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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble! The 2018 reboot of 90s fantasy witch series Charmed has finally flown onto South African screens on its broomstick (new episodes land every Saturday here on Showmax at the same time as the DStv broadcast).
Fans of the original will recognise the theme and story arc, but the only thing left over from the original is the Book Of Shadows. The world that greets our new trio of witches is very different from the original series, explains Charmed creator Jessica O’Toole.
“We are only here because of that show [the original, which ran from 1998 to 2006]. We were huge fans of the original. That wrapped everything up so wonderfully – they all got their happy endings and there were even glimpses of their future. We felt like it told a complete story. That is why we chose to rework it, give it fresh new life with our version.”
Old-school power players
Fans who watched the original series will remember the witch sisters who made up the lead cast: Prue Halliwell (Shannen Doherty, who quit after Season 3), Piper Halliwell (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano).
Piper and Phoebe were joined in Season 4 by half-sister Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan) when Prue was killed by a demon assassin for getting a little too close to the truth about the Book Of Shadows.
Like most other shows that get rebooted, the original stars were less than impressed that their work was getting a revamp.
All four actresses from the first series let fly on social media, tearing into the producers of the reboot, with Holly saying:
Here’s the thing. Until you ask us to rewrite it like Brad Kern did weekly don’t even think of capitalizing on our hard work. Charmed belongs to the 4 of us, our vast amount of writers, crews and predominantly the fans. FYI you will not fool them by owning a title/stamp.
Alyssa was far more subdued and well-mannered, although her unhappiness was clear in an interview with Entertainment Tonight: “I wish that they would have come to us and we would have been involved since the beginning. But having said that, I do hope that it reaches the newer generation and impacts that generation the way ours was able to do for its generation.”
Okay, so now that we’re done with the old farts from way back when, let’s get down to the important stuff: who’s in it, what you need to know and why you should watch the new version of Charmed.
Who’s in it?
There are still three half-sisters, but they have different names to the original (duh), vaguely similar powers… oh, and did we mention that they’re not whitewashed, which hit a lot of original Charmed fans’ nerves.
Macy Vaughn (Madeleine Mantock, Veil in dystopian sci-fi martial arts series Into The Badlands) is the eldest of the three. She’s got her doctorate in Molecular Genetics and when she can’t be found, she’s got her nose in the books in the library. She has no idea that she’s got two younger half-siblings when the series starts. Macy has the power of telekinesis (like eldest sister Prue, who could also move and control objects with her mind).
Mel Vera (Melonie Diaz, whom you may recognise as the unfortunate babysitter in the very first episode of Season 1 of HBO’s Room 104) is the middle sister. She’s a lesbian who graduated with a degree in Women’s Studies. She’s outspoken. She’s rough around the edges. And she doesn’t let anyone push her around. Mel can freeze time (similar to Piper in the original, who could slow down time… but not stop it altogether).
Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery, Brianna in the new version of The X-Files) is the baby of the bunch – her dad is also Macy’s father. She’s a sorority girl who’s just starting out at college. She’s fun, bubbly and full of beans. Until she’s told that she’s a witch… because that means she can’t be one of the cool kids in class. She has the power of telepathy and can read people’s minds, unlike Phoebe in the original series who had the power of premonition only.
What’s it about?
The girls’ mother dies, leaving their secret – that they’re The Charmed Ones, legendary witches who possess The Power Of Three. Their sacred duty is to protect the world from demons and other supernatural nasties who want to turn the Earth into a fiery ball of evil.
Along the way, the trio of siblings will get help from their “guardian angel”, a Whitelighter named Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans, Frank in period drama The Man In The High Castle) and the Book Of Shadows, a magical spell book that contains everything the girls need on their quests.
Why should I watch it?
Simple – it’s good, contemporary witchy fun. The cast has been given a reboot in terms of their skin colour and sexual orientation, the stories are new, the enemies are badder than ever and it doesn’t include The Devil, for those find the reboot of another witchy show on that other streaming platform a little too dark-arts-y.
“We wanted everyone to feel represented,” says exec producer Jeffrey W Byrd. “We have a really special opportunity to create something separate [from the original].”
Jessica adds that “we are living in a new age where there is diversity all around us. It’s a different show. It’s a different time. And we want to focus on that. We really are trying to create something separate”.
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