When CW announced a Charmed reboot was on the way, fans of the original series had mixed feelings. It hadn’t been that long since the original went off the air, and it was still available to watch on streaming sites. Did fans really need another story about a trio of witchy sisters? Some fans were ecstatic to see a new version of Charmed Ones for a new generation. Others thought the original series was better left untouched.
Now that the first season of the reboot concluded and season two is on the way, fans can agree that it wasn’t horrible like some feared. Both series have their own merits. While the original series accomplishes some stories better, so too does the reboot. We’ve got a look at just what the original Charmed does better than the reboot… but also what it doesn’t.
10 Does Better: Family History
One aspect of the show that really excelled in the original Charmed was the series willingness to explore the Halliwell family history. The fact that the Charmed Ones descended from a line of powerful witches was always at the back of their mind.
While time travel became a headache in later episodes of the series, earlier episodes used it to flesh out the backstory of the Halliwell family and the Warren line. The series gradually introduced more and more information about how their family practiced their craft, even bringing Melinda Warren, the start of their line, into the present for an episode.
The reboot hasn’t addressed the Vera family outside of the sisters and their parents. To be fair, the reboot is only one season in. More family history could be coming down the line.
9 Doesn’t: Representation Of Color
During the time that Charmed originally aired on the WB (before the launch of the CW), the network was known for dramas featuring very attractive - and very Caucasian - young leads. As a result, people of color didn’t feature prominently in Charmed.
That’s changed in the new generation as the Vera women are all Latina, and for Macy and Maggie, Afro-Latina at that. Their friends and love interests also represent a more accurate look at the world around the sisters. Some of the most important supporting players in the first season - Nico, Galvin, and Jada - were all people of color as well.
8 Does Better: Introduction Of White Lighters
The premiere episode of the Charmed reboot rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way thanks to the way it introduced the sisters' White Lighter. Harry presented himself by tying the Charmed Ones to chairs and commanding them to listen. Not exactly the feminist turn the audience thought they would get.
The original series gave the audience a more gradual introduction to the White Lighters. Handyman Leo was in the lives of the sisters for a long time before they realized he knew their secret, or that it was his job to protect him. The mythology surrounding the White Lighters and the Elders also got a slower roll out over the course of the first few seasons in the original series.
7 Doesn’t: Diverse Magics
Much like the lack of people of color in the original series, there existed a lack of magical beliefs from other cultures in Charmed. Writers of the original show liked to give their own spin on mythological creatures, but not explain different magical practices from around the world. The most the audience got was a season one episode in which John Cho played the ghost of a Chinese man who couldn’t move on.
The new Charmed sees the sisters relying on their own heritage for spell work instead of the classic Latin. It also expands beyond that by including Haitian spiritual practices through Galvan and his family. Hopefully, the new series will continue to include the magic of other cultures moving forward.
6 Does Better: Growing Power Levels
When the original Charmed series first began, the three sisters had very specific powers: Prue moved things with her mind, Piper froze people and objects in place, and Phoebe had visions of the future when she touched someone. Over time, those powers grew.
When Paige was introduced, she combined the White Lighter orbing with moving things with her mind to gain a whole new power. Piper could eventually blow things up because she actually changed the movement of molecules. These things all happened gradually in the series.
In the reboot, the powers of the Vera sisters, instead, have jumped ahead suddenly, growing exponentially in a short period of time. It makes the audience wonder just when their powers will stagnate.
5 Doesn’t: Life Outside Of Magic
One of the downsides to any television series set in a supernatural universe is that everyday life falls by the wayside. That was very much the case with the original Charmed series.
The reboot makes an effort to show the Vera sisters balancing their real life with their magical commitments. While Maggie tries her best to keep up appearances at her sorority, Macy is a scientist trying to reconcile what she knows about her work with what she discovered about her family. The new series does a better job of showing both sides of their lives instead of focusing solely on the magic.
4 Does Better: Slow Story Builds
One theme that’s been present here is the gradual growth of the original Charmed. The series had eight seasons to slowly build up its own mythology and to flesh out character backstories and relationships.
Over the course of the series, the slow build gave the storylines an even keel. With the reboot, some storylines begin just as quickly as they end. After the first season, perhaps the writers will be able to slow down a bit and allow stories room to breathe.
3 Doesn’t: The Long Lost Sister
When Shannen Doherty left the series at the end of season two, the writers had to find a way to bring the “power of three” back to the show. They did it by introducing a half-sister named Paige. The Charmed Ones shared a mother, but Paige’s father was their mother’s former White Lighter.
The idea itself wasn’t a bad one, but the reason behind them never meeting was. Their parents didn’t want to get in trouble. Audience members knew it was a desperate reach to keep the story going.
With Macy’s introduction in the reboot, the writers raised the stakes. Macy and her mother couldn’t be in the same room without Marisol losing her life thanks to a deal with a demon.
2 Does Better: The Gift Of Prophecy
If there’s one thing missing in the new version of Charmed, it’s the gift of prophecy. In the original series, Phoebe Halliwell didn’t develop many of her abilities until well into the run. Her first, and most lasting, power was that of prophecy.
She was able to get vague “impressions” from objects or people that added to the mystery of the week without giving the audience all of the answers. In the new series, the Vera sisters only get prophetic visions from a sharp needle and Macy’s demon side. The writers should probably find a less disturbing way to do that going forward.
1 Doesn’t: Family Secrets
The Halliwell family had their share of secrets. There was, of course, the existence of Paige, for starters. The trouble with these secrets is that they only came about because of behind the scenes drama that forced the writing in a new direction.
With the Charmed reboot, the writers employed a series of family secrets right from the start, gradually revealing more as the first season aired. Macy emerged in the pilot, only to find out later that she and Maggie also shared a father. They then discovered a secret chamber below their house that magnified magic, as well as magical gifts and secret passages their mother hid. Marisol Vera knew how to make family secrets entertaining.
There are definitely merits to the storytelling for both the original Charmed series and the CW’s recent reboot. Hopefully, the reboot learns from what the original did well moving forward.