Yours is the third letter that I have dedicated to a TV show, which is of some importance to me. The first one was Supernatural; Sam and Dean have been a part of my life for over 10 years and there is no end in sight. The second one was dedicated to Stargate; one of my favourite sci-fi universes out there.
Now it is time to talk about you, Charmed. I consider you the first TV show that I really geeked out about. If I remember correctly, this was even before I discovered Stargate or close to the same time. Each time I saved enough allowance, I bought a DVD box and watched it until the next one came out. I watched the first two seasons (those boxes I bought at once) over and over and over again and could not wait for the next season. What interested me the most, was the world you presented us.
Before I talk about the four Halliwell sisters I want to talk about the world surrounding them. Because this kind of magical storytelling doesn’t appear often on our screens, at least not in this form. Be it demons, witches, warlocks or The Source of ALL Evil, you had it all. The most important part of world building is continuity and authenticity. It doesn’t matter if the CGI effects are not really that good, what does matter is, that we believe it could be possible – you could call it plausible deniability or suspension of disbelief. And I had this feeling throughout every single season. It began with the Book of Shadows and the various descriptions of creatures on your world it provided. The fact that this book was written over countless generations of Halliwells and that the information within was not always correct played a big part in the authenticity. We never knew more about the villains as the sisters themselves. They also wrote their own entries in the book and carried on the tradition. It is hard to describe how that felt as I first watched those episodes. As a child we wish we could be part of the worlds we enjoy and visit every single week. With you, Charmed, this feeling was the strongest that I can remember. No other show had the ability to evoke this desire. Therefore I did everything I could to bring your world into mine.
This is the part where my geeking out comes in…
As I said, I owned every DVD box and therefore could not only watch every episode countless of times, but also pause every once in a while. Why would I do that? Well, I wanted to write my own Book of Shadows. You have to remember, at this time there was no Internet or at least not the good kind of Internet we know today. And to be honest I didn’t really know how all of that even worked. So I did my research the old fashioned way. When the sisters talked about a topic and presented new information, I wrote that down. And each time we got a glimpse into the Book of Shadows, I paused the DVD and wrote everything down I could decipher. The quality of DVDs were not that good, but it was sufficient so that I could read the most important parts. I even wrote down the order, in which the articles appeared in the book. It was very fun and a very very long project. I wanted to gather all the information before even considering to begin the real writing process. I wanted to have an edition that was as complete as possible. But when I was nearly finished with my research I lost interest in finishing the project – although I do not remember the exact reason. Maybe it was because I saw a website at the time, where one could buy the book and I was discouraged, because I thought all the work was for nothing. Somebody had already done it.
After a few years I threw away everything I had written and I really regret that. Now, years later, I wish I had those pages. Not to finish my own Book of Shadows, but just to see, what I wrote and how detailed everything really was. Those were good times. I cannot say how much I recommend to put the stuff you create as a child in a plastic box, where it is safe from environmental influences and keep it for a very long time. This stuff is important, even when you don’t know it at that time.
Thinking about it, I even tried to draw a complete blueprint of the house. But figuring out how the rooms, stairs and everything else where put together was very difficult. I mean, it was a TV set and not everything did make sense. Over time some little things changed, like the small room between the kitchen and the dining room disappeared – I can’t believe I still know that. Though the frustration about those little details was sometimes a bit higher than I am comfortable admitting, it was very fun to do.
But let’s get back to the main issue here: who were the Halliwell sisters?
First we have Prue (Shannon Doherty). I always wanted to be like her. She was the oldest one, had her life in control, knew what she wanted and did everything she could to get it. She has willpower, dedication and cared for her family. As Piper once put it: She was the first one to get up in the morning and the last one to go to bed in the evening. Her powers I consider the most practical as well. Who wouldn’t use telekinesis or astral projection every single day? These were really helpful abilities. Unfortunately Prue left in the season three finale and by “left” I mean she was brutally murdered by Shax, an assassin from the Underworld. Even now, many years, later I remember the scene very vividly. Shax entering the house and throwing Prue through the room and even through a wall. One of the best, but also most horrible episodes of the entire show!
Next up is Piper (Holly Marie Combs). She is the one who always worries about her other sisters and is not that sure about their lives as witches. I mostly remember her love and dedication for Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause). He was the sisters Whitelighter (those are kind of guardians for witches). Piper did everything for their love and never gave up. This was such an encouraging trait. Now that I think about it, she also had the P3 club and earlier in the show a restaurant. The bands who played in the P3 were really cool and I loved the endings of an episode, where the three sisters relaxed their, listening to the music. Just awesome. Pipers abilities were to freeze her surrounding environments and to explode bad guys or objects. Though I wished I had the freezing ability every once in a while, to explode things is not that practical – at least in everyday life.
Phoebe (Alissa Milano) was the rebel in the family. She left home after her mom died and just did the things she wanted to do. Over the course of the show though, she became this kind and caring person. This has mainly something to do with her abilities. Premonition (to see the future and the past) as well as empathy are passive abilities which forced her to engage with others and consider their feelings. This was a very important task, that she mastered very good and came in handy as she met Cole Turner (Julian McMahon) aka Balthasar. Their on / off relationship was also intriguing and I loved to see them both grow. Due to her passive abilities, Phoebe was the one who trained most passionately in martial arts. She was a real badass.
Last but not least we have Paige (Rose McGowan). She is the half sister of the other three (half human, half Whitelighter) and was introduced in the fourth season, after Prue died. Though I needed some time to get used to the idea of a new sister, I really liked her in the end. Because she was the new one, we got the chance to learn everything we knew again, but from a different point of view. How did the Halliwells handle things so far? Was there a different way? Interesting questions, that needed to be asked. Her ability was mainly teleportation.
The main idea behind Charmed was the Power of Three. Meaning, that the sisters are at there peak of power, when they are not just together, but in sync. Trusting each other. This seal was literally visible on the cover of the book of shadows and in times, when they really fought with each other or the trust was broken, so was the seal. Every time this happened (I think it was once or twice throughout the whole show) I was devastated, because I was so involved in those characters, it was heartbreaking to see them apart. But most of the time, even if they did not agree with everything that was going on, they could count on each other. The most prominent scene would be in the first episode, when they are in the attic, holding hands and fighting their first villain. This picture is so awesome and full of empowering ideas, I get goosebumps just by thinking about it.
Charmed, thank you for eight wonderful years. Years filled with development, emotion, dedication and most of all: family.