Posted: 19 Jul 2011 04:40 AM PDT
The secret circle of people with an ability to cast powerful spells reconvenes on television.
HEY, remember that time when witches were portrayed as hags with warts on their noses, and they rode dirty broomsticks through the night sky while cackling at the moon. Well, that's how it was generally depicted in a famous theatre production and cartoons.
Then, in 1964, a shiny new witch came into our living rooms via the television – Samantha Stephens (portrayed by Elizabeth Montgomery) of the series Bewitched.
It depicts the life of Samantha, who marries an ordinary man much to her mother's shock. From time to time, trouble brews in this happy family, no thanks to Samantha's mother. That's when Sam casts a spell to save the day, and she does this by twitching her nose.
But magic isn't always the solution. Most times than not, she solves her domestic problems like a regular person. After all, the supernatural elements in the show are nothing more than metaphors for any typical marital problem.
This series ended in 1972 with a spin-off titled Tabitha, which is based on Samantha's daughter (the adult Tabitha was played by Lisa Hartman). But this one didn't last more than 12 episodes.
While there were some other witches who have popped up on our radars – especially in the films (The Practical Magic, Witches Of Eastwick and The Crucibles) – television didn't offer anything that would keep the audience spellbound.
Then in the 1990s, the witches' time came around again. From the look of things, they haven't looked back since – they've managed to hold onto their presence even when other supernatural beings have come into the picture (yes, we're talking about you, vampires and werewolves).
Here we take a look at five of our favourite witches. Sorry Alex Russo (Selena Gomez in The Wizards of Waverly Place), you didn't make the cut.
1. Bonnie Bennett (Katerina Graham) of The Vampire Diaries – When two vampires are in love with you, it pays to have a best friend who is a powerful witch as you are bound to get into all kinds of trouble. Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) and Bonnie have been BFF, like, erm, forever.
However, when the Salvatore brothers (who are two very good-looking vampires) arrive in Mystic Falls, Bonnie begins to realise she may have paranormal powers.
Later, Bonnie learns from her grandmother that she is a natural-born witch whose ancestors originate from Salem, Massachusetts (they fled the town when the Salem Witch Trials began).
Bonnie also discovers there are others like her – but not all of the witches and warlocks are selfless like she is. She is such a good friend, that although she is not in favour of Elena dating a vampire, Bonnie still helps the Salvatore brothers when they run into danger. See what Bonnie is up to in Season Two, which is showing on 8TV on Tuesdays at 9.30pm
2. Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis), True Blood – In Season Three of True Blood, it is revealed that Lafayette may be a male witch. He and his boyfriend Jesus Valeasquez (Kevin Alejandro) – a proud "brujo" or male witch – took a trippy journey in their minds after consuming vampire blood, where they encounter a shaman.
The connection between Lafayette and witchcraft is still not clear as the stylish cook at Merlott's is not accepting all the magic mumbo-jumbo Jesus is spouting.
In the new season, the storyline goes a little deeper into witchcraft when some evil witches plan to wreak havoc in Bon Temps, forcing our heroine – Sookie (Anna Paquin) – to face down a coven. Wait for it in Season Four, returning on HBO sometime in October.
3. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), Buffy The Vampire Slayer – In the first season of Buffy, Willow is a shy and nerdy girl who befriends Buffy who fights with vampires and demons. Later on, Willow begins dabbling in witchcraft. As it turns out, Willow has the gift to be a powerful witch. As she casts more and more spells, she becomes a person who is more reliant on magic to do even the simplest things.
Things turn really ugly when her girlfriend Tara is killed and Willow turns powerfully dark (for more metaphoric impact, her red hair is transformed into black) and goes on a revenge rampage. Fortunately, her friends save her and she has to relearn to use magic for good again.
4. The Halliwell sisters (Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan), Charmed – The Halliwell sisters discover they are part of long line of witches who must battle against forces of evil using witchcraft. Dubbed as the Charmed Ones, they use their ancestral spell book – Book Of Shadows – to protect the innocent.
The show falls in the realm of soap opera but the fashion, the actresses and comical moments have all worked their magic on the audience and we kept on watching. Charmed went on for eight years, not even slacking in viewership when Doherty's character was killed off and replaced with another Halliwell played by Rose McGowan.
5. Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) in Sabrina, The Teenage Witch – Based on the Archie comic book series, Sabrina was born to a warlock dad and a mortal mum. She has two aunts – both a tad eccentric, OK forget the tad – and a talking cat named Salem. She may have magical powers, but she still has to get through the teen angst and growing pains like any other teenager.Full Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Posted: 19 Jul 2011 04:36 AM PDT
The Sofa Spudniks remember the good ol' days of watching telly and marvel at how some genres evolve but have such staying power.BEFORE there was McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) on Grey's Anatomy, there was Dr Gonzo Gates (Gregory Harrison) on Trapper John M.D. And before Dr Gonzo Gates, there was Dr Kildare (Richard Chamberlain) on Dr Kildare. All heartthrobs, all hot, hot doctors on medical dramas over the years. Medical dramas have always been a hit on TV (and not just because of the leading men) and they've always been a hit with me.
Trapper John M.D. was my first favourite medical drama. I was in primary school when the series was on – way too young to have an actual crush on Dr George Alanzo Gates aka Gonzo Gates (besides, my sister who was then a teenager with raging hormones, called dibs on him. It sucks being the youngest!). But I was old enough to love the series. I loved the drama (there was always some sort of unfolding drama in every episode), I loved the romance (Gonzo Gates – yes, the name has to be said in full – was quite the ladies' man, although in those days, things didn't heat up quite so much) and I loved watching the doctors save patients. Everybody loves a hero, right?
Well, Trapper John M.D. ended in 1986 and I remember being quite sad. I didn't realise then that medical dramas just like it would always be made, albeit modified to suit the times.
Think about it – there has never been a shortage of television hospitals and the drama that comes with the territory.
In the 1990s, there was ER (Noah Wyle and George Clooney in scrubs? Nice!) and Chicago Hope (Peter Berg is just so lovely) and don't forget Doogie Howser, M.D. (Neil Patrick Harris was a scene-stealer even then).
ER (set in the Emergency Room of the fictional County General Hospital in Chicago) was especially significant, not just because of Wyle and Clooney, but because it introduced chaos and realism into the genre: the pace was hopped-up and the stories were continuous, overlapping and messy. The situations were more believable too – things went wrong; doctors botched up big time; issues were raised.
ER brought grunge and glamour into the previously all-too-sterile hospital sets and for that, it became a hit (the show ran for 15 seasons and remains the longest-running primetime medical drama in the United States).
Even now, medical dramas are extremely popular – just look at the new medical series that keep sprouting (Hawthorne and Miami Medical being among the more recent ones).
Some series continue to push the boundaries – and by "some" I really mean the genre-bending House M.D. which stars the oh-so-hot-but-also-nasty Hugh Laurie. House took a fresh approach to the time-honoured genre and, despite my constant gushing over Laurie, the show really hasn't spawned any hearthrobs. It rocks because it's different, has good writers (though I'm not so thrilled about Season Seven), multi-dimensional characters that develop and interesting storylines.
Other medical dramas that have upped the ante include the always hilarious Scrubs (which brought interns/medical students to the forefront way before current hit series Grey's Anatomy) and Nurse Jackie (that focuses on nurses, starring Edie Falco).
But, if you're not looking for change and just want the romance-laden, soap opera-laced medical dramas – that is if you want hot guys in scrubs – you have nothing to worry about: Grey's Anatomy has been picked up for yet another season! So has its spin-off Private Practice.
Hot docs are here to stay though, even if like McDreamy, they may just be re-imaginations of old classics. Yes, I am 100% sure that McDreamy is the re-imagined Gonzo Gates.
No? Well, check this out. McDreamy is handsome, has gorgeous eyes and out-of this world thick and luscious hair, is a brilliant doctor and is super cool too (he lives not in a penthouse or big suburban house, but in a pimped-out silver trailer).
Well, guess what? Gonzo Gates was handsome too, had fabulous hair and dreamy eyes and lived in a mobile home which he parked on the hospital grounds. Sure, he wasn't a hot shot neurosurgeon with a troubled, complicated personal life but I'm darn sure he was the original McDreamy. And, I really think Gonzo Gates is a much cooler name! – S.I.I'm a little bit country, And I'm a little bit rock'n'roll. Put up your hands if you know which brother and sister duo would sing that number every week on television.
The year was 1976 and I was in Standard Two. Created by Sid & Marty Krofft (boy-oh-boy they must have been the Simon Fuller of the 70s), Donnie & Marie was one of those variety shows that my family and I would never miss. Cheesy? Yes, it had an ice-skating intro for crying out loud. Shortlived? Yes, it got yanked off the air after three years because Donnie was no longer on the market (he got married to a childhood sweetheart). Significant? Well, Donnie (then 18) and Marie Osmond (16) were the youngest ever hosts on television at the time. Did I love the show? You bet your bottom dollar.
Donnie and Marie Osmond were my idols, laugh all you want. I'd never miss a show, and I just loved it when they did their country/rock'n'roll trade off segment (Marie was country and Donnie, rock'n'roll for those of you who have no idea what I'm on about), and when they came to the end of the show (when they'd sing their signature May tomorrow be a perfect day, may you find love and laughter all the way ... I can still remember the lyrics more than three decades later!)
Sid & Marty Krofft (TV producer siblings) were masters of the variety genre and they had a string of TV shows which kept me glued to the telly. (The Krofft Supershow was one of those Saturday afternoon programmes I'd never miss come hell or high water!)
There were other variety shows back in the day which always somehow appealed to everyone in my family – mum, dad and maid included! One such show was BBC's The Rolf Harris Show, which featured Australian Rolf Harris in a sort of variety-talk-art show (broadcast from 1967-1974 on BBC1,
I'm not sure when it came to Malaysia but I think it must have been in the late 70s).
I remember the show having dancing, singing and incredible instruments like the didjeridoo and the wobble board; I remember a live audience and that he'd usually end the episode by painting something in a very avant-garde way – with a large painting brush and splashes of paint that at first didn't resemble anything and then would suddenly transform into an incredible piece of art. (It's worth going to YouTube and seeing one of these very interesting sessions, believe me!)
My sisters and I still sing Rolf Harris songs today (we do a decent Court Of King Caractacus), and I think we learnt them all from that show, it left an indellible impression no doubt.
Fast forward to today and I see history repeat itself often. I and my two kids, we don't agree on many things. But when American Idol is on, you'll find us huddling in front of the telly together (rooting for different performers nonetheless). Ditto the "quality family time" for So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent and Got To Dance – reality shows which I think are the result of years of evolution of the variety genre.
You've got people of all ages, creeds and colour dancing and singing (and occasionally doing other zany things on stage); there's a little bit of country, a little bit of rock'n'roll; lavish sets; throw in some spitfire critical analyses (that would be Simon Cowell) and somehow everyone – whether you're eight and in primary school, a teenage college student, 40something journalist or retired grandfather – is suddenly bright-eyed and on the couch for the next couple of hours. And there's something magical about the variety show that keeps us coming back for more. – A.M.C
■ Ann Marie thinks 'Parenthood' is the 'Little House On The Prairie' of the 2000s, but Indra disagrees. What are the programmes of yesteryear that you remember watching, and do they compare to something on TV today? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.orgFull Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
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