12 Things I Noticed Rewatching The Charmed Pilot

The Power of Three was truly iconic from the beginning.

Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty, and Holly Marie Combs starred in "Charmed." Here's everything I noti...
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Witches have experienced a major renaissance over the years IRL, in social media, and pop culture, from series like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and American Horror Story: Coven to remakes of classic films like The Craft and The Witches. But before the renewed interest in powerful females, there were first three witches in San Francisco, kicking demon butt in slinky, midriff-baring tops: Prue, Piper, and Phoebe Halliwell in the WB drama Charmed.

Over eight seasons, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and Shannen Doherty (later replaced by Rose McGowan as Paige), aka the Power of Three, became beacons of feminist strength as they fought all sorts of evil, built careers, and navigated love and family. The series even became a go-to stop for musical guests like The Cranberries, Goo Goo Dolls, and Michelle Branch, among others. Charmed’s long-standing popularity even led to a reboot in 2018, much to the chagrin of the original cast. (A fourth season is currently in the works.)

The original show’s first episode in 1998, titled “Something Wicca This Way Comes,” finds the three sisters reunited in their childhood home after Phoebe moves back — though they have sisterly kinks to work out. After a spooky series of events, the three discover the Book of Shadows, a witchy encyclopedia passed on through the ages. They find out they possess individual magical powers — Prue has telekinesis, Piper can freeze time, and Phoebe is clairvoyant. As the three most powerful witches of all time, they’re destined to do great good while also being hunted by great evil. After giving the episode another go, here are all the spooky details I noticed while rewatching the Charmed pilot in 2021, including how the women are still relevant today.

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The Theme Song Is Eerily Familiar

In the opening credits, the melody of “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths accompanies the cast’s montage of witchy antics. Fans of the genre may find it familiar as it was used in another witch project — in the 1996 movie The Craft. It just has that magic.

Darryl’s Skepticism Of The Occult Is Passé

When a string of murders leads cops Andy Trudeau (Ted King) and Darryl Morris (Dorian Gregory) to investigate, Andy correctly points out that someone is killing witches. He even conducts his investigations at occult shops. Darryl, meanwhile, is skeptical — he doesn’t believe in witches, nor in their witchy paraphernalia.

That wouldn’t happen in 2021, where it’s widely accepted that tons of people identify as witches or, at least, employ occult-adjacent paraphernalia as “self-care.” Sage, crystals, and tarot cards, among other items, are carried in stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and Goop. So get with the witchy program, Darryl.

Ouija Boards Are Always Bad News

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The first episode piled on classic elements of a horror movie, like the blackout, the dead phone line, and the sisters’ hesitation to go to either the basement or the attic. But what really sets the chilling, horror-esque tone at the beginning is the ouija board. The alphabetized tool, heralded as a communication device for spirits, definitely feels very nostalgic ’90s scary movie. Ouija boards are always an omen for trouble in any film or TV show. Please, just step away from it, Phoebe.

Witches Have Style

The sisters are always impeccably dressed — albeit not ready for demonic battle. Prue’s gray sheath dress, Piper’s kimono, and Phoebe’s athleisure look before it was a thing? Iconic. Even their nightgowns are stylish. Petition to end this early-aughts fashion comeback and bring back ’90s style instead.

Phoebe’s Living Situation Feels Of The Moment

Phoebe, having already lived independently in New York, abruptly moves back to her family’s San Francisco house. The move feels of the moment and totally understandable, especially in light of COVID-19. Spurred on by the pandemic, many big-city renters moved back to their childhood homes to live with their families, at least ’til more normalcy returns. Just like Phoebe.

The Flirting Is Too Cute

Aside from being naturals at witchcraft, it seems like the ladies are also gifted at flirting. Later on in the series, the sisters’ flings will definitely be major plot lines, but seeing Prue flirt with Andy in Episode 1 is a reminder of just how smooth and effortless they are. Not that dating mortals isn’t an issue — it is. But they got game nonetheless. And in the digital world where most (sometimes calculated) flirting occurs via text or dating app, it’s wholly impressive.

Phoebe’s Adaptability Is A Little Unbelievable

Maybe her move back meant she really was grasping at a new life, but Phoebe takes to their witchy realities way too well. Unlike her sisters, who are in disbelief and slightly resentful, Phoebe immediately accepts that they’re meant to fight bad guys and save the innocent. That’s a lot of responsibility and not a lot of time to process it.

Their Careers Take Center Stage

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When Piper first discovers she can freeze time, she’s in a bind: She’s auditioning to get hired as a chef in a restaurant, but she doesn’t have enough time to add her secret ingredient. Instead of being confused or afraid when her potential employer freezes mid-bite, she takes advantage of the extra seconds to help her land that job. Even Prue goes to work after being told she’s a witch, proving that their work is way more important than the drastic changes.

Throughout the series, Charmed seemed to make a statement that their witches would have careers — which would sometimes take precedence over their save-the-world destiny. It’s unlike their predecessors Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who battled high school woes, or Bewitched’s Samantha Stevens, who mostly kept her nose-twitching powers to smooth her affairs as a ’60s housewife.

That Lawsuit Joke Takes On A Different Meaning

When Prue’s boss and former fiancé Roger steals her account, Prue claps back by asking him if it’s because they “stopped sleeping together” or because she returned his engagement ring. He responds by saying he “certainly enjoyed one more than the other” and when Prue walks away he makes a comment about not getting a lawsuit. “Prue, wait, I feel like I should say something, if only to avoid a lawsuit,” he says.

It may seem woke to even portray this reality of workplace harassment, but it takes on a darker meaning after Variety reported allegations that Executive Producer Brad Kern made sexual remarks to the Charmed staff writers. The outlet reported that Kern’s alleged misconduct continued over the years to different sets, including NCIS: New Orleans.

In light of the allegations, Milano and Combs are asking Kern, who kept the original Book of Shadows used in the series, to auction off the former prop for a woman’s charity.

Prue’s Resolve Is Impressive

Roger’s douchebaggery doesn’t stop there. When Prue initially tries to resign, Roger threatens to ruin her reputation. She then quits — sans backup job — proving just how uncompromising and self-assured she is. Truly a feminist icon.

So The Sibling Rivalry Doesn’t Make Sense

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Given that Prue is aware her ex-fiancé is a certified jerk, it doesn’t make sense that she’d hold a grudge against Phoebe for whatever Roger said they engaged in (that Phoebe denied). In a show purportedly centering female empowerment and the tight-knit bond of sisterhood, it doesn’t seem fitting for the two leads to have a rift because of what a creepy man alleged.

The Show Is Actually Funny

While the episode’s CGI effects are hilarious for a different, nostalgic reason, there are a lot of snarky lines that are actually funny. When Phoebe divulges that they have a witch as an ancestor, for instance, Piper retorts, “And we have a cousin who’s a drunk, an aunt who’s manic, and a father who’s invisible.”