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Charmed: The Complete First Season
Charmed is a series that manages to entertain while revolving around a simple premise: magical sisters defeating bad guys. The series was created by Constance M. Burge (who also wrote for series such as Royal Pains). The story focuses on sisters Piper (Holly Marie Combs), Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), and Prue (Shannen Doherty) who return to their old home together after the passing of the grandmother. When the trio reunites the sisters discover that there was more than just a home left for the three of them: each sister has the ability to use witchcraft. They are "charmed ones" and can use supernatural powers. Spooky!
Over the course of the story these sisters become more intertwined in each other's lives. Each character begins learning how to use their magic abilities to ward off evil monsters. The series was wise to give each character a unique set of magical powers that they use and discover over the course of the set. It keeps the magical aspect of the series interesting.
While the series follows a pretty basic formula which features a host of different monsters to take down in weekly episodes the series has some continuation as well with romantic sub-plots and the developing drama between the characters lives. The performances by the cast ground the series by giving it a more human-touch with Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and Shannen Doherty bringing their unique talents to each episode. These actresses are charming in the respective roles and make the series far more enjoyable.
From a production standpoint, the series has some excellent work from it's varied group of artists behind the scenes. The series includes a whole host of talented directors, including work done by director John T. Kretchmer (Veronica Mars, iZombie) and score by Jay Gruska (Supernatural). The costumes are also quite effective for the series. Production designs are above average for television. Unfortunately, the special effects work feels underwhelming at times (which is one of the biggest drawbacks). If one can look past the spotty CGI the majority of the series production values are worthwhile.
Charmed might not feel as epic in scope as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and some of the other more highly regarded supernatural television series but it's still a noteworthy show made more enjoyable through its excellent cast. The season finale is tense and exciting and leaves one wanting to watch more. Charmed doesn't break any new ground but now that a reboot is airing on The CW it's nice to see the original is arriving on Blu-ray for the first time.
Charmed arrives on Blu-ray for the first time with 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation. While the series was originally broadcast in 1.33:1 full frame this release presents the series in 1.78:1 widescreen. The good news is this appears to be an opened up widescreen presentation and not a cropped presentation as the framing appears to be quite excellent. The jump to HD is a big one. The colors are robust, resolution increase is quite remarkable, and the presentation has a nice filmic look to it. It's hard to imagine any fans of the series walking away disappointed. This is a big upgrade.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps. Yes, you read that correctly. For anyone who hoped the quality high-definition video would be accompanied with great lossless audio, think again. The audio is on the low-quality side of average streaming platforms or a standard DVD. This lacks the higher quality of a 24 bit resolution mix or HD audio presentation and is instead merely passable. It's no better than the DVD audio (no worse).
Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing) and French.
There are no extras on this release.
Charmed arrives on Blu-ray for the first time. Fans of the series will delight in revisiting the show with the superb picture-quality on this high-definition release. While the set lacks in the audio department (as well as when it comes to extras: there are none) it's still a noteworthy upgrade over the DVD's. Uber-fans should take note.
The biggest downside to this release might be the mere fact that Paramount has a spotty track record when it comes to releasing entire series on Blu-ray. One can only hope that the HD restorations are entirely released on the format over time (or even, preferably, in a complete series set) rather than simply ending up on HD streaming somewhere down the road.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.