The bad witchcraft of 'Charmed': Too much sloganeering, not enough action

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera, Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn, Rupert Evans as Harry Greenwood, and Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera on the new <em>Charmed.</em> (Photo: the CW)
Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera, Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn, Rupert Evans as Harry Greenwood, and Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera on the new Charmed. (Photo: the CW)

In the run-up to the premiere of the new CW version of Charmed, there was some controversy about the reboot, emanating from the original trio of witches, Shannon Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and noted Supreme Court hearing-attendee Alyssa Milano. All three, in various ways, expressed dissatisfaction with the show. Their complaints ranged from an accusation of ageism (Combs: “I will never understand what is fierce, funny, or feminist in creating a show that basically says the original actresses are too old to do a job they did 12 years ago”) to irritation at not being creative consultants (Milano: “I wish that they would have come to us and we would have been involved since the beginning”). I can’t remember another show that was being launched with such ill will expressed by the original cast, although I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me Tom Selleck bites his tongue in suppressed rage every time that new lousy version of Magnum P.I. airs.

So, is the new Charmed worth all the advance hatred? Not in the slightest. This thing is destined to implode before Holly Marie Combs’s temper subsides. The new version of Charmed is so overloaded with progressive political sloganeering, the writers forgot to write in some action. The reboot stars Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery, and Madeleine Mantock as Mel, Maggie, and Macy, the three witch-sisters. The pilot episode begins with the death of their witch-mom, who’d been keeping the girls’ witch status a secret. Upon discovering their powers — Mel can freeze time, Maggie reads thoughts, and Macy moves things around with her mind — they unite to avenge Mom’s death and fight evil.

That is, whenever they’re not telling us how bad “rape culture,” “cis-male” men, and sororities in general are. Mel walks past a couple making out and stops to tell the woman that she has to give her “consent” to be smooched. Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman is giving interviews saying things like, “The original was so much about female empowerment and sisterhood and women taking over the world, and I think we need that right now,” and the deluge of empowerment is relentless, repetitive, and boring.

The supernatural elements of the plot seem borrowed from old episodes of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The special effects are super-cheesy, not much better than an old episode of Bewitched. The only truly eerie thing about the pilot, filmed months ago, occurs when the chief villain yells angrily, “This is a witch hunt!” in a tone highly similar to Brett Kavanaugh’s.

When it comes to shows about people coping with their superpowers, I much prefer the CW’s Black Lightning, which had an excellent second-season premiere last week.

Charmed airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on the CW.

Watch: Cast of rebooted Charmed defends itself against the haters:

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