Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Charmed: Charmed Noir (7.8)

Seven seasons in, and the tropes that once made Charmed so engaging and fun have rapidly become tired and annoying. This season is already doing a strong job in breaking new ground, but Charmed Noir is probably the most single-handedly inventive Charmed hour since, gosh, Chick Flick? It looks gorgeous, has a visual identity all its own, utilizes each character well, features some perceptive dialogue, and entirely resists throwing in a bunch of badly-performed demon characters. Yes, this is still the later years of Charmed.

The story unfolds wonderfully, with a knowing script that cleverly exploits how derivative the novel-within-the-show actually is, from the 'Burmese' Falcon to the predictable plot twists. Like any disposable writing, the Mullen brothers thrust themselves center stage in the story, and Curtis Kheel showcases his admirable knowledge of writing tropes, from Mary-Sue's to gumshoe detective stories.

Rose McGowan is famed for her love of everything 1930's, and fits into this little bubble perfectly. She gives her most arresting performance in a long time, especially when she embraces the femme fatale within and recites dialogue straight out of a Bogart movie. There's also a memorably jazzy score, and the direction by Michael Grossman is inspired, notably the awkward camera angles and melodramatic blocking of the actors whenever they're involved in some kind of stand-off. I also loved the way Phoebe and Piper were positioned into the story, literally writing events as Paige and Kyle experienced them.

If there's anything to complain about, it's Phoebe's distrust of Kyle, one of the most annoying subplots in a while. It's not annoying on its own (Kyle is mighty shifty), but frustrating when you remember Phoebe's own anger at Prue and Paige when they distrusted Cole -- Cole being the dastardly bastard who tried killing the Halliwells on countless occasions. Damn hypocrite.

But Charmed Noir is a gorgeous standalone mystery, something fresh and attention-grabbing with great characterization and a beautiful visual elegance. Probably one of the more underrated Charmed classics. A

Guest stars Bug Hall (Eddie Mullen); Joel Swetow (Alpha); Patrice Fisher (Beta); Al Sapienza (Johnny the Gent); Ann Cusack (Miss Donovan); Michael Lee Gogin (Gnome); Beverly Sanders (Mrs. Mullen); Chris Diamantopoulos (Inspector Davis); Sal Landi (Lieutenant Snyder); Rick Pasqualone (Lips); Kerr Smith (Kyle Brody)
Writer Curtis Kheel Director Michael Grossman


  1. I agree about this being underrated because of its filler-purposes. You know you're in trouble when the fillers in your shows are better than plot-heavy episodes. I would love to introduce Brad Kern's face to a frying pan.
    I remember it having a laugh-out-loud moment when piper and phoebe dropped that piano to alert paige.

  2. At this point I had gotten so frustrated by Rose McGowan's mugging that really nothing could save an episode centered on her. I never really enjoyed this one.
    Haha Mario I second the frying pan assault. She truly deserves it.

  3. Lol, no Brad Kern deserves the frying pan. She deserves to have the piano dropped on her.

    Good god, how did we put up with them doing this and by this i mean the revolving door of 3-episode love interests just because the CW managed to snag some washed-up "name" star. I remember Billy Zane lighting up every scene he was in... everyone else from nick lachey (!!!) to some other D-star is just a haze of terrible writing and unmemorable characters.