Did you know they weren’t witches in the beginning? Who knew! Disclaimer: This was my favorite show growing up. I just re-watched the pilot on Netflix and cried laughing. I was appropriately high.
Open on thunder and lightning, an orchestral movement straight out of 1998, and a witch feeding a cat, obviously. She lights her candles with her finger, as one would, and her séance is rudely interrupted by a MURDERRRR. The tone so far is aggressively cheesy. Very strong cheese. Possibly a Blue Stilton.
Cut to Piper (Holly Marie Combs) & Prue (Shannen Doherty), 2/3 of the sisters Halliwell, and Prue’s legit already bitching about something. She left their old spirit board out on the counter after stumbling upon it in the basement. It has a cryptic inscription on the back about the power of three setting them free… FORESHADOWING. Then Prue starts bitching about Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), the third sister who Prue thinks is a total basic bitch. Prue says of Phoebe, “that girl has no vision, no sense of the future.” ZOINKS!! DO YOU THINK IT’S BECAUSE PHOEBE’S GONNA BE THE ONE WHO HAS PREMONITIONS?!? You guys, this shit’s heatin’ up.
Throw to the theme song, which ISN’T the Love Spit Love cover of The Smith’s song yet. Livid. I am livid at this point.
Crime scene. Cop-banter about a serial killer targeting women in their 20s. Good cop, Inspector Andy tells the bad cop, Darryl Morris, that he just got back from an occult shop. He thought he had a lead on the case, ‘cause obviously the first place you check when women are dying is A WITCHCRAFT STORE. In what world, Andy? IN WHAT WORLD? Darryl Morris tries to downplay Andy’s totally believable and justifiable theories about the serial killer being a witch-hunter. Darryl Morris is a nonbeliever (regular person.) Darryl Morris sounds like Adam Sandler doing Jay Leno’s impression of Adam Sandler. I’m calling him Darryl Morris because I had to google his character name…Which is Darryl Morris. We later find out this killer IS on a witch hunt…wuuuuuut. Maybe Andy wasn’t so thirsty after all.
Back to Prue & Piper. Prue is still bitching and trying to figure out how to fix their electricity, which isn’t working because it’s thundering and lightning out, which is essential to the plot of this pilot and not just a motif used in transitional elements… Anyway, Piper’s all, hey wait, you need a wrench. You know who knows how to use wrenches? Well, our younger sister Phoebe, of course! And Prue’s like who cares, IDFW Phoebe. And Piper’s all, woops I already called her and told her to move into the spare room are u mad at me. R u like so pissed. ‘N then Prue’s like, when does she arrive—AWW SHIT SHE CAME THROUGH THE DOOR AT THAT RIGHT MOMENT. Piper tries to keep the peace, ‘cause middle child, but aw damn, oh no. There it is. There’s the fight with Prue and Phoebe. It happened. It’s about a dude. Ah, jeez.
Piper & Phoebe chat on the bed for a bit and Prue brings Phoebe blankets, muttering, “this room was always the coldest in the house.” Ok, real talk I actually teared up at this part, that’s so sweet. Sisters. Witches. Emotions. God the Halliwells were like the Kardashians before the Kardashians were: All their names start with P, Phoebe’s the funny/fun youngest one (Khloe), Piper is the boring middle child (Fucking Kim), and Prue dates white dudes (Kourtney).
Ok so now they’re talking about boys while lackadaisically playing with a spirit board: Average day in your 20s. The pointer on the spirit board is spontaneously zipping around the board and they don’t even notice. After 30 seconds of this bullshit, they giggle and realize a fucking ghost is pushing their hands around, and Phoebe’s like YOU GUISE IT’S MOVING. And they’re like no, Phoebe, you ALWAYS push the pointer when we play with this Ouija board in our 20s. And then Phoebe’s like NO YOU GUISE IT SPELLED ‘ATTIC,’ and they’re like Phoebe you’re moving the spirit board to get attention (CAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU GET ATTENTION EVERYONE, BY FABRICATING A VAGUE OUIJA BOARD MESSAGE. FUCK.) So naturally, Phoebe’s like, WELL IDK ABOUT YOU GUISE, BUT I’M GOIN TO THE ATTIC. And Prue & Piper are all, YOU’RE CRAZY AND WE’RE THE STRAIGHT CHARACTERS.
So Phoeb-daddy goes into the attic, which opened itself, duh, are you guys keeping up with this shit? In the attic, there’s this chest glowing so bright there might as well be giant LED arrows pointing at it saying, “EMPHASIS.” Phoebe opens it and finds The Book of Shadows, reads from the witch-book and YAOOOO THEY GOT POWERZZz!
Throughout the next day, they all discover said powers. Piper’s like, work was so nutty today you guys: I cooked, talked to my boss, made this sauce, froze time— WAIT WHAT. WONDER IF IT HAS SOMETHIN’ TO DO WITH THAT FUCKING BOOK. Then Prue accidentally chokes her emotionally abusive thunderfuck of a boss with his tie. Then the best part happens…
Phoebe is biking around during the day—A WOMAN IN HER 20’S JUST GOIN’ FOR A BIKE RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, NOT A CARE IN THE WORLD—when she has a premonition: two kids about to get hit in a FATAL CAR CRASH—which for the record, looks like 2 kids casually rolling across the hood of a car in a sketch they made with their dad’s Canon camcorder—thanks, 90s stunt coordinators. Phoebe looks ahead & spots those exact kids about to get hit by a car in real time! She heroically cuts them off and saves them from the possibility of absolute worst-case scenario, minor bumps and bruises. Do you know what this means?! PHOEBE IS O.G. THAT’S SO RAVEN.
Prue picks up O.G. That’s So Raven from the hospital and runs into her ex-lover Andy, yes, the thirsty-ass witch cop, and they have coffee, ‘cause the best place to rekindle a romance is the hospital.
Then Prue & O.G. That’s So Raven get a drink at a bar and Phoebe tries to convince her that they’re “the charmed ones,” she’s like PRUE WE DEM BOYZ!! And Prue is like Khloe you’re so naïve, and Phoebe’s like YAH, cause you knoweverything Kourtney…
Anyway, a milk saucer magically slides across the bar and the milk transfers into Prue’s coffee. Prue’s like da fuq, but Phoebe doesn’t react at all. Nope. Phoebe doesn’t care that for the first time in her life she just saw something inexplicably and telekinetically shift toward her. She’s like, Queen Elizabeth at the opening ceremony-level unimpressed. And when they go to a drug store and Prue’s pent-up anger causes an entire aisle of medicine to fall off the shelves, Phoebe’s like ya mmhmm bored AF let’s go.
Piper follows her boyfriend at the time, the periwinkle-sweater-wearing Jeremy, into a mortifying abandoned building because he says he has a “surprise” for her. Hasn’t she ever seen the X-Files? TRUST NO ONE. Anyway, he attacks her with like, a baby sword. Turns out he’s the serial killer/witch hunter and he’s on to her. Piper freezes that fuckboy and gets home to tell the girls.
My favorite part is when he un-freezes and divulges, “I’ll get you BITCH.” His character continues to say “bitch” in this forcedly aggressive way, as if this misogynist producer is standing off-set going, “umm, ya could you make ‘bitch’ sound way more offensive and sexist than it really is?”
“No no no Jeremy say it like it’s your wife and she just said something dumb as shit and you’re like LOL ur a woman.”
“No like seriously this chick just told you women are unequivocally equal to men socially, politically and economically, which is just not true LOL girls were so mean to me in high school.”
“YES. YES. FUCK WOMEN EVERYWHERE.”
Piper gets home and wants to call the cops and her sisters are like NO WAY, WHAT WOULD WE TELL THEM, THAT WE’RE WITCHES?? …Um. No, you can and should call the cops. You can call the 9 without letting them in on your heritage. If a murderer was on his way to my home I wouldn’t be like “you know what, maybe we shouldn’t call the cops CAUSE MY AUNT IS FROM ROMANIA.” THAT’S JUST SOMETHING YOU ARE WHO CARES BE SAFE SUPPORT WOMEN EVERYWHERE.
Side note: How do they resist making Charmed references on Pretty Little Liars??? HAVE SOME MOTHERFUCKING RESPECT, ABC FAMILY.
Jeremy comes to their house and talks in this voice that was put through a ridiculous 90s demon filter: Not only can you barely understand what he’s saying, but also it sounds like he’s playing with one of those Monster-voice machines from Party City: The kind where you’re like *demon voice* “Dad lerrkk, I’m a merrnsterrr” and he’s like “yup, absolutely throwing that shit right the fuck out.”
The next sequence of events is amazing: Jeremy shoots a fireball that forms a flaccid fire ring around them. The girls talk in asides until settling on what their next move is, which is to grab each other’s hands and chant the inscription on the back of the Ouija board: “the power of three will set us free.” Idk, I probably would’ve just stepped outside the 1-foot high fire ring and CALLED THE FUCKING COPS.
Suddenly, the firestorm turns into a tornado. Jeremy mansplains / evil-monologues over the sound of their chanting, but the audio is mixed so badly that you can’t understand what his demon blathering is trying to articulate. WHAT’S ANNUNCIATION? IDK, THIS IS THE 90s! Then he just, like, explodes…? He just…yeah, he explodes. The tornado dissipates and Prue says knowingly to her girls, “The Power of Three.” Ride. Or. Fucking. Die.
Transition shot of their home, which looks like a pink version of the Full House house, some chimes, some dramatic strings… I would give anything to have the transitional elements in Charmed follow me in my daily life: every car-ride, every post-emotional moment, every denouement…
Finally, the last line of the pilot is Piper foretelling, “this should be interesting…” Ahh, I see. She must be referring to their complicated days-to-come as witches.
I smiled through all 47 minutes of unadulterated pleasure. I’m obsessed with this show.
“You shut your mouth, how can you say, I go about things the wrong way…I AM HUUUMAN AND I NEED TO BE LOVED…”