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The end of season three of marked the departure of actress Shannen Doherty from the delightful television witches brew known as CHARMED. Since the actress and her character were integral to the series and its basic premise of Power of Three, this left the creative team behind the series scrambling to come up with a way to replace the character of Prue Halliwell and her place amongst her sister witches. Of course, a rabbit was pulled out of the hat in the form a half sister to the Halliwells, whose half witch/half white lighter heritage forced her to remain hidden from not only her siblings, but also the powers that be.

For anyone not yet familiar with the basic premise of CHARMED, the series is concerned with the Halliwell sisters, who, upon the death of their grandmother, became The Charmed Ones, the three most powerful witches the world has ever known. On a weekly basis, the Halliwell sisters use their powers to protect the innocent and fight against the forces of darkness. When the eldest of the Halliwells became a casualty of their ongoing battle against evil, a previously unknown half sister emerged and took the place of her older sibling to reconstitute the Power of Three. CHARMED stars Alyssa Milano as Phoebe Halliwell, who has the gift of second sight, Holly Marie Combs is her older sister Piper Halliwell, who can freeze time, and finally, Rose McGowan is half sister Paige Matthews, whose half witch/half white lighter abilities brings a new dimension to the fight against evil. The season four cast of CHARMED also features Brian Krause, Dorian Gregory and Julian McMahon.

CHARMED: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON ($50) comes to DVD in a six-disc set, which features all twenty-one episodes (including a double length season premiere) that were aired during year four. The twenty-one featured episodes are as follows: Charmed Again, Hell Hath No Fury, Enter The Demon, Size Matters, A Knight To Remember, Brain Drain, Black As Cole, Muse To My Ears, A Paige From The Past, Trial By Magic, Lost And Bound, Charmed And Dangerous, The Three Faces Of Phoebe, Marry-Go-Round, The Fifth Halliwheel, Saving Private Leo, Bite Me, We're Off To See The Wizard, Long Live The Queen, Womb Raider and Witch Way Now?.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-one episodes from CHARMED THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Like the preceding three season sets, CHARMED THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON looks quite good for this type of television production. The image generally appears pretty sharp and offers good television level definition. Colors are pretty vibrant and the flesh tones are appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are clean and contrast is smooth. Lighting is fairly well done, without too much of the expected television flatness. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred are clean and free from serious flaws. Even with four episodes on a dual layer disc, digital compression artifacts are usually well concealed.

All the episodes that comprise CHARMED: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. Again, I have to say that having the soundtracks remastered into 5.1 would have sounded better, but the standard surround gets the job done. As a television production, the mix for CHARMED remains forward loaded. The rear channels add a bit of ambience, as well as light effects and musical fill. Channel separations across the front are fairly mild, which evidence the production’s television origins. Fidelity is pretty strong with the musical content sounding pretty great and the sound effects coming across in a convincing manner. Dialogue is crisp and very easy to understand. No other language tracks are provided, nor have subtitles been included. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection features. No additional content has been included.

For me, CHARMED remains one of the highlights of the WB television schedule thanks to its playful mix of the supernatural action, comedy and drama. Oh and let us not forget the show’s high eye candy quotient, which was made even stronger by the addition of Rose McGowan to the cast. Like the preceding three seasons, Paramount’s DVD set looks and sounds better than a typical syndicated rebroadcast, plus includes that all important hocus pocus to make all the evil commercials disappear. If you are a devotee of the Power of Three, then CHARMED: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON is another must have for your DVD collection. Recommended.



Charmed - The Complete Fourth Season (1998)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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