Sunday, 11 July 2010

Charmed: Oh my goddess! Parts 1 and 2

With thanks to Amanda for lending me the DVD!

I’ve never watched Charmed in my life before, so I’m afraid I have no idea what’s going on in the wider story here, other than that, since it’s season 5, one of the original three has left and been replaced by a ‘lost’ sister played by the blonde woman from Scream. What follows is more or less a stream of conciousness type record of thoughts that occured to me while I was watching it.

Paige – that’s the woman from Scream – has been having weird dreams about ancient wars, and there’s a weird dude speaking a foreign language that may or may not be supposed to be Italianate Latin – since he wakes up a couple of three thousand year old people in tiny little white tunics, I think that’s what it's supposed to be – it wasn’t Greek, which it should have been. They smite the weird dude, snog, and head off to find and free Cronos.

The bloke appears to be called ‘Demetrius’ – not sure who he’s supposed to be. The woman is called ‘Meta’ or possibly that was just the guy calling her ‘meter’, mother, in Greek (or even ‘mater’, the Latin). Maybe she’s meant to be Cybele, the Great Mother, an eastern deity brought over to Rome and subject of a mystery religion. Or maybe they didn't put that much thought into it.

Wow, Piper is annoying.

The woman can turn people to stone with her eyes (though not automatically whenever she looks at them, unlike Medusa). They wake up a guy in a red sheet who I guess must be Cronos (or rather the Latin Cronus, which is how they’re pronouncing it). He has a very strong jaw... Of course, my understanding of what’s going on would be greatly increased if I knew what a whitelighter was!

As in all science fiction and fantasy programmes (and unlike Greek myth), being turned into stone is not fatal (I think they all like The Chronicles of Narnia a bit too much). The woman who turns people into stone is referred to as a ‘Titan’, so I think the writers may have watched Clash of the Titans a few too many times, though Cronos/Cronus actually is a Titan, so bonus points for including an actual Titan alongside Gorgons and Shakespearian characters. I think they may have watched The Terminator recently as well. Cronos burns and kills stone-eyes woman so I guess that’s it for living statues for a while.

Apparently, when some mortals trapped the Titans, the power went to their heads and they declared themselves to be gods. And the Titans are after the Elders, who appear to be whitelighters and, um, if I watched this show I’d know what that meant. They’re dead already, anyway.

Argh, my ears are actually hurting from that utterly appalling Irish accent from the leprechaun. I may never complain about Angel’s attempt ever again.

Oh, Leo, have you not worked out who the kid from the future is, yet? Don’t you ever watch TV? Nice work on the kid, though, he’s cute. (I spoke with a friend who knows the show afterwards and discovered that the kid was not, as I thought, the baby Piper kept whinging about, but that it was indeed Piper and Leo's future offspring, so I was nearly right).

Apparently, battling the Titans requires the sort of ‘ancient Greek’ costume worn by the goddesses in Clash of the Titans – because now they’re goddesses. Paige is the goddess of war and carries a trident (Huh? HUH? Why????! Surely you only have to have watched The Little Mermaid to know that the trident belong to the god of the sea, not of war). Phoebe is the goddess of love and appears to be armed with her flirting skills, and Piper is goddess over earth and the natural elements. They have drives and urges based on their powers, which causes Phoebe to flirt with the kid, which is really icky. This ‘drives and urges’ thing basically seems to have turned them all into idiots. Also, I think I’m offended that the goddess of love has to be blonde, to the point of wearing a bad blonde wig.

As you can see, Love is blonde, War has her boobs hanging out, but Earth/Hearth just looks motherly

There are some fun scenes with Paige and Phoebe trying out their powers, in which Paige quotes Archimedes ('give me a lever big enough and I’ll move the world') so I guess she has extra knowledge of ancient Greece as well. She also quotes Tacitus. Piper’s powers include... keeping an eye on the other two. My goodness she’s boring. She even has the most boring costume (though she did correctly point out that their costumes are utterly impractical for fighting anybody).

Leo can jingle. Without knowing what that is, it sounds like it’s either rude, or some kind of Christmas carolling power. The girls are utterly helpless and totally useless without him. Hmm, I don’t think I like this show.

(As the show went on, Piper got more and more whingy and I got more and more frustrated with her, particularly as she kept trying to avoid saving the world because she thought she could somehow look after just her family while the rest of the Earth went to heck in a handbasket). Oh for goodness sakes Piper, can you not see what’s staring you in the face? Literally?! (This thought was another reference to the Future Kid being her own son, a possibility that doesn't seem to have occured to anyone). Also, if the world goes to wrack and ruin, does it not occur to you that this will also harm your precious family? And why is an Earth goddess also attached to hearth and home? Why not just make her a goddess of the hearth?

Leo tells them they can do it without him, thank goodness (but boy, these three are whiny – come on people, the world is at stake! Buffy whinged a fair bit, but she wasn’t this bad). He does give them quite a nice speech about how they won’t lose their humanity like the ancient Greeks did.

Way to attack your own future offspring, Piper.

And then – Piper just comes down and blasts the Titans. Just like that. It’s kind of an anti-climax. Then she goes off on some kind of rampage, I think. Causes a lot of storms (she appears to have Zeus’ power as well).

It appears that Leo has ascended to a higher plane of existence (Charmed version. This is a very common trope in telefantasy and science fiction, which I'm thinking of writing an article about at some point). But he is wearing somewhat silly robes, instead of the rather nice cricket jumper Daniel Jackson got when he ascended.

They refer to Paige’s goddess moment as her being ‘warrior princess’, presumably a shout-out to Xena.

Well, that was... something. Chris, the Future!Offspring, appears to have just killed Leo (though I'm told he gets better). I’m curious enough to go look up what happened, so that’s a good sign for genuine enjoyment of the show, but the heroines are way too whiny and dependent on the nearest male for my liking (though I guess if their new whitelighter is evil, that will change). The show doesn't take itself too seriously, which is good, and some of the humour worked and was funny - some of it, unfortunately, did not.

As for the portrayal of the Greek goddesses - like Xena, it's not really worth putting too much energy into comparing them with actual Greek myth, since this is pure fantasy. Greek myth, as far as this show is concerned, consists of women wearing extremely skimpy outfits whose responsibility for various aspects of human life is manifested as throwing magical powers around like Sabrina the Teenage Witch (which was a fabulous show, by the way!). It's strange and rather ironic that Greek mythology - in which goddesses come in three flavours, sex-mad, nagging wife and virgin - should be used in a show that's supposedly about powerful women, but since this show appears to think powerful women wander around crying that they can't do anything without a man, perhaps it makes sense.

I did quite like the explanation of what happened to the gods, which was similar to euhemeristic theories from the ancient world - the idea that the gods were mortals, or heroes. In this case, since the show is about magical powers, these mortals were given powers, but they went to their heads and they lost themselves. It's a genuinely intriguing idea and could be an interesting basis for a story itself...


  1. I've seen Charmed, but not that episode (I'd stopped watching by then). The writing gets more convoluted and crappier in the later seasons, as you have experienced here with this 2-parter.

  2. I LOVE CHARMED!!!! Then they stopped makin 'em.... It made me mad/sad.

  3. No offense but I seriously love Piper. So, it's seriously's not funny how you think Piper's boring out of the three.

  4. I love Charmed and was upset when they stopped it now I watch the reruns with my sister so she can learn the life lessons I learned from it.

  5. Watch the rest of the episodes and maybe you will actually understand the show. There is much more to Charmed than you have seen from these two episodes. I don't think you should really judge it till you have watched more, you don't even know what a whitelighter is! That alone makes me disregard every single word in your blog

  6. Yeah, the do not depend on their whitelighter, this dependence was stressed in this chapters because thats the way it was planned! oh yeah!
    Leo's ascencion is one of the most important things in the next season, when the girls become amazons, so you can check some episodes when leo doesnt even appear. Tho I love Charmed I have to concede that the last seasons were kinda weird, and some chapters were even ridiculous!, anyway I love Halliwell sisters and now im getting the comic book!
    Greets and nice blog!

  7. i love the of three with all my hart my favorite one is piper tho but i love all of the other sisters phoebe paige prue oh my god i love prue


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