Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Charmed: Once in a Blue Moon (7.6)

Season seven gets a bad rap, when I always thought it had a drive and ambition that hadn't been seen on the show since at least late season four. I think the fact it's lumped in between arguably the worst Charmed seasons kind of harms it's reputation, since nearly every episode so far has managed to be something kind of fun and interesting -- even if the basic concepts of most of these hours sound horrible in principle. PMS werewolves? Really? But I always sort of liked Once in a Blue Moon, video-game CGI and all.

I feel like I'm talking about this all the time, but I admire any episode from this period that didn't rely on the same plot trappings that have become so familiar to any long-time viewer. I'm sick of demons pursuing Wyatt, I'm sick of the Halliwells knocking their increasingly vapid heads together and creating a vanquishing potion to save the day -- but here we have actual monsters, big CGI beast-things and folks getting torn apart. There's also the great midway point twist involving the sisters, and in general it's a pretty absorbing story that's well performed and wonderfully directed.

There's also been the 'Gathering Storm' arc that has been bubbling under the surface this season, finally confirmed to involve those Avatars glimpsed in season five. It's a curious development, and it's all pretty vague at this point, but I like that the show is pursuing real serialization this year, instead of repetitive standalone stories. It also folds in nicely with Agent Brody, whose back-story isn't entirely remarkable, but who remains an intriguing new character nonetheless. And unlike, say, Richard, he actually has chemistry with Paige.

Leslie finally departed the show and man what a boring storyline that was. He and Phoebe spent almost their entire time sniping at one another, before randomly sleeping together, trying to be a legit couple and then going their separate ways. I've discussed Charmed's hideously contrived love interests in the past, but this one was particularly awful. Alyssa Milano and Nick Lachey never had chemistry, and real-life relationships should never be this much work. The entire story hinged on ridiculous contrivance and ended up being a pretty empty excuse for stunt-casting. Good riddance.

Once in a Blue Moon features an entertaining A-plot that is nowhere near as hackneyed as you would imagine, alongside a couple of intriguing subplots. I hated this show last season, and it's rewarding to see the show gradually returning to form. There are obviously still elements that bug me, but that's latter-day Charmed, I guess. B+

Crimes of Fashion Phoebe is literally tumbling out of her shirt throughout the last twenty minutes of the episode, in what is the most gratuitous display of silicon-enhanced cleavage since early Baywatch.

Guest stars Nick Lachey (Leslie St. Claire); Joel Swetow (Alpha); Patrice Fisher (Beta); Ian Anthony Dale (Gamma); TJ Thyne (Danny); John Ross Bowie (Marcus); John De Lancie (Odin); Kerr Smith (Kyle Brody)
Writers Erica Messer, Debra J. Fisher Director John Kretchmer


  1. I'm sorry, I just can't!

    You made some great points though, about the show tackling fresh ground, but I just never got past the bad CGI and how horribly unlikable the girls were here.

    Great reviews, though. You always have something interesting to say =)

  2. Well there's a first time for everything! For once I agree with Max over Charmed and disagree with Panda. I love this one too. As horrible as the CGI was (as it often was with this show), it's an episode I find very charming and enjoyable. Moreover, I always loved the mid-episode twist with the girls turning out to be the beasts. As predictable as this show was, I never saw it coming!

  3. Because I wrote these so long ago, I forget about the tiny intricacies of each episode, so I can't remember whether the sisters were unlikable here. Hopefully you'll elaborate a little on that in your review.

    I'm actually digging this 'love/hate' dynamic we're all having lately. It's way more interesting than mutual appreciation/dislike. Heh.