Something wicked this way came to The CW Sunday: the series premiere of the network’s “Charmed” reboot.
The magical IP’s return to the small screen was eagerly anticipated by viewers excited to see a new tale of sisterhood — and not to so eagerly by die-hard fans of the series starring Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and later Rose McGowan, which ran on the now-defunct WB network from 1998-2006.
That latter group has been highly critical of the reincarnation led by Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery and Madeleine Mantock since it was picked up last spring. And now that the trio has finally made their debut as a new group of witchy siblings, TheWrap thought we’d round up the biggest differences between The CW reboot’s pilot and the Constance M. Burge-created series that hit the airwaves 20 years ago.
(Don’t worry, a lack of alliteration is not among the key changes. See: Macy, Mel and Maggie vs. Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige.)
1. Their mom is still alive — for the first few minutes at least.
Mel (Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Jeffery) start off the series with their beloved mother alive and well, something the Halliwell sisters would have killed for, as their matriarch passed on when they were young and they were raised by their grandmother. Of course then someone — or something — seems to have killed the Vera girls’ mother within the first few moments of the pilot, so now they have a deceased parent in common with the OG sisters. They also appear to have an absentee father in common, though we don’t know if and when the reboot plans on introducing Mel and Maggie’s dad, just as the Halliwell sisters’ father eventually played a big part in their lives.
2. Two sisters to start.
“Charmed” is all about the Power of Three, but the reboot begins with just two siblings, though it doesn’t take long to introduce the third sister, Macy Vaughn (Mantock). Macy (the eldest sibling) finds out she shares her (now deceased) mother with Mel and Maggie after moving to town in the pilot, and that her father lied to her about her mom having died when she was a baby — but we don’t know why yet. Macy sees the Veras’ home in an article in the paper about Mel and Maggie’s mom’s death, and recognizes it from a picture of her with her mom in front of the same house as a baby. Macy then comes to find her sisters, setting the whole plot in motion.
The original series started off with three sisters who all grew up together — Prue (Doherty), Piper (Combs) and Phoebe Halliwell (Milano) — and later introduced a fourth sibling, Paige Matthews (McGowan), after Doherty’s character was killed off. Paige, the new youngest, comes to find Piper and Phoebe as an adult, having been given up for adoption by their mother as a baby. That was a decision made to protect her, since she was the product of an affair between a witch and her whitelighter. And speaking of whitelighters…
3. A British whitelighter.
Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans) is introduced to viewers as the new Charmed Ones’ whitelighter pretty quickly and what’s more is he introduces himself that way. In the original “Charmed,” the girls’ whitelighter, Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause), doesn’t show up until a few episodes in — after they have discovered they are witches and what they are capable of — and even then he keeps his identity as their guardian angel and advisor hidden until Phoebe figures it out.
Unlike Leo, Harry sticks the girls in some chairs in the attic in the pilot and lets them know what’s going on right away, being the one to reveal to the sisters they are actually witches once their powers have begun to manifest. He’s abrasive, doesn’t orb, and is possibly somewhat of a bad guy (based on that confusing ending to the series premiere). And also he’s British.
4. These girls are younger.
The original “Charmed” began with sisters in their mid to late twenties, whereas the reboot focuses on women who are still in college (undergrad and grad school) and one who is just starting out in her career as a scientist. It’s not a huge age difference, but it’s enough to possibly affect the plot moving forward, as a big part of the original “Charmed” was about the sisters’ love lives, marriages, and eventually entering motherhood.
5. Their powers are somewhat different.
Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige all had a special power, and as the series went on, some sisters added a few more to their list. Prue’s was telekinesis, Piper’s was freezing time, Phoebe had premonitions and Paige was half whitelighter, so she got an altered version of telekinesis and the ability to orb. In the reboot, the eldest and middle sisters’ powers track with the original “Charmed,” however Maggie doesn’t get premonitions — she reads minds.
6. New magic rules.
The reboot’s first episode introduces the idea that if the girls don’t decide to accept their powers together, then all the things that have been done by “magical intervention” will be undone. That was not a plot point in the original series, though believe us, there were multiple other rules revolving around the Halliwells’ powers and plenty of storylines in which they almost gave them up.
7. More diversity.
The new series, which has been advertised by The CW as a “fierce, funny, feminist” reboot, features Latina and black lead actresses, a big change from the original “Charmed,” which was led by a predominantly white cast. Sunday’s premiere also revealed early on that Mel is a member of the LGBTQ community, and though the original series did introduce non-heterosexual characters, they were never any of the core leads.