The Eighth & Final 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. 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. For more details about this series and its characters, please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one, season two, season three, season four, season five, season six, and season seven.
Season eight is a major turning point in the series, as it marks the show's final episodes. The quality is definitely weaker than previous seasons. The major weakness in season eight is that its quality jumps around. It starts with strong storyline about the sisters and the introduction of a new character, and then slowly declines. The midseason episodes move into an episodic format that resembles the early series "demon of the week". A few of these episodes prove to be enjoyable, but most feel like rehashed tales with little new. Towards the end of the season, things start to pick back up with a good storyline that involves the new character, her sister, and a massive battle with the Charmed Ones. All in all, season eight is not Charmed at its best, but it still has enough enjoyable content to keep fans appeased.
The season begins with the Charmed Ones trying to enjoy the aftermath of their final battle with Zankou. The sisters are presumed dead by the general public, the heavens, and the underworld. They take advantage of the opportunity to free themselves of their witchly duties. The sisters use magic to take on new identities. With their new appearances, they pretend to be the Halliwell's distant cousins, who have come to pick up the strands of the deceased sisters' lives. The facade is to provide the sisters with normal, demon-free lives. However, they learn that it is impossible to hide from their destinies. As the season progresses, they revert back to their original duties, while trying to maintain "normal" lives.
Billie Jenkins (Kaley Cuoco) is a new character who is introduced in the season eight premiere. She is a young and inexperienced twenty-year old college student. Not too long ago she realized she was a witch. Without any guidance, she learned to use her powers to fight demons and bad guys. While hunting a demon more powerful than she could handle, her path crossed with Paige. Soon after, Billie joins the sisters to learn the ropes of witchdom. Billie acts as the sisters' focal point into the world, fighting demons so that they can focus on their social and professional lives. As a character, Billie is not the strongest. Cuoco is far from convincing in her role and comes off a little too over-the-top (even for this show). Consequently, her character feels out of place at times.
As the season progresses and Billie learning the ropes is a focal point for storylines, as well as the sisters' dramatic lives. Piper and Leo have marital issues and discover that their relationship isn't as solid as it used to be. Phoebe goes through a personal crisis when she decides she wants to settle down, fall in love, and have children. Romance is a buzzword in her life. Paige focuses on teaching Billie about being witch, as well as comes to terms with her Whitelighter-ness. She also falls in love with a mortal, which gets pretty serious.
Another fairly big development is the Charmed Ones teaming up with the Department of Homeland Security. In past seasons, they have been the target of paranormal investigations by the government. However, when Billie is caught using magic in front of Agent Murphy (Brandon Quinn), the sisters reveal the truth about who they are to him. The girls work with Agent Murphy to put away bad guys.
Billie's back story plays a big role in the second half of the season. When Billie was a young girl her older sister, Christy (Marne Patterson) was kidnapped. It turns out that a demon took her. Christy grew up in the underworld, with demons. Christy is tied in with the Triad and plays a major role in a massive battle against the Charmed Ones. This storyline turns out to be one of the more exciting developments of the season, despite Billie being a weak character.
Overall, the season eight story arcs offer some fairly big developments and enjoyable plotlines with the sisters and a few new faces. The unfortunate part is that these story arcs do not encompass the entire season. Instead, there are several episodic storylines that tend to be uneventful and lackluster scattered in between. In the end, Charmed's eighth and final season is best reserved for the fans. It is definitely not the show at its best.
1. Still Charmed And Kicking: Presumed dead, the Charmed sisters start a demon-free existence with new identities, but Paige can't escape her Whitelighter instincts and answers the call of a young witch named Billie.
2. Malice In Wonderland: The Charmed Ones come to Billie's rescue when she tries to stop Haas, a young demon who wants to lure the sisters out of hiding and take over the Underworld.
3. Run, Piper, Run: When Piper's adopted appearance as a woman wanted for murder gets her arrested, the sisters and Billie set out to clear the woman's name.
4. Desperate Housewitches: Piper's son, Wyatt, is kidnapped by Mandi, a demon in disguise who wants to use the boy's powers to bring back The Source and create the perfect demon family.
5. Rewitched: Billie jeopardizes the Charmed Ones' new lives when she uses her powers and is caught by Homeland Security Agent Murphy, who suspects the Halliwell sisters are not dead.
6. Kill Billie: Vol. 1: After Billie freezes in fear upon seeing her demon target, The Dogan, she opens up to The Charmed Ones about a Halloween long ago when a demon kidnapped her sister.
7. The Lost Picture Show: Paige's Whitelighter father, Sam, asks for her help when his charge, J.D., escapes from Vaklav, a demon who holds people hostage inside an evil photo collage.
8. Battle Of The Hexes: Phoebe and Billie discover a belt with superpowers that can turn the sexes against one another, while a power-hungry female demon uses Billie to achieve female domination.
9. Hulkus Pocus: When Billie is infected by a government-created virus that causes magical beings to "hulk out," Piper and Leo race against time to find an antidote to save her life.
10. Vaya Con Leos: Piper turns to The Elders and The Avatars to save Leo from The Angel of Death, while Phoebe and Billie hunt for Billie's sister and meet Burke, a demonic bounty hunter who freezes his victims into trophies.
11. Mr. & Mrs. Witch: When Billie discovers the power of projection, she inadvertently transforms her parents into cold-blooded assassins who are then hired to kill the CEO of a powerful company.
12. Payback's A Witch: Paige tries to help Henry's parolee, Nick, get a loan at a bank, but when the loan is denied, Nick crashes his car into the bank and holds everyone hostage.
13. Repo Manor: When The Charmed Ones consider moving, they're forced to stay under the same roof by a demon that miniaturizes and imprisons them inside a dollhouse replica of the Manor.
14. 12 Angry Zen: Piper searches for information about Leo and discovers a message from Lo Pan, a monk and keeper of a sacred Buddhist staff containing the power of influence.
15. The Last Temptation Of Christy: Paige is torn between dating mortal Henry or a magical suitor who proposes marriage, while Billie finds her sister, Christy, who has been held captive by demons for several years.
16. Engaged And Confused: Paige and Henry's cold feet put their engagement in jeopardy. Meanwhile, a demon kidnaps Christy in order to lure The Charmed Ones into attacking the Triad and prevent them from taking over the Underworld.
17. Generation Hex: Piper is forced to take charge when Leo's teen proteges come to the manor seeking refuge from the demons that have overtaken the Magic School.
18. The Torn Identity: Phoebe must choose between mortal or magical love, while Piper interrogates the demons who killed Billie and Christy's parents to prove that they were connected to the "Ultimate Power".
19. The Jung And The Restless: When Phoebe and Piper formulate a plan to get Leo back, Christy traps them in a dreamstate to prove to Billie that the sisters' "inner-truths" are driven by selfishness.
20. Gone With The Witches: Billie and Christy team up to destroy the reputations of The Charmed Ones and force them into hiding in the Underworld.
21. Kill Billie: Vol. 2: In order to defeat Billie and Christy, The Charmed Ones conjure The Hollow, the most powerful force known to man, which leads to a devastating battle.
22. Forever Charmed: Piper enlists Coop's help to travel back in time and change the events that led to the deaths of Phoebe and Paige.
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 2.0 Dolby digital stereo. There are also dubbed tracks in Spanish and French. The audio 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.
There are subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. There is also support for closed captioning.
Unlike past season sets, Charmed: The Final Season comes with extras. It is unfortunate that earlier seasons did not have any extras, but nice that fans will have a chance to learn more about the show from a "behind the scenes" perspective. The extras include three audio commentaries and several featurettes about the show's creation, production, the primary set, major changes, and thoughts from fans. Here is the breakdown:
- Audio Commentaries: are included for episodes "Still Charmed And Kicking" with Brad Kern, Kaley Cuoco, and James Conway, "Vaya Con Leos" with Brad Kern, Brian Krause, and Cameron Litvack, and "Forever Charmed" with Brad Kern and James Conway.
- The Making of Charmed (18:06): is a featurette about the making of Charmed. It begins with E. Duke Vincent talking about the difficulty of making a series with special effects based on science fiction and fantasy. It continues with others such as Doug E. Jones, Brad Kern, Jeannine Renshaw, Andy Reaser, James L. Conway, Todd Tucker, Daniela Gschwendtner, Randy Cabral, Noon Orsatti, Jonathan West, Peter Chomsky, and Stephen Lebed. The topics of discussion include writers & writing, creating/developing storylines, special effects, costume designs, stunts, production, visual effects, etc.
- Story of Charmed: Genesis (17:52): is a featurette focused on the creation of the series. The discussion begins with the WB's desire to have a strong follow up to 7th Heaven. An initial concept was put together with three best friends, who were witches. The show eventually became what Charmed is today. It stars Jonathan Levin, Constance M. Burge, E. Duke Vincent, Brad Kern, Krista Vernoff, Sheryl J. Anderson, Diana G. Gallagher, Holly Marie Combs, and Henry Alonso Myers. They also discuss casting, unaired pilot, network/studio/crew issues defining what the show is, the characters, the mythology, etc. What I liked most about this featurette were the clips of the unaired pilot, as well as the detailed discussion about it. It is only too bad the unaired pilot wasn't included as an extra.
- Story of Charmed: Charmed Again (20:05): is featurette about various changes in the series. The specific topics include Paige replacing Prue, season story arcs with big bad guys like The Source and The Triad, and major supporting characters (Cole Turner, Leo Wyatt, baby Wyatt, Chris, Billie Jenkins). It stars Jonathan Levin, Krista Vernoff, Andy Reaser, Rose McGowan, Holly Marie Combs, Curtis Kheel, Diana G. Gallagher, Alyssa Milano, Henry Alonso Myers, Brian Krause, Drew Fuller, and Kaley Cuoco.
- To the Manor Born (9:38): opens with production designer Paul Staheli. The featurette continues with a tour of the Halliwel manor, which has been the primary set of the show for its eight seasons. It also stars Diana G. Gallagher, James L. Conway, Kaley Cuoco, Brian Krause, Brad Kern, Jeannine Renshaw, E. Duke Vincent, Krista Vernoff, Rose McGowan, Noon Orastti, Jennifer Rhoes, James Reed, Mark Wilding, Andy Reaser, and Jon Pare.
- Forever Charmed (11:25): is a compilation of interview footage with real fans. The show begins with a bunch of praise and then continues with more discussion about what the various individuals enjoyed about it. Cast and crew members (Henry Alonso Myers, James Read, James L. Conway, Brad Kern, Doug E. Jones, Cameron Litvack, Jeannine Renshaw, Mark Wilding, Drew Fuller, Sheryl J. Anderson, Rose McGowan, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano) make brief comments.
Charmed is a television series about three magical witches who are destined to fight evil. The show has seen some big developments in its eight season run. This review addressed the show's final season, which is not the best of the bunch. The problem is that the quality varies with some solid story arcs and several weak "demon of the week" episodes that feel too much like the last. Fans of the series will definitely want to pick up this season set, as it does detail the final moments of Charmed and for the first time ever comes with extras.