CHARMED: THE FINAL SEASON
Although it lasted eight seasons, the final season of CHARMED didnít represent the series at its best. Due to behind-the-scenes budget cutting, season eight of CHARMED did its best to shuffle through some weaker storylines and limited appearances by key characters. Of course, this isnít to say that the eighth season of CHARMED was without merits, itís just that the series usual witches brew of hot babes, supernatural action, romance, melodrama and humor was diluted by the lack of that one key magical ingredient- cash. Fortunately, there are more quality episodes than filler over the course of the final season, which kept the longtime fans reasonably happy.
For anyone not yet familiar with the basic premise of CHARMED, the series is concerned with the Halliwell sisters, better known as 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. 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 whitelighter abilities brings a new dimension to the fight against evil. The season eight cast of CHARMED also features Brian Krause as Piperís husband Leo Wyatt (whose character falls victim to the series budget cuts) and newcomer Kaley Cuoco as Billie Jenkins a young witch who comes to the Halliwell sisters to seek their guidance.
CHARMED: THE FINAL SEASON ($50) comes to DVD in a six-disc set, which features all twenty-two of the episodes that were aired during the series eighth year. The twenty-two featured episodes are as follows: Still Charmed & Kicking, Malice In Wonderland, Run, Piper, Run, Desperate Housewitches, Rewitched, Kill Billie: Vol. 1, The Lost Picture Show, Battle Of The Hexes, Hulkus Pocus, Vaya Con Leos, Mr. & Mrs. Witch, Payback's A Witch, Repo Manor, 12 Angry Zen, The Last Temptation Of Christy, Engaged And Confused, Generation Hex, The Torn Identity, The Jung And The Restless, Gone With The Witches, Kill Billie: Vol. 2 and Forever Charmed. Season eight finds The Charmed Ones playing dead to take a sabbatical from demon hunting, working for the government and fending off a deadly threat that turns an ally into a foe.
CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-two episodes from CHARMED: THE FINAL SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes in this collection are something of an improvement over the previous sets, but still not something to get too excited over. Image sharpness and detail are good and certainly improve on syndication. Some shots appear softer than others, but nothing is out of sorts. Colors have nice saturation and reasonably natural flesh tones. Blacks are accurate, whites are crisp, and not surprisingly, contrast remains at the television level. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred appear clean and free from appreciable flaws. Noticeable film grain crops up across all of the episodes. Digital compression artifacts are never a serious concern.
All the episodes that are featured on CHARMED: THE FINAL SEASON come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. No 5.1, no surprise. These television caliber mixes pure and simple. The forward is completely dominant and the rears offering little beyond ambient and musical fill. Fidelity holds its own for the musical content, while the sound effects get by. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. No other language tracks are included, but English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese subtitles have been provided.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, plus some supplemental content. Running Audio Commentaries are provided for the following three episodes: Still Charmed & Kicking, Vaya Con Leos and Forever Charmed. Featurettes include The Making Of Charmed (eighteen minutes), Story Of Charmed: Genesis (seventeen minutes), Story Of Charmed: Charmed Again (twenty minutes), To the Manor Born (nine minutes) and Forever Charmed (eleven minutes).
Although season eight did not reflect the series at its best, CHARMED: THE FINAL SEASON delivered most of what fans expected to see. The DVD collection is somewhat better than previous sets, with slightly stronger video and actual supplements. If you are a fan, this DVD set is certain to wind up in your DVD cauldron.
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