Shannen Doherty plays a witch in this reteaming of the former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star with producer Aaron Spelling, and despite the obvious opportunities for cheap shots regarding casting, “Charmed” is almost quaint, with Doherty acquitting herself well and the production playing with an engaging spark.
Still, let’s not go nuts here. This show will make no one forget “Party of Five” (its formidable head-to-head timeslot competitor), nor does it even stand up all that well alongside “Bewitched.” “Charmed” is, however, spectacularly inoffensive, and some pre-teens may find it a pretty riveting way to kill an hour.
Pilot from scribe/co-executive producer Constance M. Burge sets up the premise of the three feuding Halliwell sisters suddenly being bestowed supernatural powers. There’s Prue (Doherty), a novice museum curator and world-class flirt; Phoebe (the all-grown-up Alyssa Milano), a free-spirited, self-absorbed conspiracy buff; and Piper (Holly Marie Combs), chef wannabe.
The Halliwells are uptight and neurotic from the get-go, particularly once Phoebe returns to town after months and months away. Seems she left after Prue accused her of chasing her very own boyfriend (those “90210” habits die hard).
But now the ladies have bigger fish to fry while living in the scary San Francisco house they inherited from grandma, particularly once they discover they’re all descended from a witch coven.
That’ll teach ’em to read literature like “The Book of Shadows,” play with the Ouija board and hang with warlocks.
Quicker than you can say “hocus pocus,” the young ladies possess the ability to make objects move, or cook things without moving (something to make us all jealous) or make people hurt without touching them. It all comes in pretty handy when the murderous warlocks come calling and they were too busy practicing telekinesis to put dinner on.
“Charmed” has an entertaining little way about it, with Spelling and company mostly striking a solid balance between escapist slap-schtick and mild horror. If the opening hour isn’t terribly concerned with issues of believability, relatability and self-parody (pilot is notably short on humor), it’s likely a saucy enough brew for the WB’s target 12-24 demo to swallow.
As for Doherty, she’s never been witchier. ‘Nuff said.
Tech credits are fine enough.