Charmed: The Final Season (2006)

Genre(s): Comedy / Drama / Fantasy
Paramount || NR - 918 minutes - $49.99 || September 11, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-09-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): NA
Cast: Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, Holly Marie Combs, Brian Krause, Kaley Cuoco


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Select Episode Commentary
  • Story of Charmed Documentary
  • To The Manor Born
  • Forever Charmed


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Stereo Surround), French (Dolby Stereo Surround), Spanish (Dolby Stereo Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

I’ve been a minor fan of the “Charmed” series over the years, catching a vast majority of episodes via syndication on TNT. My primary exposure were in seasons 1 through 5 off and on, so I came into this, the eighth and final season, with minimal knowledge of the Charmed Ones.

After season seven ended with the Halliwell sisters “dead” but living as other people so they may lead a “normal” life outside of magic and demons. Many within the “Charmed” production felt this was going to the series finale only to be surprised that The WB green lit one last season. Now executive producer Brad Kern could air a proper ending to the long-running series, an ending that would be satisfying both in quality and in a sweet farewell to die-hard fans.

Season 8’s overarching story follows freshman witch Billie Jenkins (Cuoco) and her search for her long lost sister taken by a demon when she was a child. Mixing in with this, the show still centers on the Charmed sisters and inner and outer battles with the demons and their own lives. If you’re a fan at all of the series, I doubt I need to go into much more detail, but for those who don’t know, things are not so simple for the Halliwells as the evil elements in the demon underworld makes their lives difficult... to say the least.

Despite a vast reduction in budget per episode, this eighth season is still strong with style, acting and story. Many series end because of ratings or decline in quality, though some go out on their own terms (“Seinfeld”, “Friends”, “M*A*S*H”), and even though “Charmed” was not a ratings juggernaut, they did not take the cowards way out and just slouch their way through the season.

A few strong episodes highlight season eight. Obviously “Kill Billie: Vol. 2” and “Forever Charmed”, which are the 2-part series finale, were great, but I also felt “Vaya Con Leos” was especially strong being Brian Krause’s (Leo) temporary departure (due to budget). Other episodes are good, although early on with the introduction of Billie, it almost felt like “Buffy”-redux, but even the blonde and bubbly Kaley Cuoco makes the character both likeable and at least an interesting contrast to the Halliwells.

If the season had one drawback it would be the finale, even though it was good, it did not have that big villain showdown I expected or hoped. I guess this is a minor quibble in a season and a series overall that was entertaining as hell. Of course, perhaps it was much more satisfying for the true fans.

One also cannot ignore the fact this is one of the few series that featured females in the lead in this fashion. “Buffy” began a year before on The WB but I think “Charmed” took female power to another level. Thankfully, while women can watch and admire the leads, males could also tune in to see three gorgeous women kicking ass. My friends, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Episode Breakdown:
1. Still Charmed and Kicking
2. Malice in Wonderland
3. Run, Piper, Run
4. Desperate Housewitches
5. Rewitched
6. Kill Billie: Vol. 1
7. The Lost Picture Show
8. Battle of the Hexes
9. Hulkus Pocus
10. Vaya Con Leos
11. Mr. & Mrs. Witch
12. Payback’s a Witch
13. Repo Manor
14. 12 Angry Zen
15. The Last Temptation of Christy
16. Engaged and Confused
17. Generation Hex
18. The Torn Identity
19. The Jung and the Restless
20. Gone with the Witches
21. Kill Billie: Vol. 2
22. Forever Charmed




.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Before I delve into features, I must note that Paramount changed out music including the opening theme, “How Soon is Now” to a standard score. To me, this is on par with Sony doing the same to “Dawson’s Creek”. The back of the box states: “Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions. Music has been changed for this home entertainment version.” I don’t know what was edited but I didn’t really noticed anything off about the episodes.

It’s great, however, to state that unlike the other “Charmed” releases, Paramount has actually put special features on this set. Hell, a short promo piece would’ve been a step up from those other releases.

Select Episode Commentaries - Three key episodes get commentaries: “Still Charmed and Kicking” includes executive producer/writer Brad Kern, co-executive producer/director James Conway and actress Kaley Cuoco (Billie); “Vaya Con Leos” with Kern, director Cameron Litvack and actor Brian Krause (Leo); and lastly “Forever Charmed” with Kern and Conway. While it would’ve been fantastic to have at least one if not all three of the Charmed Ones, it was still nice to get something. All three commentaries feature some fun bits of trivia and especially the series finale sheds light on a few issues like why Shannon Doherty’s picture was not amongst the others (apparently they’d have to pay $10k to use a picture due to some episodic deal or something).

The Making of “Charmed” (17:51) - Producers and cast members talk about how the show is made every week and takes the viewer from costume design to visual effects.

Story of “Charmed”: Genesis (16:49) - Part 1 of a 2-part extensive history guide into the series. This featurette covers the early days of “Charmed” going from its inception and wrangling with The WB in terms of casting, which includes an unaired pilot episode with someone else playing Phoebe, to Shannon Doherty’s departure in the third season.

Story of “Charmed”: Charmed Again (18:57) - This second part covers the Rose McGowan era from seasons four through eight. It also expands more on this season and the budget cuts from the studio yet still having to add characters (like Billie and Henry). Together, Genesis and Charmed Again make a good all-encompassing history on the series and clocking in at a combined 36-minutes, it makes up for the barebones releases of the previous seasons.

To the Manor Born (9:05) - We got a history trip on the series and now the inanimate character gets its own short featurette. Executive producer Duke Vincent takes us on a tour of the house. Sprinkled in are comments from the cast and crew on their thoughts on their home away from home.

Forever Charmed (10:52) - The fans get their due with a featurette covering the strong fan base, especially on the Net.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The series is presented in its original full frame presentation and like any recent TV show, it looks almost perfect. Color levels look nice and the skin tones look about right as well. All in all, a fine transfer all things considered.

A Dolby stereo surround mix is standard and although it sounds OK, I see (or heard) no reason why one needs to use a sound system. Fight sequences don’t make use out of the speakers save for maybe the center and front speakers, even then it’s pretty low key. No, your TV speakers should suffice for a show like this.



.::OVERALL::.

I may be a “Charmed” newbie compared to some, but even as one, the series overall has been enjoyable and as a final season, producers and the rest did a fine job sending the show off with style and closure for the fans. “Charmed” may not get mention among the best series to come and go, but for my money, I think it’s only a notch or two below “Buffy” and “Angel” in the fantasy genre.

As for the DVD, it’s nice that Paramount finally released a set with features and what’s there isn’t mere fluff but material worthwhile to both fans and newbies alike. I think more from the three stars would’ve been nice (like working together for 5 or 8 years), but I can’t complain too much.