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Charmed: Jingle Hell (2018)
There's a decent amount of plot progression here as secrets come out.The Charmed Ones now know most of the truth about Parker, and we know who Parker's mother is.Sadly, the latter isn't very interesting and the character doesn't provide the necessary counterpoint to Caine: Parker seems to be the only one in the family with any compassion.
Mandeline Mantock gets to spend a good chunk of the episode playing Hunter-as-Macy and rises to the occasion.Mel continues to soften (although she inevitably hates her father): It's hard to imagine the character of earlier episodes giving Maggie the chat she does at the end here.
It's still not clear if we should trust the Sarcana but the answer is at least less straightforward than "No." Galvin losing his mark opens the way for him and Macy but raises questions about Macy's nature, given the reaction it had to Parker.
The episode loses at least a point for its contrived cliffhanger: Everyone can see Harry's too near the fissure but no-one bothers to hold out a hand or suggest he moves.
So who are the bad guys then?
Things are getting pleasingly complex now. Caine's "evil" plan seems to be to simply keep Parker alive, making him not entirely unsympathetic although this is counterpointed by the ruthlessness he and Hunter have shown. We've no real reason to trust Jada's version of events, but the Elders aren't exactly reassuring either and it's possible there are things even Harry doesn't know. In the midst of this, it seems the villains of the week are unconnected to what Jada and the Saranacy are doing with Macy getting to show her darker side in disposing of one.
And while Mel is feeling increasingly and thankfully removed from her original rather arrogant portrayal, Macy seems to get another chance with Galvin, although his protection mark may be the least of their obstacles.
Charmed: Out of Scythe (2018)
Hang on, is that it?
For much of its run, this one seems to be shaping up to be a good episode, with the Charmed Ones on the hunt for a mystical artifact, pursued by a mysterious opponent.We know from fairly early on that Caine is behind the other demon, although his involvement in the season arc remains unclear, but we don't find out who else is behind things until the final scene.Meanwhile, all three sisters have challenges that cause them to redefine themselves.
Unfortunately, it all falls flat.We get an anti-climax climax that doesn't really solve anything an act from the end, and instead of revisiting it, the episode limps to a conclusion by dealing with lesser issues.Some of these are quite good, such as Macy demonstrating steal in sorting out a problem at work, and Mel seems to be becoming a bit more three-dimensional as she decides she doesn't want a career writing feminist propaganda, but it's hard to care that much when there's a demon-freeing artifact out there.
There seems to be a move towards more serialised storytelling, which is necessary, but it leaves this episode very unfulfilling in isolation.
Charmed: Kappa Spirit (2018)
So we're starting to get an idea of what a normal episode of this rebooted Charmed is like, and it turns out to involve very little Power of Three, as for much of the episode it's Maggie and Mel in one storyline and Macy in the other, with only Harry crossing over.The standalone storyline of a sorority spirit seeking vengeance isn't particularly interesting but does at least advance the story of Maggie's estrangement from Lucy.Mel is annoying and judgemental again, making comments about "the patriarchy" for no reason other than that she's that sort of character, and using her powers to stop her sister getting a drink thrown over her doesn't seem a very good use for them. The pair's trip back to the 80s has potential to be interesting but only lasts a couple of minutes and is mostly an excuse to namedrop British royalty.
Meanwhile, Macy's investigation into Galvin's mark raises the possibility that its purpose might be to protect him from *her*, which seems to be connected to why her mother gave her up and which the Caines may already know about...
Charmed: Other Women (2018)
Close but no cigar
There's a curious reformatting of the show this week, as if someone's decided at a very early stage that some elements aren't working.Some of this is welcome: Harry's becoming closer to the girls as he ends up with them full-time and there finally seems to be a toning down of the more aggressive elements of Mel's character.After his cameo last episode, the sinister Caine and his ally Hunter continue to move centre stage, although curiously it seems they're not the Big Bad after all, merely taking advantage of someone else's scheme.
The episode seems to set up an ongoing plotline of Niko investigating the recent events that Mel is indelibly involved in and a one-episode plotline of Macy and Maggie finding out Galvin's new girlfriend is a succubus, only to invert both right at the end.The time alteration spell seems like both a cheat and potentially very dangerous:We get a sign of the consequences to Mel of the new timeline at the end but it's to be hoped they will be more far reaching than that.Is that the end of Niko on the series?Maybe, and to be honest she won't be missed as she's always felt tacked on.Meanwhile, it seems the mystery of the mark on Galvin's hip is deeper than it first appeared but too vague to be intriguing.
The C-plot of Maggie feeling guilty about kissing her friend's boyfriend largely pales in comparison, but at least there's a resolution and a possible end to Maggie's sorority plot thread.
Charmed: Exorcise Your Demons (2018)
Did this show suddenly get...good?
Wow, this is undoubtedly the best episode yet, as the Charmed Ones find themselves faced with a real moral dilemma. The argument goes back and forth and, while the sisters are in agreement at the end, it's not entirely certain the choice they made was the right one: They saved Angela but an innocent man was not only killed but had his name besmirched. (And is it only me who wonders if it was the Charmed One's new ally that killed him?) And Mel gets to see the consequences of her choice first hand.
With Mel and Macy personifying the opposite sides of the argument, Maggie is left with the personal storyline and even this goes into morally grey areas: Kissing a friend's boyfriend, even a vacuous one and even as a distraction, is crossing a line.
And we are introduced to Elder Charity, who starts off as another "Screw anyone with a Y chromosome" character but gradually becomes more as the Charmed Ones find themselves at odds with her. Even though she helps them in the end, it still isn't entirely clear if we can trust her...especially after that ambiguous final scene. (Was she hypnotised or is she playing both sides?) It also promises a villainous turn from the sublime Craig Parker, which is something to look forward to.
Charmed: Sweet Tooth (2018)
Seriously, you need to stop
Well, Mel continues to come across as a sexist, racist misanthrope and it's starting to get in the way of things, to the point that when she's alone with the demon my first thought was "Kill her!". There's also not much chemistry between her and her girlfriend (what happened to her glasses, by the way?), who seems to mainly exist for near misses. Mel does have a couple of proper conversations with Harry that soften her a bit, but it's hard not to suspect that next episode she'll be back to making speeches about how everything's the fault of the patriarchy. Still, at least the demon kills the obnoxious female student as well as the obnoxious male student. That's progress of a sort.
Macy gets some work. It's interesting to have a reasonably well-adjusted adult who just happens to be a virgin, although it's now a bet on how many episodes until that isn't the case as she throws caution to the wind with Gavin. (Mel's reference to being with a guy once is presumably to avoid having to address whether she's a "technical virgin" or not.) And it's nice to get a reminder that she's still a near-stranger to the others.
Parker's introductory moment, being rude to a difficult customer, isn't as endearing as the episode seems to think. Still, it's amusing that, while the original Charmed was one of the last shows that could pretend mobile phones don't exist, Maggie is a true millennial glued to hers.
As for the actual episode plot: Having built up the Harbinger into something important, the show can't really get rid of it in one episode, so at the end it's down but not out. Still not really clear where we go from here though?
Charmed: Let This Mother Out (2018)
It isn't a surprise that Harry turns out not to be evil (he is main cast, after all), although it is a relief. Mel continues to be unlikeable, although she's not quite as bad as in the pilot and comes to her senses just in time, as well as getting an important lesson in personal gain magic, so hopefully she's heading in the right direction. Maggie is shaping up to be the potential breakout character. Macy is just sort of there, and her scientific background is in danger of being a character quirk rather than a useful asset, but at least we get a reasonably credible explanation for her living at the manor.
The show seems in a bit too much of a rush though, as if they're worried they're going to get cancelled before finishing the storyline. Not only do they seem to be setting up a designated love interest for each sister, but it's only episode two and the end of the world is already nigh? It might have been best to have a few standalone monster-of-the-week episodes first before picking up on apparently minor plot threads from the pilot, instead of diving straight in.
Nice to have a Brexit joke in an American series, even though it doesn't make much sense. Unless they're saying Nigel Farage is a demon. That would make sense.
Men are not the enemy, ladies
It took me at least two attempts to watch this pilot but I was intrigued enough to give it a try. There seems to be an assumption that people will come to the series knowing what to expect, so there's no real attempt to disguise what the show is about. Instead, a mythology that the original version took at least two seasons to establish is set-up in a one scene infodump from Harry: the Charmed Ones, their witch ancestry, the Book of Shadows, Whitelighters and the Source of All Evil. Plus the season four addition of an unknown half-sister.
This is sensible, but unfortunately the show has confused feminism with misandry. A lot of people thought Donald Trump being elected president was a sign of the apocalypse, but that's no reason to make it a sign of the actual apocalypse. This wouldn't be too bad if it was a one-off joke but this hatred of men permeates the whole episode. In the opening minutes, we have Mel telling a girl making out with her boyfriend that she can withdraw consent, just to be unpleasant (a comment that is then echoed by sister Maggie to her demon-possessed boyfriend, which is more uncomfortable than triumphant), before making racist and sexist comments to a new professor and agreeing he should be ashamed to be a man. (She's also a lesbian, just to make it really clear she's a man-hater.) This character is so awfully misanthropic, hating literally everyone including her own sisters, that I was hoping for a surprise first episode death. Hopefully this is just an unfavourable first impression, since she does seem to have resolved to let go of her anger by the end. We're encouraged to hate a group of protestors saying not all men are bad, as if they're somehow wrong. And the episode ends with us being told not to trust the only man not presented as a demon or a potential rapist (two things which seem to be almost interchangeable).
It's not all bad. There are some interesting mysteries set up with the murder of the sisters' mother, it's hard not to feel a thrill at the closing Power of Three spell, younger sister Maggie is basically likeable and making older half-sister Macy a scientist is an intriguing idea. And she's played by the devine Madeleine Mantock, last seen as one of the best things about the travesty that was the Tomorrow People reboot, which shows that it is possible to have a remake that's more of an insult to the original than this is. But hopefully this is as low as it's going to get.
The X Files: My Struggle III (2018)
Sadly, not a joke
This is quite possibly one of the worst pieces of television ever made.
It starts off with a pompous pre-credit sequence designed to have the audience laughing in derision as the credits role.(The Smoking Man faked the moon landing!)And then it goes downhill from there, as it becomes clear that Chris Carter had no idea how to get out of the corner he wrote himself into at the end of the last series...so he writes off the previous season's finale as a dream.Yes, really.And just when you think it can't get any worse, Mulder starts doing voiceovers.I'd like to think this is a deliberate pastiche of film noir detective stories but given how ponderously serious the rest of the episode takes itself, it's probably not meant to be as funny as it is.
Sadly, two of the worst parts of The Dream are apparently true.The Cigarette Smoking Man is alive and Monica Reyes is working for him.The latter feels like an attempt at camaraderie with everyone who thinks Season 9 isn't proper X-Files.("Hey, that character you hate for not being Mulder or Scully has turned evil!")But it's a slap in the face for anyone who followed the show loyally.The only thing this character has in common with the kindly quirky Mulder-substitute of the original run is that they're played by the same actress.Fan favourite Skinner isn't treated much better, abruptly being shady and untrustworthy.Meanwhile, likable new additions Einstein and Miller are reduced to a cameo, as if they only had the actors for a day and wanted an excuse to put them in the credits and pretend this is a continuation of the previous episode.
On the plus side, the mythology is starting to at least vaguely resemble that of the original run and it looks like we can write off the non-sequiturs of the previous season premiere as another smokescreen like Gethsemane/Redux.And the idea of two ex-Syndicate members creating a rival conspiracy to the Smoking Man is intriguing.But there's no plot, no story, just exposition that may or may not be contradicted later and action sequences thrown in to make sure people are awake.At the end, having neither learned nor achieved anything of significance, Mulder and Scully just shrug their shoulders and decide to investigate some unrelated cases.
Oh, except it's not over as we get a final revelation to make us all groan in disbelief as Chris Carter once again decides to explain something he's already explained differently.And it's an explanation that people joked about 18 years ago then waited to hear what the real story was.Honestly, how many times is the Cigarette Smoking Man going to be proclaimed as someone's father?This is at least the fourth.
It's the 21st century and The X-Files still doesn't have a clue where it's going.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6462 (2016)
"They're going to get themselves killed or they'll get caught"
This is the point.The point where we have to admit that the Home and Away they we knew is dead and gone.The show that began in 1988 would never have allowed two such reprehensible characters as Josh and Andy to drive off into the sunset, having killed four people and got away with it, while cheery music plays.When Evelyn is the most moral character in the episode, you know you're in trouble.Matt cheering on a cold-blooded killer responsible for the death of one of his best friends causes him to lose a lot of sympathy.That's before you even get on to the farce of their escape, with Josh, an effective life prisoner, having a single easily bribed guard and being taken out to a public road where any psychotic brother can drive past and pick him up, and the police unable to catch a vehicle that's right in front of them.What a pathetic joke of an ending to six months of turgid storytelling.
Sitting awkwardly alongside this sickening dross is a story about Nate and Tori being cute before he gets attacked by a psycho with a syringe. Who'll probably be forgiven and dating Kat by the end of the year.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6461 (2016)
"So the HSC's important, but you and the baby aren't?"
It's frustrating that the script seems to expect us to be on Leah's side, after she's driven VJ out of the house with her constant nagging and inability to treat him like a grown-up when he's apparently about to become a father.Billie's unease about how things have happened is understandable but it seems like Leah's portrayal as supportive is slightly rose-tinted.At least Phoebe seems okay with having VJ around.
Josh is another character that the script seems to expect us to be on the side of and it's hard to see why.Everyone trudging through his cell to say goodbye to him as if he didn't kill someone is frustrating, as is Andy's continued illegal actions to try and get them both off the hook.But it won't actually happen...right?
Home and Away: Episode #1.6460 (2016)
"I've grown attached to this tiny little thing"
A mixture of the good and the bad.We finally get a pay-off to Alf's behaviour after about two weeks worth of bullying people.It's a storyline that deserved about half the amount of episodes it's had devoted to it, but at least he finally realises how stupid he's been and accepts Roo, Matt and Justin's assistance.
Less successful is the way John changes his mind about fostering.This should be a reinstatement of the show's core concept of opening your doors to children in need, but instead it comes across as Marilyn being selfish, the Palmers unable to survive as a couple without a child to keep them together and Leah guilt-tripping John into doing something he didn't want to.
In fact, it's a pretty poor episode for Leah...and indeed Zac, as their appalling parenting tactics are laid bare.Hunter wanders around wallowing in self-pity, yelling at a typically clingy Olivia and burning any trace of Charlotte(because heaven forbid she be viewed as a human being)and Leah and Zac just sit back going "Well, we'll help him when he wants us to." VJ chooses to support his pregnant girlfriend who's just had a scare and they try to bully him into studying for a qualification that he doesn't particularly want or need.Him announcing he's moving out really is a moment to cheer.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6459 (2016)
"Rough night, huh?"
This is...a bit better.The Alf storyline continues to let it down with even Matt's blunt honesty fail to have any impact.Once more, Roo seems to tell everyone except Alf that his decision to close down the bait shop makes no sense.Meanwhile, John finally challenges Marilyn's desire for foster children and asks her if he's enough for her: She ultimately decides he is, even if she seems less than certain.
Chris and Olivia continue to work well and it's a shame it's taken this long for them to be a team.Chris once more comes up with an unorthodox method of counselling and ultimately Irene benefits from Billie's assistance, in a scene that is just dripping with hidden meaning.Billie and VJ continue to be sweet together and it's to be hoped that Billie's alarm at the end is just misdirection.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6458 (2016)
"It looks like you're thinking of working, which is way too soon"
So we get an explanation for the Morgans, although it's still rather garbled and feels like no-one really knows how witness protection works. Or, indeed, what they're being protected from and why.Lara is increasingly feeling like a mere plot device, not helped by the fact she looks a lot older than Mason.And we're treated to another daftly named hit-man.
Someone seems to have goofed and given Alf and Irene the same storyline, as they both insist on carrying on as normal when they're not up to it, simultaneously expecting everyone else to carry them while yelling at them when they try and help.In fact, Marilyn's storyline isn't much better, as she sulks at John and acts like he's the one in the wrong when he's already bent over backwards to accommodate her whims.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6457 (2016)
"You're not exactly a good horse to bet on, Barrett, so why should I?"
Andy once again proves what a thoroughly unlikable individual he is, outright betraying Ash and Kat who have both given him more help than he deserves, just because he thinks Josh should get away with killing someone.Ash really should have listened to Justin, who's in a more tolerable mode today and shows he has morals that the outgoing characters lack.
Phoebe is slightly annoying with Brody but probably works better with the Masons than with the Braxtons.Alf's attitude towards the bait shop continues to be illogical if understandable but it's a shame Roo doesn't give him a proper talking to.
Evelyn is only in the episode to feel sorry for herself and cause conflict between Mason and Lara.Mason finally reveals the family's secret at the end...shame it's something half the audience already dismissed as being too ridiculous.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6456 (2016)
"He did the right thing by coming forward"
Josh finally gains the backbone to take responsibility for what he's done...a concept that is completely lost on Andy, who is soon coming up with plans to save someone who doesn't want saving, sacrificing Ash and his misguided loyalty in the process.It's another frustrating spanner in Ash and Kat's relationship, with the latter realising that the only criminal left unpunished is her.The reveal of Josh as the killer gets a typically low-key reaction from the other characters, with the likes of Zac and Hunter pretty much taking it in their stride.
Meanwhile, Alf continues to be a difficult patient and his desire to keep the bait shop open seems to serve no purpose other than creating conflict.Mason is a bit of an inconsistent character, managing to get up Nate's nose but charming Alf and Roo.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6455 (2016)
"I'll always be someone that killed somebody"
So Josh accepts his fate and so does Evelyn.What you think of their farewell scene probably depends on whether you accept them as a together-forever couple or not, but I guess it was needed.Matt feels like a bit of an intruder, while Andy gets successfully tricked into unincriminating himself.
Hunter's community service is laughable, with his supervisor betrayed like a villain simply for not being a pushover and the over-the-top collapse of new boy Jordan in order to vindicate Hunter's complaining. Zac does need to learn some objectivity.
There's a decent moment for Irene which reminds us of everything she's been through lately, while Marilyn learns that John's experiences in her absence have changed him.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6454 (2016)
"Yeah but you said you're sorry"
So, Hunter gets away with everything.Well, it's to be expected, as is the way that everyone has just shrugged it off and carried on treating him like a cute little cherub.There does seem to be an odd attempt to invoke the spirit of Home and Away here though, with Zac encouraging him to make the most of his second chance.Time will tell.
It's ironic to see this juxtaposed with Josh yelling "Things will never be normal again!" at Evie.Cos, hey, they will if you're still under contract.The blossoming friendship between Matt and Mason is interesting, while Brody struggles to contain his Bad Boss tendencies. But they are only directed at Phoebe, who admittedly is just trying to be a good friend to Billie.Finding out the identity of her attacker, instead of giving her closure, has just opened up barely healed wounds and left her more determined than ever to hide what happened to her.
And Alf was grumpy.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6453 (2016)
"Don't you just hate it when real life gets in the way?"
So...we finally get the identity of Billie's attacker.Tessa de Josselin and Isabelle Giovinazzo hit it out of the park in their scenes, to the point that you almost forgive the ease with which Billie gets past a police guard.But there's a whole heap of denial that she's not willing to get past yet.
Andy as a moral voice is pretty much impossible to accept but it is good to see Kat realising she's being hypocritical over Ash.There's a nice bonding scene as Nate and Ash discuss the policewoman.We're no closer to learning what's going on with the Morgans but Brody seems determined to knuckle down and build a life and manages to encourage Tori to do the same.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6452 (2016)
"You look a lot better than the last time I saw you"
So, Irene's finally back with us: It's a moment to cheer when she knocks out Mick, even if the way she bumps into Chris and Olivia straight afterwards is a bit of a stretch.The reveal of Mick's identity isn't much of a surprise, we've already had one bluff this season.Chris and Olivia struggle with what to say, although it's nice to see Leah and Marilyn supporting her, even if Marilyn is frustratingly self-centred elsewhere.
Roo goes behind Alf's back and hires Justin, which she's probably going to get hell for at some point.And Justin is back to dictating who his family can associate with, which isn't a particularly attractive quality:Tori ending her friendship with Nate as a result is rather disappointing.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6451 (2016)
"As if you're gonna wake up just because I'm here"
Marilyn's return...kind of reminds me why I haven't really missed her that much.The character continues to be in full-on caricature territory and the constant fawning from Alf, Roo and John doesn't really ring true.Neither does Alf's recovery, although it looks like it might not be as simple as him just waking up.
It's a bad move for the show to put Olivia in a situation where she has to choose between saving Irene and saving herself and have her choose to save herself, even if it does try to stop us noticing by have her find Mick's hideaway.Because yes, Mick's been keeping Irene hostage for weeks and no-one's noticed.We're way past the point where the audience actually cares, we just want it to be over.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6450 (2016)
"You can't do this, he hasn't done anything wrong!"
Despite Josh's arrest, the murder storyline continues to be running on the spot.Kat wants Josh to confess, Evelyn doesn't, Josh decides to confess and then doesn't, Kat blames Ash.And Evelyn issues a pretty empty threat to Kat.
There's some lovely scenes between VJ and Billie, with the latter actually seeming to be a good influence despite her deception.It's certainly enough to counterpoint Zac indulging in some meddling that seems to have been written for Leah.
So, after what feels like six months but is actually about two, Chris and Olivia finally work out that Irene's been kidnapped.Hopefully there's an explanation coming for why her captor's suddenly revealed it now.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6449 (2016)
"You really are an expert at stuffing things up"
Kat's credibility as a police officer is at an all-time low: She's covered up two murders and here lets a dangerous repeat offender back on the street without a second thought, while insisting it's all Ash's fault.The leniency shown towards Hunter, who has just stabbed someone while out on bail for putting someone else in hospital for months, is ridiculous.So too is the utterly pointless speech Hunter gives to Andy, who quite clearly couldn't care less.
So, having assassinated Ash's character, it's now Zac's turn.His unsympathetic attitude towards Billie and berating VJ for trying to be responsible (in his own VJ way) is deeply frustrating, as is Ash bullying a schoolboy instead of supporting his sister.
And a deliciously ironic cliffhanger which demonstrates how Josh and Andy's attempts to defy the law are only making things worse for themselves.
Home and Away: Episode #1.6448 (2016)
"This restaurant's seen enough idiots trying to punch each other out"
There's a deliciously post-modern touch to Phoebe's reaction to the truth about the Morgans, as if she's slowly twigging that she's got herself mixed up with the replacements for the Braxtons.Justin continues to lay down the law with Mason and it's hard not to hope Mason ignores him.
Alf's plight oddly seems like an after-thought with the scenes of everyone sitting around waiting for news starting to get a bit samey. And the Nate and Tori scenes feel like an idea someone had that they didn't quite know what to do with.
The Barrett drama is as frustrating as ever.Evelyn is selfish, Josh is cowardly and aggressive, and Zac doesn't seem to care that his son's mother was murdered, basically telling Hunter to get over it.Hunter's attack on Andy is vaguely satisfying, although it'll no doubt get glossed over and the logic of Hunter thinking Andy was a "good guy" continues to be deeply flawed.