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. B+
Guest stars Balthazar Getty (Richard Montana); Saba Homayoon (Jinny); Mark Deklin (Bosk); Joey Naber (Head Thief)
Writer Curtis Kheel Director John Kretchmer