Charmed is like a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charlie's Angels. Focussing on the exploits of three twenty-something sisters who have supernatural powers, the stories tend to concern their ongoing fight against all the evil ghosts and demons that plague the world. Each of the girls has her own special talents and knowledge of spells, but united their power is multiplied considerably ('the power of three') and they are all but unstoppable.
The three young witches were originally Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) but (and a massive Season 3 spoiler follows) at the end of the last series we saw the unfortunate demise of Prue and the subsequent departure of Beverly Hills 90210's Doherty from the show. In my opinion (although many other fans may disagree), this was a tremendous loss, particularly since her replacement (Rose McGowan) really does not stand up to comparison.
The fourth season kicks off with the two remaining girls in mourning for their lost friend, with Piper in particular taking it badly and Phoebe taking comfort in the arms of her half-demon beau, Cole (Julian McMahon). They are desperate to find a spell to bring her back and find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that Prue really isn't coming back. As if things could not get any worse, the demon who took out their friend is back on the scene, threatening to destroy the last two witches, who are especially vulnerable without their 'power of three'.
To make matters worse, a fresh new cop is baying for blood and has the new girls in his sights as suspects for the murders that were actually committed by the demon. Thus far, their regular police contact, Morris, has been of immense help, but it took quite a while to earn his trust and his new cowboy colleague seems desperate to ignore all advice and ruin the uneasy alliance between the 'vigilante' witches and the police.
Fighting the demon with the help of Cole, the two remaining girls manage to survive the onslaught but are worried about further attacks. Thankfully a new girl appears on the scene, Paige (apparently your name has to begin with P if you want to be 'charmed') who has more in common with the other two than they could possibly imagine. Although improbably unaware of her own powers, it does not take long for her to form an allegiance with the other girls and pretty-soon they are back using the full 'power of three'.
The season starts with an introductory two-parter and spends the next few episodes focussing on the newcomer, Paige, who obviously makes a fair few mistakes as she starts her new career as a witch. Piper spends quite a while brooding over Prue's death but pretty-soon the season starts dipping into slightly more amusing and fluffy 'monster of the week'-style forays. The girls get shrunk, possessed and stuck in alternate realities and as the season evolves we do finally get to see the new girl finally fully integrated into the team, proving her worth both on her own and united with the others. It's difficult to know just how much readers will want to know about what happens over the rest of the season, suffice to say it's back to business as normal, with much stronger story arcs than the last, disappointing season and a few really nice, dark turns (reminiscent of Buffy's season 2 - my personal favourite). Brief spoiler for those who want more of a taster - this is the big season where Cole and Phoebe intend to get married but Cole's demonic side comes into play.
Charmed is harmless, fluffy but nevertheless quite enjoyable late-afternoon, early evening (but definitely pre-watershed) viewing. As I've stated, it has the same sort of feel to it as something like Buffy, although it is certainly more orientated towards sorcery as opposed to physical combat. This fourth season should prove a welcome addition for fans of the series, particularly with some of the season's darker developments that were planted over a series ago and only come to fruition here, but personally I still think that the show is not really the same without Shannen Doherty (Prue). But if you liked the first two seasons and were slightly disappointed by the third, you should be pleasantly surprised by the return to form of this fourth effort.
Disc One - Charmed Again (Parts 1 and 2), Hell Hath No Fury, Enter the Demon
Disc Two - Size Matters, A Knight to Remember, Brain Drain, Black as Cole
Disc Three - Muse to My Ears, A Paige from the Past, Trial by Magic, Lost and Bound
Disc Four - Charmed and Dangerous, The Three Faces of Phoebe, Marry-Go-Round, The Fifth Halliwell
Disc Five - Saving Private Leo, Bite Me, We're off to see the Wizard, Long Live the Queen
Disc Six - Womb Raider, Witch Way Now?