Monday, November 20, 2006

Forgotten TV Shows: The Charmings

Created by Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser (the same people who would eventually bring The Nanny to life) The Charmings covered this what if scenario: What if back in the storybook days, Prince Charming (Christopher Rich) married Snow White (Caitlin O'Heaney), and before they had a chance to live happily ever after, Snow's wicked stepmother, the evil queen, (Judy Parfitt) put a curse on them to make them sleep a thousand years - and accidentally hit herself and one of the dwarves in the process. They all woke up in the 1980's and moved to suburbia.

Admittedly this was a silly concept for a TV show but as one of this kids who loved fantasy movies and fairy tales I made an instant connection to it. The cast was also great, a young Christopher Rich (currently on the CW's Reba Sunday's at 6:00, watch it, it's good) as Prince Eric Charming, Judy Parfitt as the antagonistic stepmother Lilian, and a wonderfully disparaging Paul Winfield as the magic mirror.

Season 1 Opening:

A great mirror, mirror gag:

The Charmings also had some great guest appearances from the likes of Bernie Kopel (Doc, from Love Boat) who appeared as get this... a doctor... making a house call. On the way out, he notices Prince Charming watching The Love Boat on TV. So Doc stops and says, "Oh, the Love Boat. Sheesh. Grown men in knee-socks, how ridiculous."

A fun play on the old poisoned apple:

The ratings of the first season were less then spectacular so in the second season production was handed over to a new team and some changes were made to the show including a new opening and Caitlin O'Heaney who played Snow White in the first season as a sexy, bubbly, ditz was replaced by the more down to earth Carol Huston. Huston who I've seen on other shows, is normally a reliable but not an outstanding actress and many fans felt she was not right for the role.

Caitlin O'Heaney Snow White Number 1

Carol Huston Snow White Number 2

Season 2 Opening:

Never an overly popular show with TV audiences, half way through the second season ABC moved it up against The Cosby Show a ratings giant, it never had a chance. They advertised the move with one of those silly ads where the characters comment on their own show. Only in this ad, the silliness was dead serious. The queen stepmother, Lillian announces proudly: "Guess What? I've used my magic to move our show to a new day & time!" After she announces the new time slot, Prince Charming angrily yells, "Lillian! That's opposite The Cosby's!" Probably the one of the first times in the history of television where an ad for a TV show was also a complaint about the network it was on.

There are some conspiracy theories out there that Disney threatened to sue over the use of the Snow White character and the concept of the show feeling it borrowed a little too heavily from their 1937 animated movie and ABC killed the show as a quick way out of the situation. This does however only seem like a consiparcy theory.

ABC canceled the show in 1988 and prempted the final episode, as far as I am aware it has never been seen.

And now a classic episode of The Charmings; The Witch of Van Oaks:

part 2:

part 3:

This show has never been available on video or DVD, frankly I'm not sure it's ever been rerun though it is available for syndication. As one of my favorites as a kid I would love to have this as part of my DVD collection, please release it!


Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember it!
Glad someone else does, too.

"Oh, the F-word!"

Do you remember "Small Wonder" , about the little girl robot?

Becca said...

"Fiddlesticks!" ...priceless.

And yes I remember Small Wonder with Vicki the robot and that poor lisping kid. Maybe I'll have to post about it later.

Anonymous said...

That's so odd when I was watching this I instantly thought of Small Wonder.

Anyone remember: Metal Mickey, Automan or Manimal?

Becca said...

I remember Automan and Manimal but what was Metal Mickey?

Man I can't belive so many of us remember Small Wonder!

Anonymous said...

I remember Manimal!
In the late 90's I think I watched the entire run when Sc-Fi Channel re-ran it.

Anonymous said...

Just in case you haven't heard...they do have this series on DVD - you can buy it here:

Becca said...

Thanks for the info but I can find almost nothing positive written about DVD Avenue online. Seems most people get their money ripped off, poor quality items, duplicate discs and get no response from DVD Avenue to fix their problem.

Hopefully someday this great show will get an official release, until then sigh...

Anonymous said...

I love this series...I have all the episodes including the unaired one on VHS through a tape trader years ago. Whil I've never confirmed it, I've heard it was rerun on the A HA! network before it became Comedy Central inthe early 90's, and on Family Channel in the early 90's as well. And summer reruns in local markets were also happing back when it was airing or had just finished.

I made a charmings facebook page, anyone would like to check it out sometime that would be great.