This wasn't actually as bad as I remembered it being. The idea of being trapped inside a painting is arguably pretty innovative, and The Painted World crosses that with general Charmed ridiculousness. But the hour is probably strongest from a Phoebe standpoint. There's an annoying "stay in school, kids!" message at the end, but up till then it's an amusing character-driven subplot, with Phoebe conjuring up a smart spell when she comes to the conclusion that her supposed lack of intelligence is what's preventing her from truly moving up in the world. Alyssa Milano is great here, showcasing her focused, impressive sitcom skills.
The A-plot is pretty great, too. I guess the twist could be considered a little disappointing, especially as the idea of the Franklin family being driven 'insane' by the painting is so interesting, but all together it pretty much works. Undoubtedly the story perks up when Piper gets stuck in the painting with Prue, and the interplay between them is pretty hilarious. Especially Holly's line reading of "blades!". Ah, she cracks me up.
Less successful (yet again) are Dan and Jenny. I get that they're neighbors, but asking Piper to help Jenny out is just way too contrived a plot point. It's homework. Can't she research online or at a library? Yeesh. But, away from this minor annoyance, the episode is a lot of fun. B-
Guest stars Paul Kersey (Malcolm); Holly Fields (Jane Franklin)
Writer Constance M. Burge Director Kevin Inch