Joseph Viles/Fox 21
Witches of East End premiered to respectable ratings. A show about witchcraft on Lifetime makes you think of The Client List with spells instead of handies or a sorority of feelings, like Army Wives, with the occult. Instead, it’s looking a little too much like the popular series Charmed. Do the producers hope lightning strikes twice?
Charmed had notable B-list actresses fighting demons and being sisters in a red Victorian house in San Francisco. It lasted 198 episodes and became the longest running television series with all-female leads, until Desperate Housewives. Almost 15 years later to the day, Witches of East End premiered with Julia Ormond, Mrs. Channing Tatum and spritely Rachel Boston fighting evil magic in a red Victorian on Long Island.
The image of a creepily similar house keeps the ghost of Charmed alive. The similarities are staggering. People trapped in paintings, people that turn into cats, and witches in the dark about their birthright were all popular plot points in Season 1 of Charmed. Jason George as a sexy police detective echoes Dorian Gregory as a sexy cop. Hell, even the addition of former Buffy cast member Tom Lenk is similar. Quite a few actors from Buffy appeared on Charmed.
Even the four character archetypes mirror the ’90s WB series. Ormond as family matriarch seems a lot like Shannen Doherty’s type-A character, Prue. Tatum’s ne’er-do-well, bed-hopping character of Freya is not unlike Phoebe (Alyssa Milano). Boston’s high-strung but well meaning Ingrid could be a carbon-copy of Piper (Holly Marie Combs). Finally, Mädchen Amick’s snarky, sarcastic sister channels Rose McGowan’s Paige Matthews.
Similarities aside, Witches of East End doesn’t need to make allusions to Charmed. The dialogue is funny, the cast chemistry is palatable and in the realm of magic anything is possible. Hopefully later episodes find a new take on the realm of magic. If not, they should just include a character with a voice like Butters from South Park that screams, “Charmed did it!” each episode.