'Charmed' is fun, for a spell Preview: Pretty-witch show isn't exactly spellbinding, but it's not half bad as light melodrama.

October 07, 1998|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Now what in the world would ever make Aaron Spelling think a series with three beautiful women fighting bad guys would be a hit?

No, it's not Sabrina, Kelly and Jill brought back two decades later now that Charlie's found Viagra and decided to reunite with his "angels" and reopen the agency at age 80.

But "Charmed" is close enough.

It's about Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) Halliwell, three sisters who are witches living together in San Francisco and getting in touch with their supernatural selves at the expense of any guy foolish enough to cross them.

They're good witches, you must understand. And, as the WB press kit promises, they are "vastly different personalities" -- every bit as vastly different as Jill, Sabrina and Kelly were. Well, they have different hair colors anyway.

I mock, but I must also admit "Charmed" is not that bad. In fact, after about 10 minutes, I actually started enjoying it a little bit. (Yes, once again, I will be in the phone booth across the street from the White House with G. Gordon Liddy at midnight, if I need to be assassinated for this admission.)

"Charmed" works rather nicely when it stays within the realm of light melodrama about three sisters living together in a big, old Victorian house they inherited from their grandmother. Combs ("Picket Fences") and Doherty ("Beverly Hills 90210) can be engaging actresses if you don't expect deep engagement from your prime-time viewing.

The problems in the pilot come when the trio starts flexing its supernatural muscles, and things start flying around the room and guys get giant exploding pustules on their bodies. (Yeah, that's what they are - giant, exploding pustules.)

But, while it doesn't work for me, I'll bet many of the WB's teen viewers who have just finished watching "Dawson's Creek" are going to love it. The girls will feel empowered; the boys, who have been lusting after the three, will be entertained by the violence and havoc they can generate.

Aaron Spelling, the king of teen television, lives.

Quick takes

Here's a quick-hit guide to new series premiering tonight.

**** -- Must-see. *** -- Has promise. ** -- Worth a look. * -- Forget about it.

"Seven Days" * -- The president and vice president are killed in a kamikaze bombing of the White House. But, wait! There's a chance to restore order through time travel. A former CIA operative now imprisoned is chosen to go back in time. Jonathan La Paglia plays the hero. Where does UPN come up with this stuff and why does it insist in putting it on the air? 8 to 9 p.m. on WUTB (Channel 24).

'Charmed'

When: 9 to 10 tonight

Where: WNUV (Channel 54)

Sun score: ** 1/2

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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