written with Patty as the central character of the ’60s story, but the fact that Daniel Cerone just maneuvered a couple of things around and ran with it shows just how little the writers care about the audience and the series itself. I’m probably sounding all preachy, but it’s just so weak.

Similarly weak is the present day story with Chris, Leo and Grams battling some demonicFlubber as it consumes the house. Tacky special effects and a wasted Jennifer Rhodes: what less could you ask for? Witchstock is an insulting trainwreck of an episode that makes little sense and features some of the most misfiring comedy in the history of this show. Ugh.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Used Karma:

I mentioned it a couple of weeks back, but Charmed needs a radical resurgence of energy.Used Karma follows the exact same pattern as almost every other episode from this period, from the scenery-chewing villains and their doomed plans to kill the Halliwells, to one of the sisters getting possessed by some evil spirit. Even more specific tropes are getting repeated. How many times have we seen demons attacking the manor, injuring two of the sisters and kidnapping the third? There’s a basic level of ‘been there, done that’ which has crept into nearly every corner of this show, and it’s pretty shameful that none of the writers ever sat back and thought, “you know what, we can do something better”.

There’s also a lethargy that’s pretty noticeable in the performances here. Alyssa Milano, parading around in some garish pink atrocity, seems entirely bored throughout and garbles all of her French lines. Holly, too, seems to be phoning it in. Although she is pregnant, so I guess she has an excuse. But this is Charmed on auto-pilot, everybody cashing their check and determined to project as little emotional investment as possible.

Used Karma sees the exit of Jason Dean, and while you understand his motives for leaving Phoebe, it’s hard to actually give a damn. The fundamental ingredient that a TV relationship needs is some form of chemistry, or at least writing that manages to put across a real spark between two characters. So many of the sister’s love interests in the later years only seemed there because the show thought Phoebe and Paige neededboyfriends. And while Jason’s been around for a while, his and Phoebe’s relationship has only ever been surface. They make out a lot and we’re repeatedly told through dialogue how hot they are for each other, but there’s so little depth it’s embarrassing.

The same thing is happening with Richard and Paige. Despite the fact that it’s being written as some huge relationship with Paige actually moving in with him, it still feels hollow — the two of them not displaying any real chemistry or banter. And despite the weird ‘magic addiction’ thing, Richard himself remains a cipher.

Used Karma is another shit-show, one of the most obvious depictions of all ofCharmed’s recent problems. The Mata Hari story isn’t fresh or interesting, the demons even less so, and all the performances and characters feel phony and tired. Nice work by Eric Dane, but even he can’t salvage such a weak character.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell:

Ugh. Magic School. The most overt of the latter day knock-offs this show employed, Magic School’s not only entirely illogical, it’s also the one Charmed concept that just wouldn’t go away. Whoever decided to make it a long-term deal should probably be horrifically maimed.The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell is one of those episodes with a decent central conceit that is quickly petered away by weak writing — leaving only a couple of annoying set pieces designed to show off the headless Halliwell sisters. It’s weak all-round.

Piper is still whining about wanting a normal life for Wyatt, despite having ruled out binding his powers until he comes of age. I don’t understand this woman anymore. Similarly, why the hell is Magic School only being mentioned now? Wouldn’t it be in the Book of Shadows if thirty-something vision-quest-lady was a former student? And wouldn’t Leo have at least mentioned it when Piper first fell pregnant, especially since he’s best buds with the principal? Gah. Once again, the writers express total disdain for their audience, comfortable to pull everything out of their collective butts.

While all this is happening, Paige is stuck in some low-rent Dangerous Minds riff, teaching a bunch of horrible magic teens. Everything here is awful. From the nerd with the apple to the ghetto chump who sits on tables because he’s just so damn ‘edgy’. He’s also named Slick, because this show is increasingly terrible.

I guess there are some amusing moments here, while Phoebe’s vision quest is both visually gorgeous and finally gives the dead-in-the-water Chris arc some forward momentum. But, generally, too much of the episode blows. The headless horseman story isn’t as present as you’d imagine, Magic School bugs, and most of the acting is contrived. Is this season done yet?

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of I Dream of Phoebe:

Like last season’s Sense and Sense Ability, this is an episode that really shouldn’t work, yet somehow ends up being ridiculously entertaining. This is mostly due to Saba Homayoon, who is hilarious at the beginning with her comedy accent and mugging, and then convincingly bad-ass when she’s revealed as a demon. Even throwing Alyssa Milano into a stupid get-up doesn’t wreck the whole thing, presumably since the show allows the characters to reference how silly everything is.

However, it’s a little disappointing that the resolution to the genie A-plot is riddled with plotholes. How can Leo heal the dead? Why didn’t Paige and Phoebe’s spirits ‘move on’? Why didn’t Balthazar Getty wear the Barbara Eden ensemble, too? But, generally, the story works, saved by a bunch of performers with real conviction.

Letting Phoebe in on the secret has given Chris’ arc some necessary dimensions, which is welcome. It’s episode fifteen, so it’s about damn time. I don’t get why Piper is back in the dating pool, but Chris’ whole ‘gotta get my parents to copulate in the next couple of days’ thing has finally granted him some real purpose on the show. Too much of the season has involved him sniping with Leo and talking to random guest stars in dank caves somewhere, so color me happy.

We also say goodbye to Richard, another bland love interest. His ‘magic addiction’ never felt properly realized (I still don’t understand his specific problem since his magic-using status seemed to change every week), and Paige dumping the guy only made her look a little manipulative and strange. Eh. This whole thing was a little strange, and frankly, my dear, I never could give a damn.

I Dream of Phoebe has some problems, but it’s by far the strongest episode in a while and one of the few comedy episodes from this period that doesn’t inspire homicide.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of The Courtship of Wyatt’s Father:

There’s nothing explicitly wrong with this episode, but it sure felt like a long-winded journey to its inevitable conclusion. The Courtship of Wyatt’s Father mostly involves scenic changes between the real world and the Ghostly Plane, an empty San Francisco colored in perpetual blue haze. We see Piper and Leo on the run from a snarling Darklighter and reigniting their romantic spark in such a major way that Piper gets knocked up in an alley. Classy conception, girl!

Elsewhere, Gideon is exposed as an evil dastardly bastard. Which would have come as a surprise if he wasn’t a) British, and b) owner of evil facial hair. Turns out he believes Wyatt’s birth has upset the natural order of things and wants to… kill… him? Or something? I don’t know. He’s just evil. There’s also some brief junk involving Chris being helped by a magical negro named Clarence, but it’s all too offensive to discuss.

This is one of those episodes that probably works better if you actually care a whole lot about Piper and Leo. However, seeing them gradually ‘finding each other’s love’ once again and getting all angsty and romantic in an alley only bored me to tears. But, like I said already, there’s little actually wrong with this episode. It’s just a little ‘blah’, grinding its way to events we were all kind of eager to happen so this story could move on.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Crimes and Witch Demeanors:

Oof. It’s another clip show, and one that doesn’t even play around with the format like they did last season with Cat House. This episode pulls directly from standard clip show tropes, showing a whole bunch of old footage in some kind of trial scenario, while the series protagonists look on all pensive. What follows is probably the messiest episode in a long while, covered in plotholes and featuring clips that, most of the time, have nothing to do with the trial since they involve events that were already scrubbed from memory by convenient magic spells or weak excuses. Blah.

I guess there’s an interesting angle to this episode, with the sisters finally getting called out on how they’ve become reckless and selfish. Phoebe, in particular, is still using her powers in her ugly quest to find a husband. With that in mind, I always thought it would have been interesting for the writers to explore this in better detail, actually exposing the side-effects of the Halliwells becoming overly reliant on spells and magic. Kind of like the ‘magic addiction’ Willow story on Buffy, only without the horrible junkie metaphors. But, then again, that would involve actual work, and the writers of this show clearly have no interest in that.

Crimes and Witch Demeanors strains from scene to scene, throws in a completely unnecessary Barbas appearance, features Gideon being more preachy and annoying than usual, and wraps Darryl up in the most illogical, ridiculous state execution in the world. Yeesh. Dumb as all hell.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Witch Wars:

Reality television is ripe for parody, but Witch Wars does nothing with it. Instead we have routine demons-want-the-Charmed-Ones-dead hoodoo, alongside some annoying ‘secret evilness’ from Gideon. I don’t know if it’s because I’m watching these episodes in a vacuum, but it’s become more than a little tiring seeing the sisters getting attacked, working out what just attacked them, and then vanquishing the attackers. The show is crying out for something radical and different, and despite an interesting central conceit, Witch Wars sure ain’t it.

As if the Charmed Ones weren’t already portrayed as huge morons, we got some hilarious banter here with the sisters, Leo and Chris trying to figure out who will turn Wyatt evil, all the while hanging out with dastardly British enigma Gideon. It’s too ridiculous. And why would they think the Witch Wars crew are responsible for Wyatt’s allegiance switch when they clearly don’t give a damn about the kid? It gives Gideon way too much credit as a villain and makes everybody we’re supposed to be rooting for seem like brainless fools. Ugh.

Witch Wars is another one of those episodes that seems pretty popular among fans, but it always kind of bored me. There’s a lot of explosions and action, but little that proves particularly moving in any way. Can we just get this horrible season over with?

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of It’s A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World, Part 1:

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about alternate Charmed universes, it’s that the inhabitants have always had a penchant for leather. Once you get past the brass knuckles, hammy acting and ridiculous costumes (Leo in particular has never looked more stupid), the first part of this finale is pretty interesting. The arcs that have driven season six, elaborate in theory but weirdly stagnant in execution, have dragged on for so long now that it’s welcome to see everything finally coming to a head.

I enjoyed the concept of both realities being one and the same as well as vastly different. It’s most evident in the sister-on-sister fight sequence, where both sets of Halliwells discuss the same tactics and kick the exact same amount of ass. It’s circumstances like these that can only be resolved by working together, since fighting is entirely futile. I liked that whole approach. Similarly, the idea of a mirror universe is pretty inventive, especially all the little details like Barbas as the Demon of Hope, and the stripper paradise that is alterna-P3.

Of course, the story is awash with plotholes, and I kept flashing back to the Seinfeldepisode where Jerry and Elaine discuss the Bizarro world in Superman, Elaine asking obvious questions like “is [Bizarro Superman] black?” and “does he live underwater?” Heh. But that’s all a minor thing and nothing too distracting here.

One moment of interest is Darryl’s beat-down at the hands of Bizarro Chris and Leo. Here’s a guy that’s just been horribly assaulted in an alleyway, and Paige and Phoebe remain only concerned for themselves. It’s another indication of how alienating they’ve become, since neither is sitting down and allowing Darryl to open up about his own issues, instead worrying about how losing Darryl as an ally will affect them. Ugh.

Regardless, this is mostly a fun episode. The season has ran for way too long and with that came a ton of padding, but here we’re at that point where Charmed has clearly gotten back that surge of energy, the writers knowing exactly where they’re going. Great cliffhanger, too, besides Rose McGowan’s weak proclamations of ‘someone help me!’ made even more glaring by the fact Shannen Doherty did such a better job with a similar scene back in All Hell Breaks Loose. Damn woman.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of It’s A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World, Part 2:

It’s a welcome surprise to see a finale that proves occasionally affecting. I always disliked Chris, I was pretty bored by his story arc throughout the sixth season, and my feelings about Drew Fuller’s acting have been made clear countless times already. But I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t saddened by his death scene. It’s a powerful moment of unrelenting grief, regardless of it being only one ‘incarnation’ of the character that has met his demise, and the following discussion between Phoebe and Paige only cements the sadness: “he just faded away?” I’m so used to Charmed being shallow and devoid of any real meaning, but that scene was pretty spectacular.

Part two of the finale is just as fractured as you would presume, but most of the Gideon arc is handled well. He’s become a character you really want to die already, and while I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not, it gives the episode a spark that the show has been crying out for. I don’t think Billy Drago has ever been more of a ham, though. But his scenes are fascinating to watch, if only to make you wonder how the hell he gets employed by anybody.

I love how the Pleasantville-ish world is executed here, with Phoebe and Paige’s general discomfort with nutty nurses and the casual discussion of limb removal and fatal hemorrhaging. The spell that Piper cast on her sisters was pretty terrible, though, and only there to pad this episode out to two hours. But the idea is so much fun that you can kind of excuse that.

Season six has been the worst season of this show so far, filled with lazy storytelling, vacuous characterization, phoned-in performances and a shocking lack of any new ideas. The entire show is beyond tired at this point, but I can’t deny that this was a strong finale that managed to bring together the various themes of this annoying story arc and create something weirdly absorbing for once.

 

The Worst:

Forget Me…Not, The Power of Three Blondes, Soul Survivor, Little Monsters, Prince Charmed, Hyde School Reunion, and A Wrong’s Day Journey Into Right

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  • Forget Me…Not introduces the Cleaners, a group who would have functioned in earlier seasons if it wasn’t for this retcon;

  • The Power of Three Blondes, featuring Jenny McCarthy (John Tucker Must Die), is absolute garbage. Not even worth anyone’s time;

  • Soul Survivor sees Paige sacrifice herself to save her boss, which is ridiculous;

  • Little Monsters sees the Charmed Ones atttempt to prove what was already proven in previous seasons;

  • Prince Charmed sees Phoebe and Paige call up Mr. Right to remind Piper the importance of love is just so stupid, because it’s really, and only, about looks here;

  • Hyde School Reunion sees Phoebe become her teenage self; and,

  • A Wrong’s Day Journey Into Right is way to over-the-top dominatrix for me.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Forget Me…Not:

This episode continues the season’s running theme of having sparkles of gold surrounded by mountains of garbage. Forget Me… Not features one of the most arresting openers in a while, the sisters mid-action and experiencing Wyatt being removed from their memory, and generally continues to entertain for the rest of the hour. It’s only when you see both logic and continuity get beaten and left for dead that the episode begins to collapse in on itself.

I liked the dragon, the sense of frenzied panic that the last half hour evokes, as well as Piper slowly piecing together her memory of Wyatt, but the entire story sort of falls apart when you think about it. They really should have slipped in some dialogue confirming that the Cleaners were only invented following Prue’s death, since it seems silly that they would let fly the events of All Hell Breaks Loose back in 2001. Similarly, the episode hinges on Wyatt being left alone with the TV, yet the only reason that occurred was because the sisters went back in time to find answers about their missing memory. Sure, it could have been one of those things that would have happened somehow regardless, but it still feels a little clumsy.

However, Holly Marie Combs really sells the hell out of the script, especially when she’s going off on Leo at the end. And while the office brawl at the Bay Mirror was outlandish and cartoon-y, it somehow worked in all its ridiculous charm. Loved the guy being sent flying through the glass. Heh.

I just wish Forget Me… Not had more consistency. There are some strong ideas here and the acting is great, but too much of the story relies on contrivance and the audience ignoring obvious plotholes. And I think everybody should ignore Paige’s adventures in sexual harassment (smash a vase over his head to stop the skeeze? – Huh?)

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of The Power of Three Blondes:

Comedy is hard. I can’t tell you the number of times in my community theater days that we worked on a comedic performance only to realize midway through that the entire thing was sucking ass. All that initial excitement and drive rapidly vanishes, giving way to a whole lot of emergency re-writing and regret over how painfully unfunny all the material is. I bring this up because The Power of Three Blondes is one of those ‘comedy’ episodes that fails on just about every level. It has an interesting concept, sure, but is written and performed in such a manic, embarrassing way that you can’t help but cringe all the way through it.

The dumb blonde jokes come thick and fast throughout the hour, each guest actress hitting the most obvious tone for their performance. This isn’t poised, sophisticated ‘dumb’ acting like Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite or whatever, it’s insults about dye-jobs. It’s repeated bitterness at being ignored despite being so hot and perky. It’s Jenny McCarthy slipping under a table to go down on Phoebe’s boyfriend. Gah.

The script, too, is a disaster zone. It’s ridiculous to see Chris and Leo so ignorant of the fact that the Charmed Ones are suddenly huge whores (I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere), it’s never explained how the Stillman’s could actually engineer all of this, and there are a dozen other, smaller plotholes that explode over the back-end of the hour (where did the anti-orbing spell come from? And how did the sisters get into the manor in the first place with that spell in play?)

Finally, the Phoebe empathy story is ridiculously grating. It’s mostly an excuse for her to whine even more than usual, and I hate the repeated references to Jason being consumed with sexual desire whenever he sees her. We get it, show — Alyssa Milano is supposed to be this ‘irresistible goddess’. Chortle.

This is plain horrible, an hour that’s just as tasteless and tacky as it is unfunny. And once again we have Paige stuck in some heinous subplot, this time with fruit-packing and gremlins. Ugh. Pretty terrible all-round.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Soul Survivor:

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.

It’s just really unfortunate that the sisterly conflict and the heavier themes that are briefly hinted at aren’t elaborated upon. All of the slaves in Zahn’s auction are there because of their own actions, and now have to reap the side-effects of instant rewards as part of their Faustian deal. With that in mind, it’s interesting to see Paige so determined to save them. It clashes with her conservative ‘one-strike-and-you’re-out’ attitude about Cole in season four, but continuity clearly isn’t Charmed’s strong suit. I wish the show had explored that angle more, though. It could have made this particular storyline far more ambitious.

While the Paige story is interesting but heavily flawed, everything else in Soul Survivor is stinky monkey shit. Phoebe’s subplot is universally shrill and makes zero sense. Why would Phoebe, who has supposedly become a major San Francisco celebrity, be forced to work with this creep? She brings up not wanting to use Jason as leverage, but surely she can use her leverage as a famous (gah) respected (gah!) columnist instead? It’s just too dumb, leading to scenes that entirely duplicate Spencer Rick’s last appearance on the show.

Similarly ridiculous is Piper’s round of dates. Ignoring the fact that all these bland-looking model-types run away in terror whenever Wyatt’s eyes sparkle (wouldn’t you, in reality, just assume your mind was playing tricks on you?), this entire story arc feels contrived since Leo’s always hanging around anyway. Oh My Goddess! led us to believe that he’d be up in Elderville for huge stretches of time, yet he’s dropping by just as often as he always did. These writers are morons.

Finally, there’s the asinine Chris/Leo subplot. I liked that they finally settled their differences (at least it spares us any more screentime for the two least-charismatic cyborgs to ever appear on this show), but their adventures in that old Roswell set and then some Civil War time period both felt hollow and redundant with a total lack of resolution, the two of them just showing up at the end with no explanation for how they stumbled out of their various eras. It’s profoundly weak writing.

Soul Survivor has an interesting A-plot that falls to pieces under its own potential, as well as a whole bunch of flat subplots that are just as worthless as they are boring. So you could skip this thing all-together, generally.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Little Monsters:

This straddles that annoying line between demon vanquishing hijinks and Touched by an Angel sentimentality, something I had assumed the show got over way back in season one.Little Monsters is a thin depiction of the whole ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate, with the sisters taking in a demon baby and figuring out what the hell to do with the little thing. Paige is all for keeping him safe and making sure he grows into a sane (if lizard-tongued) adult, Piper couldn’t care less, and Chris wants him dead. Because he’s gross and weirdly psychotic.

The story eventually descends into overlong scenes of exposition and corn, with the Manticore demon explaining his plight while Piper looks on all sympathetic. Maybe I’m just dead inside, but this storyline bored me to tears — although Seth Peterson and Holly Marie Combs did have a ton of chemistry in those last scenes, more so than she has with Leo. They really should have ran with these two. Plus, making them a couple would have fit into Piper’s whole ‘attracted to supernatural creatures’ thing. But it wasn’t to be. Blah.

Darryl’s subplot was pretty lame. The concept of an ‘invincibility spell’ is ridiculous, pulled out of the writers’ butts and in the process stomping all over the corpse of continuity. Then there’s Darryl striding up to the gun-crazed criminal, satisfied that he’ll be unharmed but seemingly unconcerned about all the terrified hostages with their mushy parts in the firing line — so dumb.

Finally, Phoebe has another problem this week. Because she can’t go thirty seconds without stumbling upon something new to whine about. Her wacky (and not at all annoying) new power made her tell Jason that she loves him, and what follows is tired sitcom schtick with Phoebe more obnoxious than ever. Drop the hag, Jason. It’s good advice. Filler episode, generally. And one of the most forgettable Charmed episodes in its history.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Prince Charmed:

The low point of season six, Prince Charmed is one of the laziest episodes in a long while, a tacky bottle show full of terrible sex gags, terrible characterization, terrible demon antagonists and, shockingly, a goddamn food fight. It goes without saying that the one bright spot is Phoebe getting a cake flung in her face, the rest of the episode taken up with the sisters drooling over some Latino beefcake played by an anti-choice neo-con tool. Ugh.

There’s also a terrible message at the heart of this episode. The whole Mr. Right saga opens up after Piper announces that she’s no longer going to be pursuing new men in her life, instead deciding to concentrate on her young child. Phoebe and Paige read way too much into this, assuming that Piper is giving up on love and therefore abandoning sex. It’s just an ugly storyline, with these two self-involved morons unable to see that Piper barely got out of a long relationship and doesn’t at all need a whole bunch of hunky dates every week. There’s a huge difference between becoming some old cat lady and setting your current priorities straight. It’s insulting, and speaks volumes about the predominantly male writing team and their thoughts on adult women and sisterhood. Additionally, the whole idea is pretty gross, too. It’d be like me buying my brother a sex doll for his birthday and making him go upstairs to give it a test screw while I eat cake downstairs. Vomit-worthy, kids.

Elsewhere, we have the thinnest demon story in months, with a bunch of robed types trying to kidnap Wyatt and make him their new leader. Aren’t we passed this already? There are some brief developments with Chris and what happens to Wyatt in the future, but it’s nothing substantial. Prince Charmed is a horrible misfire that’s just as offensive as it is unfunny.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of Hyde School Reunion:

The last ‘high school reunion’ episode was the considerably better Coyote Piper, an hour that had fun with the usual reunion clichés as well as a campy (but interesting) demon plot given to an actress who can always sell the material she’s given. Hyde School Reunion, from that weirdly weak title to the horrifying ending, is filler junk driven into the ground by annoying guest stars and bad girl clichés. Kill it with fire.

The episode doesn’t actually open that terribly, even if it is an exact remake of Coyote Piper, right down to the awkward yearbook photograph that opens both episodes. I don’t understand why Paige is attending with her sister, but Phoebe is pretty funny with her reunion jitters. But as soon as the event starts up, we hit poop central. From the horrible butch gym teacher and the contrived ex-boyfriend to the randomly still-bitter and still-bitchy high school rival, it all spins rapidly downhill.

Alyssa looks great in her early-90s leather look, but the rest of the hour is ridiculously flat as she and her magically-brainwashed friends spring some ex-classmate out of jail, only to discover that he’s unsurprisingly nuts. Worse still, the sisters solve this particular mess by allowing the perfectly-insane but also perfectly-human Rod Rowland to be melted to death by acid-spewing demons. Because that’s not entirely wrong and against everything this show has stated when it comes to the morality of the sisters… Ugh.

There are some cute moments in the episode’s subplot between Chris and his grandfather, but that isn’t enough to save the entire hour, which is far too bogged down by irritating hag-itude. One of the most skippable Charmed episodes in history.

According to the Unwelcome Commentary review of A Wrong Day’s Journey Into Right:

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this is right around the time that Rose McGowan gives up. Pre-Spin City, she exhibited a believable albeit jittery mode of performing. But now we’ve stumbled into the Charmed period where she perfects that consistently asinine, mugging, screwing-up-of-the-face ‘acting’ — constantly pulling lame facial expressions to cover up her own contempt for the show that she’s stuck on. It’s ridiculously annoying.

The rest of the episode isn’t entirely heinous, even if it does feature all kinds of horrible ingredients (the return of the Mr. Right spell, demons who look like porn stars, Phoebe in leather and a bad wig, etc.) Some of the scenes are way too dialogue-heavy, but I liked how Paige, Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong all had similar personalities and knew the ins and outs of each other; while the Demonatrix fight scene at the end was pretty cool, too. It’s all kind of goofy, like always, but this one somehow worked.

Meanwhile, Darryl is justifiably angsty over last episode’s whole ‘nearly-got-state-executed’ thing, and now isn’t so willing to help the sisters and their various badly-acted friends and neighbors wriggle out of legal matters. I like this Darryl. At least he’s no longer a complete push-over.

I just wish the show would actually acknowledge how manipulative and selfish most of the characters are, instead of just having them exhibit that kind of behavior. Just look at Leo willing to orb Chris out of jail, intentionally leaving the consequences to be dealt with later. They really should have recognized how screwed-up these folks are with their priorities, and how easily the show writes the characters out of corners. But, of course, that would require a little bit of self-awareness on the part of the writers and… yada yada. You know where I’m going.

 

5x05-Sisters

Next in the best and worst is Season 5.

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3 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Charmed: Season 6

  1. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Charmed: Season 5 | The Progressive Democrat

  2. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Charmed: Season 4 | The Progressive Democrat

  3. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Charmed: Season 3 | The Progressive Democrat

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