Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Charmed: Malice in Wonderland (8.2)

I can watch season one's The Wedding from Hell over and over again, primarily because it's so completely terrible that it becomes some of the finest unintentional comedy this show ever produced. Hilariously, that episode has a rival for the crown, and it's this entirely misjudged car crash. Malice in Wonderland is shockingly ill-conceived, every corner of the script peppered with the most ridiculous, offensive storylines ever portrayed on Charmed, propped up by a demon scheme that goes nowhere fast and additional Billie junk that makes your brain leak out from your nose. It's by far one of the funniest episodes in the show's history.

Each sister gets her very own mountain of suckage this week, and it's best to begin with Phoebe's heinous subplot. Malice in Wonderland is narrated by the Feebster, Brad Kern cribbing Sex and the City with a painfully self-aware episode-long 'signs' theme. Not only does it feel entirely unnecessary, it's also hugely outdated. This episode aired over a year after Sex and the City went off the air, and long before the show had a pop culture rebirth with the movie releases. Throwing it randomly into this episode is just strange -- an annoying attempt to break format with absolutely no internal logic to justify it. Sure, Jason Lewis is now in the cast, but it still feels superfluous.

Meanwhile, Phoebe is wrapped up in a flirtation with yet another six-episode lover (oops, spoiler), and her interaction with artist Dex provides some wonderful comedy. Funniest being his ridiculously lame diatribe about how flying over Africa and seeing the pain and suffering on the ground below inspired him to throw together some... um... big metal shard he dubs 'art'? It's so eternally stupid.

Piper's subplot involves more whining, but it's probably her most overtly shameful whining yet. She spends most of the episode desperate to get her nails done, and complains to Leo that she feels like the last seven years have passed her by because of all the demon hunting and that she doesn't know her own identity anymore. This coming from a woman who runs her own successful business, is happily married and has two children. The shamelessness of this particular rant is repulsive. Piper also whines that she can't have a normal life without being constantly interrupted. This would be fine if her 'normal life' was being interrupted by supernatural creatures, but her interruptions here involve a power outage at P3 and Leo getting locked out of the house, both entirely mundane and (gasp!) 'normal' problems! Lady needs to pipe down.

There's also Paige's horrible subplot down at the police academy. I actually like the idea of Paige as a cop, even if it would look all 'Officer Heather Locklear in TJ Hooker'-stupid. Just like her social work, it's a legit job that would allow her to protect innocents, and makes a lot of sense from a storytelling perspective at this current time on the show, what with the sisters still living under aliases. But Brad Kern's script is an abhorrent mess, opening with a hideously overblown sexist police chief who degrades Paige for no apparent reason, followed up by another horrible sequence where a police training instructor comes on to Paige in the middle of a police academy pep talk, surrounded by other rookies. Furthering this array of inappropriate trash, Paige ends up abandoning her interest in police work and instead decides to make out with the instructor late at night in the middle of his office. Thanks, show! Forget about carving out a new career that could actually help people, Paige will settle for a quick fuck with a guy she'll never see again. What a great role model for the millions of pre-teens watching this show.

Finally, there's Billie and the case of the missing teenagers. Kaley Cuoco is just as grating as she was last week, and all the 'hooking up scrying crystals to a GPS'/'learned all about magic after a quick trip to Barnes & Noble' hooey was painfully vague and nonsensical. The Alice in Wonderland thing is a strange non-event, too, with guest star Noa Tishby strutting around like an old hooker in a Whitesnake video, demons plotting doomed schemes to take over the world, and CGI that brings to mind bad video games from the 90's. It's trash of the lowest order.

Malice in Wonderland is the funniest episode in a long time, every storyline awash in terrible dialogue, bad acting and casual sexism. This offends everyone -- men are creeps and perverts; women are high-maintenance flakes. The entire Charmed audience deserves better than this. F

Crimes of Fashion Phoebe spends the whole episode dressed in a hideous half-jacket that exposes her bra, knockers and belly. It's ridiculously inappropriate for office wear. Unless you work in a brothel. Spare my eyeballs, show.

Guest stars Noa Tishby (Black Heart); Beatrice Rosen (Jenny Bennet); Mykel Shannon Jenkins (Paul Haas); Ted Sutton (Recruitment Officer); Michael McLafferty (Training Instructor); Crystal Kwon (Officer Maron); Michael Dempsey (Bud); Jason Lewis (Dex Lawson)
Writer Brad Kern Director Mel Damski


  1. Thank you Max. Utterly perfect review of one of the worst hours of television I've ever seen in my life. I really don't know what else to say: I detest everything about this SO MUCH. It's episodes like these that completely ruined and obliterated Charmed's legacy. How could you possibly show this episode to someone who wasn't a fan of the show and convince them that Charmed was a production worthy of their time? Horrid.

  2. One of Charmed's worst. Agree with everything, particularly the Sex and the City stuff. So ridiculous.

    Nice noting Phoebe's sex top. How does she get away with wearing that to work, let alone out of the house at all. I mention it in mine too!

    Don't hate me, but I still kinda dug Billie this season. There was something fresh and upbeat about her that was made more obvious with Rose and Alyssa asleep at the wheel.

  3. I remember you saying that in the past, but I won't hold it against you. Heh. Re-watching it, I found her aggravating during the opening stretch of the season, and then this muddled mess of a character towards the end. I couldn't understand what her motivations were, or if we were even supposed to root for her? It was confused as all hell, and Kaley Cuoco was hugely miscast.

    Thanks for the comments, guys.

  4. I completely agree with this review. It's so much worse than The Wedding from Hell, in my opinion, because at least that episode, while hideously awful, is actually fun to watch. I can't even stand this embarrassment long enough to laugh at it.