Three of the most gorgeous TV witches since the days of Elizabeth Montgomery were the heroines of the hour-long WB fantasy series Charmed, which first materialized on October 7, 1998. Reunited in their ancestral San Francisco mansion, the Halliwell sisters -- Prudence (aka Prue, played by Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), and came upon a dusty tome titled the "Book of Shadows," which by and by revealed a secret that had long been withheld from them: the sisters were witches known as the "Charmed Ones," blessed with extraordinary powers which they were expected to use in the never-ending fight of good against evil. Prue, the oldest, had the gift of telekinesis, enabling her to move objects at will; middle child Piper was able to stop time; and Phoebe, the baby of the family, was able to see the future. The ritual enabling them to combine their powers involved the linking of hands and chanting in unison, "The power of three will set us free." Of course, now that the girls knew they were witches, they were immediately targeted for destruction by all manner of warlocks, sorceresses, and malevolent spirits, many of these hoping to steal the Halliwells' powers for themselves. Also, in their efforts to lead "normal" lives and not give away their secrets, the ladies encountered a great deal of difficulty in the romance department -- not to mention the holding and maintaining of regular employment.
During season one, Prue worked for the Buckland Auction House, whose owner turned out to be a warlock; she also lost her policeman boyfriend, Andy Trudeau (T.W. King), who was killed in an effort to save the Halliwells from a demon. Phoebe's private life was not quite so tempestuous, though she had a bad habit of losing jobs due to the bad things happening around her. The impressionable Piper, who managed to find work as a caterer and later as the owner of the "P3 Club" nightspot, thought she had found true love in the form of hunky handyman Leo Wyatt (Brian Krause), until learning that Leo was a "Whitelighter," a guardian angel fated to protect all good witches from harm -- and as such, was off limits. In later seasons, however, Leo was demoted to "mortality" and was able to marry Piper, with whom he had a "bewitched" son named Wyatt. By the time Leo's powers were back to full steam in season five, he'd been appointed an "Elder" Whitelighter; his former job of protecting the sisters was taken over by another Whitelighter named Chris Perry (Drew Fuller), who turned out to have a hidden agenda.
Season three saw quite a few upheavals in the lives of the sisters, with Phoebe falling for Assistant DA Cole Turner (Julian McMahon) -- who turned out to be the demon Belthazor, and whose mission was to kill the sisters. Cole managed to purge himself of evil, only to revert to wickedness -- a cycle that continued to repeat itself until, in season four, the "bad" Cole married and impregnated Phoebe with his evil seed. Eventually the baby was stolen by a demon called The Seer (Debbi Morgan), and poor, mixed-up Cole wound up trapped in another dimension before being "vanquished" permanently. (At least Phoebe landed a permanent job as a newspaper advice columnist once the dust had settled!) As for Prue, season three of Charmed turned out to be her last when she was killed during a "demon assault." Her place in the Halliwell household was taken in season four by the girls' half sister, Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan), who like the late Prue possessed telekinetic powers. Paige would eventually find "civilian" employment as a social worker, enabling her to emulate the other girls by applying her powers for the forces of good on a full-time basis.
There were scores of additional plot complications and story arcs occurring in and out of the "real world" and back and forth in time (at one point, for example, the heroines were converted into Greek goddesses). "Charmed" though the Halliwell girls may have been, it didn't mean that they exactly led charmed lives. Perhaps it was the unstable nature of the world in which our heroines dwelled that made Charmed one of the WB's most successful offerings; viewers literally never knew what to expect from one week to the next! ~ Rovi
- Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, (more)