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TV's Latest Reboot, 'Charmed,' Returns
October 14, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

Warning: Possible spoilers

You don’t need any extraordinary powers to have predicted that the fondly remembered WB witch drama Charmed would return.

To be more precise, Charmed will return at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on the CW. Cosmetically, it’s had some work done, but it remains the same essential tale of three sisters who discover they have some pretty cool powers that also commit them to protecting the world from evil demons.

And why was it inevitable that Charmed, which ran from 1998 to 2006 in its first life, would be reborn for a second one?

Well, first, any show whose initial run lasted more than 10 episodes seems to be queued up for a reboot these days. Something about how the demand for television content has outdistanced networks’ faith in the ability of their creators to come up with new ideas that are better than the old ones.

Second, the hottest pop culture ticket today is Marvel and the Marvel Universe, cinematic and otherwise. That is to say, millions of kids are enchanted with flawed characters who have a superpower.

Welcome to Charmed. Or rather, welcome back to Charmed, which was riding that train 20 years ago.

Melanie Vera (Melonie Diaz, top) is a graduate student at Hilltowne University. She’s a feminist. In fact, she’s an all-purpose activist, which means she spends a lot of time angry.

Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery, top) is Mel’s younger sister. She’s more of a social animal, psyched about joining an exclusive sorority.

Mel and Maggie argue a lot and get along well, encouraged by their single mother Marisol (Valerie Cruz, below).

One night they get an urgent text from their mother asking them to come home. By the time they get there, Mom has crashed to her death through a large glass panel.

Marisol’s death releases further news she’d been withholding from the girls, which is their genetic inheritance. Most kids get Mom’s smile, or her curly hair. Mel and Maggie’s inheritance is that they are witches.

The final surprise is that they also have an older half-sister, Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Mantock, top). This situation often causes great drama. In this case they all quickly get along, bonding over the fact they all have a supernatural power.

Macy has telekinesis. Mel can freeze time. Maggie can hear what people are thinking. That, by the way, is about as double-edged as powers get.

In any case, it’s like watching The Incredibles and they aren’t even cartoons.

The sisters also have a guardian angel, in the slightly oily person of Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans, below). He’s what’s called a whitelighter, watching over them while showing off a few powers of his own.

There’s just a slight hint Harry might have a shady side. We know he has a political side, because he tells the sisters that there are three signs of apocalypse, and that the first is “when the weakest of us achieves ill-gotten glory.”

Clearly, he tells them, that means “your current president.”

Charmed otherwise doesn’t seem especially political, though Mel’s activism opens the door to a steady stream of contemporary-issues jokes.

At the same time, Charmed has reset its lineup to include a much more diverse group of sisters. Also, the first alpha villain they face is a smug college professor who has apparently been sexually harassing women for years and now seems convinced he will never be called to account for it.

These contemporary touches make Charmed more than a simple repeat of the original series, and that’s a good start. There’s also more competition in the superpowers biz today, though, and while these 3Ms are not competing directly against the likes of Black Widow and Supergirl, they’ll need to take their game to a new level if they’re going to carve their own new niche.

 
 
 
 
 
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