Season 7 of Charmed ended with the sisters Halliwell faking their own deaths, so they can go on with their own lives hidden from the elders, demons, police and homeland security. The final season of the show begins with the memorial service for the sisters.
The final season of a television show can be a mixed bag of nuts. When the show is episodic television, it makes it even harder. You have a show such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer that ends with what was the logical conclusion to the overall story arc as Buffy must defeat the menace of the Hell Hole and destroy Sunnydale to finish her story arc. You also see a show like Angel end without being able to finish all the storylines the show built over the years. However, all can be forgiven when you reach the end of the season. With Buffy, you end up with the original core of characters teaming together for one last walk to fight the final battle. In Angel, you get a form of Armageddon and one of the best final shots of any show’s conclusion. Charmed is a show that is able to conclude on its own terms, but still faced problems thanks to the networks stipulations on the producers in exchange for this right.
The Achilles Heel of episodic television is the start of each subsequent season. Each year, a show will end with a cliffhanger that promises changes. Very rarely does the show follow through with those changes, though, and Charmed is guilty of that sin year after year. Season seven ended with the Charmed Ones defeating a great evil and faking their own deaths in order to protect both themselves and their loved ones from both demons and the National Security. The final season starts with the sister’s wake and we see that the show should take the fresh direction of the Halliwell Sisters staying in the shadows while a new witch would fight for the greater good, under the tutelage of the Charmed Ones.
That new witch is Billie, played by Kaley Cuoco, who formerly appeared on 8 Simple Rules. She has a strong back story as a girl whose older sister was abducted by demons as a child and had been missing ever since. She is found by the sisters and brought in to train and hone her skills as a witch. The season starts out with the Charmed Ones using Billie to help innocents and fight demons while they remain hidden. However, as normal, it only took a short number of episodes (five) before the story reverted to the normal storyline. And as usual, it made no sense and was just a convenient plot contrivance to allow the show to resume its comfortable arcs.
That is not really a bad thing, though. It would have been nice for the show to remain a little more daring to try to shake the reputation it had built up as simple and fluffy stories that paled in comparison to the Buffys of the world. I don’t think Charmed ever claimed to be a replacement for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so the comparisons are a little unfair. Charmed is, at its base core, a story about sisters who just happened to also be witches. It was more of a soap with supernatural events surrounding it. In that regard, the show succeeded well and built a large following and despite critical disdain it remained a popular show.
The large problem with the final season was the budgetary cuts imposed on the production by the studio to allow it to remain on the air for one last season. Thanks to the new budget many things had to be cut from the show, including a primary character for a majority of the season (Leo played by Brian Krause). However, the writers of the show never allowed those restrictions to get in the way of telling a powerful story that helped to end the show the way the creators felt it needed to end.
There are problems with the show’s structure, one of which comes in the form of a lack of creativity that would naturally form after eight years on the air. How many different and unique supernatural obstacles can you really come up with over that long of a run? How many tragedies can you really sustain over that amount of time? The Halliwell Sisters had died individually so many times that when it happens once again in this season you knew that they would be back. Even the one death on the show that remained constant (Prue) was not enough to make you believe the remaining sisters would not return.
However, while you would begin to grow tired of how many times the girls could be trapped in a dollhouse in any other season, it actually worked in this, the final season. I would say that the strongest thing about the final season of Charmed is that it was almost like a love letter to the fans. The show almost became a sendoff to the characters that the fans had grown to love and hate over the years. We see the return of The Source, The Triad, The Angel of Destiny, The Angel of Death. We see the dollhouse. Wyatt once again uses his powers to cause mayhem. Yes, we have seen it all before, but we also know this will be the last time we see it and it is almost like a farewell tour for your favorite musical band. Yes, we have heard the songs for years, but it is always nice to sing along with them one last time.
Nostalgia is present but the season does not live and die with one long goodbye. The story of Billie and her long lost sister Christy (Marnette Patterson) dominates the season and sets up the big bad for the Charmed Ones to face at the end. The story is strong, and although not given the amount of build I think it needed, it still works. In my opinion, a few episodes of fluff could have been eliminated in exchange for more character development for the character of Christy. Those problems aside, I think that Cuoco was a brilliant addition to the show and carried herself to becoming a strong lead on a show already dominated by three very strong actresses.
The main goal of a final season is to resolve character and plot arcs that have been built over the years. Will Ross and Rachel finally hook up on Friends? Will Angel finally bring down the Powers that Be at Wolfram and Hart? Charmed does well in tying up all the loose ends. Will Phoebe finally be able to find the true love that has always seemed to elude her? Will Piper and Leo finally live happily ever after? Will Paige ever be able to accept the whitelighter inside her? All these questions are answered and the storylines are wrapped up in a rather sweet series finale that closes the door on the Charmed Ones forever.
Is this set worth your money? If you are a fan of Charmed, most definitely. It is a satisfying end to a series that is about family, love and – quite honestly – girl power. It has some dazzling special effects, which is par for the course with the series. The story lines remain constant, never overly creative but always entertaining. If you are not familiar with the show, it might not be the best place to start, as it is weighed down with a deep canon of storylines. However, it is most definitely worth a look. It may not have been the best show on television but it was never as bad as you may have heard.
There are a few commentary tracks during a few of the episodes, the most interesting one during episode 10, which includes Brad Kern, Brian Krause and Cameron Litvack. This would be Krause’s final episode until the season’s final two shows. It was pretty interesting listening to everyone talk about the show and the send off for Krause. I might have liked a little bit of the response from Krause, since he was wrote out for budgetary reasons, but they remained focused on the show’s storyline of his write out. There are also commentary tracks on the first episode and the series finale.
On the final disc, there is a number of featurettes, including The Making of Charmed, Story of Charmed: Genesis, Story of Charmed: Charmed Again, To the Manor Born and Forever Charmed. There is also an Easter egg on the final disc that shows the various props for the Book of Shadows, including the different versions used for different purposes. The main book was filled with pages of pictures and words but there was also a shell book with foam inside that was used when it got thrown around. It’s also funny when they mention that all the demons in the book were based on various crew members.
The Making of Charmed is a documentary that illustrates the process of making a show. The script development always begins with finding a problem for the sisters to face in their personal lives and then figure out what supernatural elements can be added based on these problems. We go through the various departments, with talking head interviews mixed with shots from the shows. We see the makeup and special effects department and the costume department. We then hear from the special effects coordinator and some stunt men who talk about the effects used on the show. The director of photography talks about actually framing the shots and setting up the scenes. Finally, the sound department talks about the sound mix on the show.
Story of Charmed: Genesis is a documentary that explains the beginning of the show. They talk about the goal of creating a show about sisters who just happen to be witches. It is interesting to hear the creators and cast talking about how the show is seen as silly and fluff, yet defending it as something more important than people give it credit for. They end this documentary at the point where Prue was killed.
Story of Charmed: Charmed Again starts with the events following the death of Prue and the introduction of Paige. It was at this point that the creators began to build an actual organized mythology surrounding the supernatural beings, which had never existed up to this point. It goes into the introductions of Cole and Leo as well as the births of Wyatt and Chris as well. They also talk about the slashing of the budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars for the final season of the show.
To the Manor Born is a featurette about the actual house. Forever Charmed is a featurette about the fans reactions and love for the show and how they relate to both the girls in the show and the situations they found themselves in.