Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Charmed: Vaya Con Leos (8.10)

Charmed caught a ton of heat around this time for writing out Brian Krause due to budget cuts, fans (including myself) pinning the blame on Brad Kern and fried-ass car-wreck Billie Jenkins. Maybe that was all a little unfair, in retrospect. Especially on the latter, since it's not entirely Kaley Cuoco's fault that she was miscast in a role that was ridiculously ill-conceived from the very beginning. But here we go with the embarrassing dismissal of Charmed's sole male regular, another flat tire in a season that has so far done nothing to justify its entire existence.

Vaya Con Leos is a total showcase for Holly Marie Combs, and it goes without saying that she knocks it out of the park. She conveys full-blown horror and apathy at what's happening, as well as a mournful sadness over the loss of her husband. Both Alyssa and Rose are pretty good, too. But it doesn't disguise the fact that Leo's departure is pretty damn stupid. So the sisters would only be motivated for the final battle if they knew Leo's frozen ass was at risk? Really? Although, it could just be some knowing comment on the sister's own selfishness. These are the same women who'd rather hit up a sperm bank than save an innocent... Phoebe! Or fuck a cop instead of getting a real job... Paige!

Away from the Piper scenes, this is business as usual. The 'everybody's Leo' spell is entirely half-assed, and I have no idea why this show on that presumably $300 budget would even attempt difficult special effects like they did here -- particularly when the plot itself is only there to fill time. Elsewhere we have Billie and her Christy Jenkins issues, and of course she thinks her missing-for-fifteen-years sister is more important than Leo and his rapid countdown to popsicle-ization. Ugh.

There's a lot to like about Vaya Con Leos, notably whenever the emotion of losing Leo is pushed center stage, but if anything the real-life contractual stuff dampers the whole thing. I never particularly cared about Leo, but it sucks that the show's unnecessary eighth season has forced so many changes to occur that cut right through to the heart of Charmed itself. C+

Guest stars
Ivan Sergei (Henry Mitchell); Simon Templeman (The Angel of Death); Denise Dowse (The Angel of Destiny); Darren Pettie (Burke); Eugene Robert Glazer (Elder); Bianca Chiminello (Avatar); Dennis Cockrum (Salesman)
Writer Cameron Litvack Director Janice Cooke Leonard


  1. I always HATED how Billie was in the final goodbye scene just standing there forcing herself to look sad. It just irritated me to no end. You could tell Kaley didn't know how to play that scene. Billie doesn't know Leo enough to care, but she also has to show some sadness to fit in with her new pals. Oy the disaster.

    Moreover, I laughed out loud at $300 budget and popsicle-ization. Seriously. Just thought you should knew that you've shown more wit and effort reviewing this season than the entire cast and crew put together making this abysmal mess of a season :)

  2. You know, sometimes I wanna watch Charmed only to know what you're talking about. Your reviews are such a great read.

  3. I remember this being one of season eight's bright spots, even though putting Leo on ice was contrived as hell, yet another example of the writers putting a roadblock between him and Piper. At least they had a legitimate reason for doing it this time, with the budget constraints...but it still bugs. Not that I particularly care for Leo anyway, but, eh, it sucks that Piper, the only character I cared for at this point, has to suffer. Granted, you can't really go wrong with HMC and dramatic material, and she really delivers in this episode. I miss her regular presence on my tv, I can't imagine she has much screen time on Pretty Little Liars...

    I'm really loving these reviews, though. Especially all the snark!

    Off-topic: Thanks for commenting on that Felicity post even if you couldn't reading it because of the spoiler-y nature. I really do recommend that you check out Felicity. It's definitely a cut above most teen/wb/cw shows. The first season in particular is really strong, and Felicity the character is a great creation. It does go off the rails at certain points, but it is pretty engaging viewing all the way through. Love Keri Russell too, and I'm really hoping the spy pilot she is doing for FX gets picked up (when I read about it, I immediately flashed back to the Alias episode with sydney and Vaughn undercover in the suburbs...)

  4. Nad Yeah, it was disrespectful to Kaley. Particularly when Billie spent the whole episode whining that her sister should take precedence. It only helped make Billie look more irrational and annoying, and I imagine any actor would struggle to make it feel real. And, again, thanks for the compliments, dude.

    Lamounier Hah! Thanks, buddy! I do the same thing. I got really into reading reviews of The Killing earlier this year, despite having not watched the show past episode three or something, as it's so much fun to read commentary on bad shows. It's always guaranteed to be pretty fun, even if you don't know specifics.

    tvfan They did dump on her way too much. And yet it was Phoebe who ended up being portrayed as the one most deserving of some kind of karmic reward. Gah. And agreed about Holly. I think she plays one of the moms on PLL so I can't imagine she gets a ton to do. Panda would know, hopefully he can enlighten us.

    And, yup, Felicity is right up there on my watch list. Re-watching Dawson's Creek has really got me into late '90s teen stuff lately, so it's become a bigger interest. And you're talking about The Americans, right? That does sound pretty great. I was always surprised her career didn't take off more after Waitress. That was a great movie anyway, but she was especially charming in it. Like Oscar-level charming.

    Thanks, everybody.

  5. Totally agree with this review. It works best when the loss of Leo is center stage. I gave it a strong score myself solely for that reason, but I do agree about it failing elsewhere.

    Great review.

  6. tvfan Ironic timing, heh.
    Panda Thanks a lot, excited to read more of your stuff.