Friday, April 27, 2012

Charmed Season Three

The major theme in season three was love and romance.  Now that Piper and her white lighter boyfriend Leo have determined that they do indeed love each other, Leo proposes.  Unfortunately, the powers that be do not believe that a White lighter and a witch should be together.  They decide that their love is meant to be and they attempt to get thwart the rules and get married anyway.  The course of life and love of course does not run smooth and several incidents occur which stop the marriage.  When they do finally have authorization for a ceremony, it is stopped when Prue's other half decides to break loose and in the process destroys Piper's wedding cake and takes off with a guy on a motorcycle. Piper has a huge fit and declares that she and Leo are not meant to be married.  Her ghost mother and human father talk to her and finally Piper consents and the wedding finally occurs with her dead grandmother officiating.  By the time these two finally got married, I had reached the point of not really caring anymore.

The other major romance of he season was between Phoebe and Cole the half human half demon.  Cole original appears in the lives of the Charmed ones to kill them.  He even travels back in time to try and thwart the birth of their great great great great grandmother but is stopped in time.  With each effort to kill the Charmed Ones, he becomes more conflicted because he is falling in love with Phoebe.  For her part, Phoebe knows that Cole is keeping something from her, but she cannot figure out what.  In the end she of course finds out about his demon heritage but cannot bring herself to vanquish him because she lurves him.  This means that she must lie to her sisters about vanquishing Cole.  Phoebe gets turned into a banshee because of the pain she feels at losing Cole and though he killed an innocent they decide they cannot live without each other.  Lord the angst.

Alyssa Milano, who played Phoebe and Julian McMahon who played Cole have absolutely zero chemistry between them. It was absolutely painful to watch any scene in which they declared their love or kissed.  At times I found myself closing my eyes.  This has to be some of the worst casting ever to make it to television.  Shannen Doherty and Julian McMahon, actually had much better chemistry. If that were not enough, having to deal with the oh, he's evil, no, he's good I swear, back and forth was tiring and at times outright boring.

In this third season, the sisters powers begin to increase.  Piper now has the ability to vanquish and speed up molecules, while Phoebe can levitate.  Phoebe is the youngest Halliwell sister but despite being in her final year of college, she has actually regressed rather than matured.  Her character is absolutely infantalized.  This includes her famous pouty face, and a high pitched voice. They try to cover this infantialization by occasionally having Phoebe spout something she learned in class but it simply makes her appear like a little girl pretending to be a grown up, rather than having her be the adult woman that she is.

Even though the Halliwell's are essentially fighting the source on the side of good, much of this season was once again villain of the week.  The entire plot for the season was held together by the romances between Leo and Piper and Phoebe and Cole.  There were a few characters of colour this season but once again the portrayals were problematic. In The Good, the Bad and the Cursed, Prue and Cole must travel back in time to stop the death of Bo Lightfeather because he and Phoebe have become linked.  Bo does not end up dying but only because he agrees to sacrifice himself so that the White townspeople can learn courage.  Does it get anymore noble Indian than that?  In Death Takes a Halliwell,  Inspector Reece Davidson, who is investigating the disappearance of Cole has to die so that Prue can learn that you cannot fight death and that death is neither good or evil, so that she can finally come to terms with her mother's death.  In Prewitced, Ariel shows up long enough to die on screen and to warn the sisters that they are up against a cat familiar who betrayed her. This is yet another example of a person of colour dying to aid the Halliwells. In Bride and Gloom, Dantalian, played by Una Damon forced Prue to marry a demon in order to turn the book of shadows evil. On one hand Dantalian quickly overcomes Zile however she is still the evil Asian woman to the Halliwell's ever so pure Whiteness.  Det. Darryl Morris continues to be the only reoccurring character of colour but at this point he has been reduced to a servant of the Halliwell's.  There was absolutely no character development this season for him. 

As much as the representation of characters of colour was terrible, this season, Charmed once again avoided a single GLBT character and disabled characters.  Given their ableist treatment of disability in season one, I am somewhat relieved however, it makes no sense to set a show in San Fransisco and not even have a single GLBT character. I know that this show originally aired in the 90's but that does not give it a pass for its continued erasure.

After three seasons, I really don't see Charmed going anywhere.  Sure it has the strong fighting women, who actually pass the Bechdel test but beyond that, there is either outright erasure or problematic characters.  The plot seems to be more married to the love lives of the sisters than anything else.  There is nothing tying the demons together from week to week.  This season they did spend a little bit more money on special effects but this came at a cost of great bands appearing at P3.  I suppose the best way to describe the show Charmed is fluff, but that doesn't make it entertaining viewing.