Charmed: The Complete Second Season Review
The second series of Charmed continues much in the same vein as the first series. We follow the lives of the three Halliwell sisters - Prue, Piper and Phoebe - as they continue to explore their magical powers and fight to rid the Earth of demons, protecting the innocent along the way. If it sounds cheesy, just try summing up Buffy in one sentence too. And while it may be that little bit cheesy, it’s also a fun show to watch if you can get past the lack of anything approaching seriousness.
The second season starts one year after the Halliwells first discovered they were 'The Charmed Ones', endowed them with stronger powers than your average, run-of-the-mill casting crones because of their status as sisters from a long, established line of witches. And things have progressed quite a lot from the previous year. For instance, there’s some new emphasis on relationships and how the witchcraft affects them. And there’s more of an impact on the characters they interact with. Andy isn’t around this season, so his partner Daryl (Dorian Gregory) has a greater presence now. Piper gets a new love interest in the form of neighbour Dan (Greg Vaughan) and at least for this season becomes embroiled in a love triangle with him and Leo. We learn a lot more about Leo too in these episodes, which is fitting as he becomes a lot more important in subsequent series. And Prue also gets a few new love interests. Perhaps sensing a bit of 'romance overkill', the writers have reserved Phoebe’s big love stories for series 3 and beyond, but for now the focus is mostly on Piper where men are involved... while the others develop in different ways (Prue with work and witching powers, Phoebe with growing up and signing up for college!). The P3 nightclub - which has always seemed an obvious meeting place for the girls as well as a showcase for getting music into the show - also reaches centre stage this season.
Beyond this move towards fleshing out more of the central cast than just the Halliwells, Charmed remains more or less the same as the previous series. There’s plenty of demon-of-the-week shows, which can be a little samey but which all help cement the sisters’ relationships and sometimes advance the overall narrative (such as Prue developing a new power). I was surprised at how repetitive I found some of these episodes, as if I hadn’t noticed so much when I watched them on TV with breaks of a week between each. But I know there are better things to come in season 3, so I think it’s forgiveable that it took the show a couple of years to really establish its feel and characters. At least there’s a little more variety this time around than in the first season, and some of that’s to do with additional cast members and all-round better fight situations here – there’s more asking for help and finding solutions in this season than there was in the first and it certainly helps.
I do enjoy Charmed; I think I mentioned in my previous review that this show is almost a guilty pleasure for me. I can’t exactly place my finger on what it is about it. I obviously recognise that it’s not the best show in the world – it can easily stray towards cheesiness, and there are a number of episodes where you feel the writers have got a bit lazy. But there’s more to enjoy than simply the supernatural warring side; the relationship between the sisters and those they come into contact with receives better attention and there’s always the strong impression that the writers know full well when they’re being cheesy and enjoy camping it up.
It’s not a serious show; it’s light-hearted and certainly intended solely for enjoyment, not to convey any great messages or themes. So while for me it works, for others I’m sure it’s disastrous. The second season definitely improves on the first, however; relationships are deeper and more three-dimensional and there’s a lot of good groundwork laid for the third series – the season many would say was the highlight of the show. (I’m semi-agreed on that point, but more of that in my write-ups of the show's subsequent seasons!). Taken for what it is, season 2 of Charmed does not break a lot of new ground compared to what came before, but at least allows more leeway for relationship drama alongside the supernatural elements – something I personally feel the writers often do better at.
The Book of Shadows gets stolen on the first anniversary of the Halliwells finding out about their magical roots. They have to deal with a demon called Abraxas, who is using his theft to undo all their magic. The house is refinanced to help fund Piper’s dreams of running a nightclub.
2: ‘Morality Bites’
Ten years in the future, Phoebe is about to be burned to death. In the present day she has a vision of this, and the sisters travel in time to find out what’s happened and how they can save her.
3: ‘The Painted World’
Prue discovers someone is trapped inside a painting, but reads out the incantation on it and gets sucked in herself. Piper asks the neighbour for some help decorating her nightclub and Phoebe casts a smart spell on herself which eventually helps her free those in the painting.
4: ‘The Devil's Music’
The manager of Dishwalla comes to Piper’s nightclub P3 to discuss the band playing. It turns out that he’s made a Faustian deal with a demon to gain fame in exchange for innocent groupie souls. Leo returns and Piper angsts over her feelings.
5: ‘She's a Man, Baby, a Man!’
Phoebe becomes linked to a man-killing succubus and dreams of killing men. Prue casts a spell to catch the killer and finds herself turned into a man. Piper learns that Dan (their neighbour) likes her, while Prue tries to persuade her to ask Leo out.
6: ‘That Old Black Magic’
A powerful witch escapes from imprisonment and the sisters must find ‘the Chosen One’ – who has the power to defeat the witch. This ‘Chosen One’ turns out to be a reluctant teenager named Kyle. Leo bumps into Piper’s new love interest and much awkwardness ensues.
7: ‘They're Everywhere’
A group of warlocks called ‘Collectors’ are after a young man who’s been translating ancient tablets with too much knowledge on them. The Halliwells get involved and confuse matters but also save the day. Prue learns some truths about Jack Sheridan and Piper heads off for a weekend with Dan.
8: ‘P3 H2O’
In true traumatic style, the sisters must destroy the demon that was responsible for their mother’s death. In doing so, they learn some secrets of their mother’s life which greatly affect both Piper and Leo.
9: ‘Ms. Hellfire’
A hit woman is on the trail of the Charmed Ones. When she’s foiled, Prue ends up going undercover as the assassin (Ms Hellfire) to find out who was hiring her to do the deed. The sisters work hard to prevent any further killing and end up going against an old enemy.
10: ‘Heartbreak City’
Cupid needs help. Drazi, a demon, has stolen a powerful ring of Cupid’s and is trying to use it to destroy all relationships. Prue uses her newly discovered power of astral projection to help defeat the demon. And though it doesn’t get Phoebe a date, at least she gets a kiss from Cupid.
11: ‘Reckless Abandon’
The Charmed Ones protect a baby from a ghost which is intent on killing every male in a family line. They need to speak to the familial matriarch (played by Stephanie Beacham) to try and discover the reason for this vendetta.
Piper contracts a fatal disease and is hospitalised and in a coma. Prue and Phoebe ignore the ‘no personal gain’ rule to cast and awakening spell with dramatic effect. The virus becomes an epidemic and now the sisters have some big decisions to make. Once sorted, Prue quits her job, Phoebe enrols in University and Piper’s love triangle needs a bit of unravelling.
13: ‘Animal Pragmatism’
Some of Piper’s new University friends decide to cast an amateur spell, but unfortunately Phoebe has given them a helping hand jokingly, so the spell works and turns three animals into male companions for the girls. Unfortunately, they can’t keep their animal instincts at bay so the Halliwells need to get involved.
14: ‘Pardon My Past’
Phoebe has flashbacks of her past this time, to the 1920s when the sisters were cousins and Phoebe was evil. With some confusion and time-jumping, the episode explores some of Phoebe’s past life and has her and her past-life incarnation swapping places for a while.
15: ‘Give Me A Sign’
Bane (criminal mastermind from Ms Hellfire episode) escapes prison and enlists Prue to help him, rekindling romance between the two. She is persuaded to help save Bane from a demon who is after him. Meanwhile Phoebe helps Piper with a spell to help her choose between Leo and Dan which leaves her confused.
16: ‘Murphy's Luck’
When Prue steps in to prevent a suicide, a darklighter (Arnold Vosloo) who has been spurring people towards depression turns his attention towards Prue, encouraging her to commit suicide.
17: ‘How to Make a Quilt Out of Americans’
When an old family friend asks the Halliwells to help stop a demon, the sisters get involved immediately. Of course, they don’t realise that said friend has made a deal with the demon to exchange their powers in return for youth!
18: ‘Chick Flick’
When a demon of illusions starts to bring B-movie characters back to life, the sisters get some interesting fights. One of Phoebe’s favourite black and white heroes is also freed from the silver screen so she gets a touch of romance in her life. Until it’s time to say goodbye to both heroes and villains.
19: ‘Ex Libris’
Dan tells Piper that Leo has a wife which is bad news all round! Phoebe, meanwhile, gets involved in helping the ghost of a former classmate.
20: ‘Astral Monkey’
The doctor that looked after Piper back when she was ill discovers the secret of her sudden cure and finds himself the recipient of all the Halliwells’ powers. With magic inside and the need to save his dying sister, he goes on an organ harvest and the sisters have to stop him.
21: ‘Apocalypse Not’
Prue and one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse become trapped in another dimension. Phoebe and Piper work together with the remaining Horsemen to free them both or face them dying – leading to quite a climactic ending.
22: ‘Be Careful What You Witch For’
French Stewart guest stars as a tricksy genie who grants each of the sisters a wish at the behest of a warlock, of course. Things come to a head with Dan and eventually they are resolved.
Charmed is presented in its original 4:3 here. And the picture quality isn’t great but is apparently close to the broadcast quality of the time. There’s noticeable grain and the picture is quite soft. If you’re looking, there’s plenty of small problems with the picture, but it appears about the same as the quality on the season 1 release – not great, but as the show was shown. Colours and skin tones are good, as are blacks. It’s just the pixilation, grain and softness that takes away from the quality.
The audio is provided in Dolby 2.0, and is fine and clear with dialogue distinct throughout. There’s not a vast amount of stereo separation, but as the focus is dialogue, it doesn’t have a massive effect here.
An easy section to write as there are no special features provided here. I hope this changes for subsequent series, and I have a feeling it will when we get past the Shannen Doherty era, but honestly... there must have been some promo slots or something they could have added here!
Fans of Charmed will be glad that the series continues to be released in these instalments, behind the R2 ones perhaps, but certainly a lot cheaper! It’s a shame about the lack of extras, but at least the show is preserved and shown in its original quality. It may not be a series for everyone, but if you like your drama with a touch of the supernatural and a healthy dose of cheese then this might just your cup of tea.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 07:51:11