Sunday, February 6, 2011

Charmed: Is There a Woogy in the House? (1.15)

This is one of my favorite episodes, and it may have something to do with how simple, almost cliched conceits were made fun, intriguing and pretty ingenious. For one, we have yet another hour in which a Halliwell sister is possessed by evil. At the same time, the episode hinges on the oldest of sitcom-style storylines: "the boss coming round for dinner". As a result, Is There a Woogy in the House? (extravagant title and all), is a wildly uneven but most importantly an entertaining thrill-ride of a Charmed hour, and one of the best of the first season.

This is undoubtedly Alyssa's hour, revisiting those one-note bad girls she played on Melrose Place and in every one of those direct-to-video soft-porn movies she did post-Who's the Boss? (Poison Ivy 2, anyone?). She's great as Woogy-Pheebs, underplaying the craziness with some deep, clipped vocals and the casual body language of a secretive killer. She's just a lot of fun here.

Elsewhere, great job by John T. Kretchmer on directorial duties, especially in the scene with Phoebe walking through the Manor, wallpaper peeling off walls and glass breaking as she saunters by. Also of note were the askew camera angles as Prue and Piper get thrown out of their own house. He generally creates a dark and energetic atmosphere which immediately forces this episode to stand out from the pack.

It's also easily forgotten that Woogy is a great mythology episode, details revealed about the spirituality of the Manor itself and featuring the introduction of the Nexus. It's the show daring to be a little deeper than typical Aaron Spelling series and granting the Halliwell lineage a depth that so far has been noticeably absent.

A welcome breather from the now repetitive "innocent in need of rescue" episodes, Woogy is the highlight of the season so far, combining some great character work with a memorable bad guy and some awesome sisterly interaction. Series classic. A

Guest stars Shawn Christian (Josh); Nancy Moonves (Professor Beth Whittlesey); Richard McGonagle (Woogy); Michael Mantell (Gasmen); Jennifer Rhodes (Penny "Grams" Halliwell); Cristine Rose (Claire Pryce)
Writers Chris Levinson, Zack Estrin Director John T. Kretchmer

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