Breaking down Charmed vs the 2018 reboot

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Well.

I did it.

I watched the trailer for the “Charmed” reboot.

As a writer and filmmaker, who also happens to be a stan of Charmed (aka super fan) I wasn’t impressed by the trailer’s editing, depicted plotlines, acting or the special/VFX effects.

A deeper reflection on the VFX.
It’s like when you see the Post-80s-produced prequel and sequel Star Wars episodes made nearly 20+ years AFTER the original trilogy (IV, V, VI) and wonder WTF.

We have better technology now, I just hoped the effects would have been better. Granted, with inflation, vfx might cost the same as it did back then so you do have to be selective about it, but the sophistication of the software and practices still should look better.

And let’s not forget the costuming for the demon in the reboot’s trailer.  He looked whacked!

yes, that’s some ’90s lingo for you, but it still applies.

I typically give most things a chance. So although I’m agged about what I’ve seen of the reboot so far, I will still watch up to 3 episodes, allowing the show time to develop synergy.

Some shows grab you from the first episode. Other’s take a few.  This is clearly not gelled like “Stranger Things”. But from first impressions, here are my other issues about what I’ve read and watched about the reboot.

Circling back to the trailer.  (it sucked) 
Dear CW.  Now you know doggone well there would be plenty of hype surrounding the pilot release of the reboot. NOT because of the new cast, but because of the legacy of the OLD CAST.  Which, I’m not mad at you.  Although some of the actors on the reboot have a following from other shows, they do not have the “legacy” or fandom of the OG cast members individually or the original show (collectively).

I get it.  You used the publicity engine of the old show to churn views onto the trailer and heighten anticipated numbers for the pilot premiere. That’s marketing. That’s smart.

BUT knowing this, why couldn’t you produce a better-looking trailer?

Cast Chemistry/Storyline

You can get a better editor, and the actors can develop chemistry over time. The writer can get a grip over the storyline (which is odd to me b/c it’s supposedly re-imagined and written by the experienced writers of the show “Jane The Virgin” show.  I have never watched so maybe that’s the disconnect for me. I don’t know if the reboot’s writers actually watched the original Charmed or did a “crash course” on it right before writing. But it doesn’t appear clear that they brought on any previous cast or crew for consulting on the reboot.  If they didn’t it’s not “visible”.  in the trailer. Nor is the chemistry.

Forced minority mashup : It’s like they think by making the characters minority-based, it will magically put the marketing on autopilot.

  • Yes, Wonder Woman kicked ass.
  • Yes, Black Panther kicked ass. (Shoot the Dora Milage OWNED that screen, and what I liked most was that the movie showed a mixture of brown shades in the women, even darker-skinned women.  Yes it’s a movie with a story  based in Sub-Saharan Africa, still, you know Hollywood is prone to white-washing things)
  • YES, women and people of color really helped push both movies to billion-dollar, box office success, but other demographics played a large part in that as well.

I feel like because of recent successes, Hollywood will be stuffing these types of shows/movies down our throat and force Female, and Black and Hispanic storylines out into the cosmos without no “developed” stories.  On the flipside, women and minority filmmakers…NOW is the time to get your well-crafted stories out there.  LOL.

But just because the formula worked for WW and BP, that doesn’t mean every “cookie cutter” show with similar attributes will work the same way or have that “chemistry”.

So it’s one thing to create a show with these elements because it works and has been “fleshed out” it ‘s another thing when people mash up these elements, just for a “quick cash cow”.

The distorted legacy:  As a superfan of the original Charmed series, starring Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Rose McGowan, I’m sad to see the legacy name attached to the reboot.

If the “reboot” (and I call it that loosely) was a different name, or maybe even a different set of descendants in the Halliwell line with different powers maybe this would have been better received by the older fans while cross-marketing to the newbies.  But all CW did was miss an opportunity to become more than a “TEEN Network”.  They couldn’t have been thinking about financials when they ostracized the GENX and Boomer crowd.  Sure, Millennials make up about 94 million in the US.  BUT GENX and the Boomers combined is almost double that. Why not capitalize on both?

Other show options:   Maybe the reboot could have been a spinoff on the grand kids of Piper, Phoebe, and Paige? Or centered on whitelighters vs. darklighters with a “group” of Heathers-like girls from magic school fighting them and getting into trouble. After all, nowhere in that trailer did I here, “The Power of Three will set you free” instead they tried to come up with a different slogan about family.

Some tweeters even said maybe a storyline with Wyatt and Chris’s kids taking up the helm. Their kids would have been GEN Y/Z appropriate. And this could have left “doors” open to the former cast members for “guest starring roles”.

Anything.
Something.
But not what they have right now.

I’m in my 40s, so I get it. The CW is trying to do the following

  • Cater to GEN Y + Z
  • Use a “legacy” tv show (one with a “built-in fan base for press and advertising dollars) to kickstart the buzz on the new show
  • make dollars off a brand they already have trademarked etc.

Once again smart marketing.  But the thing with “smart marketing” is sometimes you take it too far and loose the very thing you were aiming for.  After the pilot episode, Charmed Reboot really needs to live up to the hype if it wants to keep it’s new, fledgling fan base.

Legacy money:  Think about it, they don’t have to drastically redo the “logo” for “marketing and merchandising” which includes the “book” series (which also has an established fanbase), The CW can rake in old money with new money without increasing the cost of overhead.

In closing:  It’s clear the CW didn’t intend to “gain” the allegiance of the old head, superfans like me, but they sent a “mix signal” when they did the following:

  • kept the name
  • kept the logo
  • a similar book of shadows
  • created a pilot episode w/similar plotlines as the original

As a woman of color, I’ve been waiting decades to tell supernatural, kick-butt, action women of color and now I do of course, but to see it on the big screen in blockbuster hits like Black Panther, Thor Ragnorak, Deadpool 2 and Columbiana really gets me hype. So of course, I like to support shows with strong female protagonists who happen to be women of color.

What I don’t like is the deliberate mash-up of minorities for capitalistic gain in the story (all in a single episode) that don’t further the “story”.

What about telling a good frickin’ story?

There are ways to layer in blended families, alternative lifestyles, generational conflicts, and people of color in a story. Check out a show called THIS IS US. There’s purpose in these sub-stories that tie in well with the overall theme of theme of the story.

And I know with the inclusion rider getting alot of steam on the web, more and more shows/movies will broaden their storylines to include predominantly minority cast. But tossing me a storyline just because I’m a black woman is not the same and sending me a script with a meaty story, with a great plot twist, about a multi-dimensional character who just happens to be black.

But the Charmed “reboot’ didn’t look like inclusion, at all. And it’s kind of a pimp slap to the face of female actors of color.

My last pet peeve. 

And of course, there’s another trend going on.  Not just in TV shows and movies, but also TV commercials and other marketing content.  Casting ambiguous actors who are “safely ethnic“.  And only casting bi-racial/multi-racial women to portray black women. We come in all shades.  And as Black Panther proved with the predominantly darker skinned cast, widely accepted by a broader audience.

Yes, we need stories that tell view from ALL walks of life, but there’s still a “stereotype” about these cultural elements that persist today.

Let’s face facts, this is just one of many (upcoming) crops of shows and movies that will focus on ‘women’ and ‘people of color’ for capitalistic gain. I just hope the others are done better. These actors and (crew) deserve good stories that will represent their ability and demographics better, beyond the fact that they are the “in gender” or “color” of the month.

It feels like the CW was so desperate to have a “built-in audience” to kickstart a new show that they crammed everything into a show without really having a “reasonable” or explainable “purpose” for it.

What are your thoughts? 

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