Charmed: The Complete Second Season review by Mike Long

OK, here's the way that most episodic television works. On sit-coms, you have a recurring group of characters in a setting and each week, they have some sort of problem or set of circumstances which leads to a humorous, but self-contained story. These shows can have plots which go from show to show, but they are usually resolved quickly. On hour-long dramas, however, there are typically story arcs, in which detailed plots are unraveled over a series of episodes, sometimes taking up entire seasons. While these dramatic shows do have self-contained episodes, these segments usually move the over-riding plot along as well. The series Charmed is an hour-long show which plays by sit-com rules. Instead of coming off as fresh, this approach is rather annoying. As the second season of Charmed, the show's formula becomes very apparent.

As Season 2 of Charmed opens, the Halliwell sisters, Prue (Shannon Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), are recovering from the events endured in the finale of Season 1. Most devastated is Prue, who lost someone very close to her. But, life must go on, and the sisters attempt to get on with their lives, despite the fact that they are powerful witches -- Prue can move objects with her mind, Piper can stop time, and Phoebe has visions. Prue continues her job at a prestigious auction house, Phoebe decides to return to college, and Piper opens a nightclub. As she is still dealing with her broken relationship with Leo (Brian Krause), an angel who had been watching over the sisters, Piper is intrigued by the new next-door neighbor, Dan (Greg Vaughan). However, the sisters still have little time for the niceties of everyday life, as they are often protecting the innocent from warlocks, demons, and other assorted nasties.

To say that Charmed has no recurring themes or plot-lines would be a ludicrous overstatement of the truth, but I've never seen a show so desperately in need of a story arc in all of my life. As with most shows, the episodes vary in quality, but they all have the same structure -- the sisters have some of domestic problem, an evil being shows up and starts whacking people, the sisters resolve the domestic problem and beat the demon, usually tackling the two problems in conjunction with one another. The hows and whys are different from show to show, but it's easy to see how the writers can just plug problems into certain holes and a script is born.

The only plots which travel from show to show in Season 2 involve the sister's love lives. Faced with the loss of Leo, Piper finds solace in Dan, despite the fact that Leo pops in every now and then. Prue meets her match in Jack (the underused Lochlyn Munro), but this relationship is short-lived. While some may get wrapped up in the romantic angles of the show, there isn't much left for those who have tuned in for more of the witchy-type stuff. The demonic villains paraded through the show are rarely interesting, and the special effects still look like something which would have been kicked off of the original 1960's Star Trek.

In essence, the only interesting aspect of Charmed are the Halliwell sisters themselves. Despite the other flaws in the show, the writers still do a good job of giving Prue, Piper, and Phoebe their own individual voices and personalities. And Doherty, Combs, and Milano do a great job playing these characters as their interactions feel very genuine and their banter is often funny. It's truly a shame that these interesting ladies get lost in this dull show. I found the first season of Charmed to also be flawed, but it had some interesting elements and stories. Season 2 is simply dull at times, and it has made me quickly lose interest in this show.

Charmed: The Complete Second Season levitates onto DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The six-disc set contains all 22 episodes from the show's second season. The episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer looks pretty good, as the image is solid and stable. The picture is rather sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look good and are never faded. The picture is somewhat soft at times, and there are some minor artifacting issues. Still, the image rivals digital broadcast quality. The DVDs carry a Dolby Digital Surround audio track. These tracks provide clear dialogue and musical reproduction (even from the odd, dated bands which perform in Piper's club). The stereo effects are solid, but the surround effects are too inconsistent. There are no extra features on this set.

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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