The Third Season
Charmed is a television series about the three Halliwell sisters, who in their mid-twenties discovered they are witches with magical powers. As an added bonus, they find out that they are good witches and they are supposed to use their powers only for noble altruistic acts. And in no case should they use it for personal gain (which they have tried to on a few occasions in past seasons and there are always important lessons and repercussions to be learned). In the first season, we learn that they are a staple against evil, and highly covenanted by dark forces. Their powers hold great potential for evil warlocks and demons. The sisters are made up of Prue (Shannen Doherty), the older sister with the ability to move physical matter with her mind, Piper (Holly Marie Combs), the middle child with the ability to freeze time within a confined space, and finally the youngest sister Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), who has the power of second sight--she can see past, present, future by coming into contact with an object or a person. For more details about this series and its characters, please refer to my reviews of season one and season two.
Season three is a pretty big deal for series' fans and viewers. It is Shannen Doherty's last season as a cast member. She appears in all of season three's twenty-two episodes and in season four she is replaced by the new character Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan). Since I haven't seen much of McGowan in the series, (I stopped paying attention to the series after Doherty left) I can't really say to whether or not this change was a good thing. On the one hand if you have read my season one or two reviews, you'll know I haven't been holding the show with very high regard, despite I used to enjoy watching an episode here and there when it first aired. However, I am at an impasse now because I thought this was a good season.
Overall, season three was handled better than the first two seasons. My problem with the earlier seasons is that the episodes and storylines were fairly generic. In most cases the episodes were overly predictable and repetitive. To my surprise, the third season deviates from the previous model found in the first two seasons. Instead of being predictable and repetitive, the season included plenty of variation, although that is not to say it wasn't a complete surprise of originality. Instead let's just say it was just much better. There are several different aspects that provide this season with its new edge.
Firstly a new character, Cole Turner (Julian McHahon), was introduced and he added a lot of intrigue to the season. What made this character so interesting was the relationship he developed with the Charmed Ones. More specifically how it came to be. In the early part of the season, he was introduced as the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting a case involving Darryl and the sisters. This is how he found his way into the girls' lives. As the season progressed Cole's true nature was revealed. He is a half human, half demon working on behalf of the Triad and the Source to eliminate the sisters. Unfortunately for the bad guys, Cole's human half develops feelings for Pheobe and he gets caught on the brink between good and evil. He becomes an integral part of this season and the stories involving him and the sisters are what I really enjoyed most about this season.
Something else that worked for this season is another sappy love story. In the earlier seasons we've witnessed the chemistry develop between Piper and Leo (the girls' Whitelighter, guide and guardian angel) and they finally try to make their relationship permanent. It is a side story that finds itself surfacing in nearly every episode. Next we have Inspector Daryl Morris. He is the detective who was partnered with Andy in season one and since has been suspicious about the sisters' actions. In season two he learned about them being witches and in season three he plays a stronger part in the stories.
Lastly we have a general story that ties into Cole Turner, the Triad, and the Source. In past seasons there have been hints to what the Triad is, three old guys in robes who chant and summon demons. This season pushes that story forward with the evil side taking a more active role in killing the charmed ones. In addition the Source, the big bad guy in charge, also plays a bigger role in the overall scheme of things. The bigger picture of good and evil fighting a war against each other adds another layer of excitement.
Together it is these aspects that make this season much stronger than the first two. In addition the stories seem to be better written and offer slightly more diversity in the bad guys--demons, warlocks, etc. The season also included some story arcs that were handled fairly well. Both of which are complaints I had with the earlier seasons, because they were lacking. However while I have praised this season so far, it isn't without fault. The acting performances from some of the supporting roles, i.e. the villain of the week, tend to be pretty poor. Despite, this season came off a lot stronger and I think this season is worthy of a recommended rating.
1. The Honeymoon's Over
2. Magic Hour
3. Once Upon A Time
4. All Halliwell's Eve
5. Sigh Unseen
6. Primrose Empath
7. Power Outage
8. Sleuthing With The Enemy
9. Coyote Piper
10. We All Scream For Ice Cream
11. Blinded By The Whitelighter
12. Wrestling With Demons
13. Bride And Groom
14. The Good, The Bad And The Cursed
15. Just Harried
16. Death Takes A Halliwell
18. Sin Francisco
19. The Demon Who Came In From The Cold
20. Exit Strategy
21. Look Who's Barking
22. All Hell Breaks Loose
This DVD release is given in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The picture quality is viewable. Most viewers will not be troubled with the quality, but some may notice that it has its faults. The image has a noticeable grain that is really noticeable during dark scenes. There are also a few occurrences of compression artifacts in the picture.
The audio track in this release is in English and French 2.0 Dolby digital stereo. The audio in this release comes off fairly flat. However as with most TV on DVD releases it's not necessarily bad, as the majority of the audio is spoken dialogue. The sound quality is good, providing an audible and clean audio track. Music comes off fairly rich and sound effects tend to take advantage of the right and left channels. This release comes equipped with closed captioning.
There are no extras included with this DVD release.
This season of Charmed is significant, because it is the last season Shannen Doherty is on cast and it is also a big improvement over the first two seasons. In general the stories strayed away from the very generic format introduced in season one. Instead the stories add more intrigue and interest by including story arcs about the characters and their relationships, a bigger picture of the battle between good and evil, the introduction of the new character Cole Turner, and Inspector Morris playing a bigger part in the episodes. Together these aspects made this season a lot more entertaining and I'm looking forward to seeing how season four pans out without Doherty playing the dominant role.