Charmed was almost always the top requested series on TVShowsOnDVD.com since we launched back in 2001, and we've enjoyed letting fans know when the DVDs are coming out. They clearly sold well, as CBS/Paramount released all 8 seasons between 2005 and 2007. The sets were all bare-bones until Executive Producer Brad Kern persuaded the companies to put bonus material on the final season, though that set lacked the familiar opening theme song to the series. Now you can buy the entire series in 2 different sets, a regular version, and a limited edition deluxe version. The content of each set is the same, but the packaging is very different; both sets have pros and cons to them, so my job is to help you decide which is best for your needs.
The regular set comes in a large replica of the "Book of Shadows," though it's smaller than the actual book, but much larger than a standard DVD set (see photo below), and likely won't fit on one of your DVD shelves. It's an attractive package that is made up of regular paper pages with illustrations and episode descriptions. The pages of the book have ragged edges, and the discs slip into a slit made in cardboard, with 2 discs on each page. While I was concerned the discs would be scratched by sliding into the cardboard, it's actually another problem altogether. The cardboard pages are made from two pages stuck together, with the top page being glued to the bottom page. I found 10 of my discs in the 49 disc set were actually glued into the slit, and I had to wiggle them free. This resulted in dried glue being left on the disc, and while I could pick most of it off, there was still some residue left behind. I think 2 or 3 of the discs had minor scratches on them, which was pretty good compared to some of the other complete series sets I've reviewed recently.
The other set is a limited deluxe edition, and is a HUGE set housed in a replica of the "Book of Shadows." The set looks beautiful, but it's massive (see photo below), and is 2 regular DVD cases high, and more than 2 wide. I have no idea where I'm going to put this because it certainly won't fit on my DVD shelf, and may not even fit on my bookshelf. Unlike the regular edition which only has 2 discs per page, the deluxe edition has 6 discs per "page." Each disc page is extremely thick cardboard, and the discs are held in place with a rubber hub, making it easy to remove and replace the discs when you want to view them. It's nice because the discs shouldn't get scratched because you aren't sliding them in and out of a sleeve, and there isn't the glue to deal with. So, given what I just said you wouldn't expect to find any scratched discs, right? WRONG! Roughly 60-70% of my discs were covered in circular scratches! Something in the production process has seriously messed up these discs, and CBS/Paramount is going to have a lot of angry customers when they discover their discs are all scratched up, especially since this is an expensive set (list price of roughly $340), and the design of the packaging should have prevented scratches of any kind. It's also impossible for the discs to spin on the rubber spindle, so these scratches must have occurred before they placed in the set. You can see the scratches in the photo below.
The Charmed sets, with season 1 as a comparison of the sizes
Glue on my discs - yes, that glob is glue. Look for lines of it as well.
Scratches on the Limited Deluxe Edition discs
All 173 episodes of the 8-season series are available in each of the 49 disc sets. Each of the discs is identical to the previously-released discs in the season set, so season 8 still contains the bonus material, and the replacement theme song. There's also a bonus disc with material every Charmed fan will enjoy. Due to the construction of the limited edition set, the bonus disc has been placed in a sleeve and glued to the back cover of the set. The disc is so tight in the sleeve that I was unable to get it free without wrecking the sleeve. Turning it upside down and shaking wouldn't work, and I couldn't get ahold of the disc to pull it out with my fingers. I attempted to get it out using tweezers, but they kept slipping off the disc. That thing is stuck in there for good! I was able to watch the bonus disc in the regular set, and here's what's on it:
Unaired Pilot (32:30)
The infamous unaired pilot for the show featuring Lori Rom as Phoebe.
The Demos of Charmed (12:22)
The show featured tons of demons, and this is a look back at them.
Charmed Effects (10:30)
Special effects played a big role in the series, and the cast and crew discuss some of the visual and practical effects.
The Men of Charmed (13:32)
The cast and crew discuss the many men of the series.
The Book of Shadows (14:41)
Exactly what is the Book of Shadows? Watch this featurette to find out.
The Power of Three (16:25)
The Power of Three played an important role in the series; the cast and crew discuss the three sisters (or four...).
Directing Charmed (14:00)
A look at a few memorable episodes from the series which provided a problem or two for the production crew.
The Making of a Monster (8:54)
Welcome to Optic Nerve, the special effects shop that makes monster prosthetics for the show.
To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?
Both these sets have their fair share of problems; the regular set has discs that could be scratched by the packaging, and some which are damaged by the glue, while the limited edition set has circular scratches on many of the discs, and a bonus disc which may be impossible to view. The content on the bonus discs is good, but the prices of the sets (roughly $175-$195 for the regular set, and somewhere around $230 for the limited edition) are very high for sets with so many problems. You also have to contend with the immense size of the limited edition set if you choose to go that route.
I'd advise anyone considering purchasing these sets to wait a week or two to hear what others have to say about the condition of their discs. Maybe I got "lucky" and received two problem sets, or maybe there's an issue with the entire runs of both sets. I've already let CBS know about the issues with the sets, and sent them the photos above, and I'll change this review to reflect any updates on the production issues.
Normally I end the review with a shot of the set on my DVD shelf, but neither of them fit on my shelves.
Update 11/18: I've spoken to CBS, and they've checked their sets and couldn't find glue on the discs in the regular edition, or scratches on the limited edition. I'm waiting to hear back from someone at Paramount - they're looking into the issue as well.
Update 11/20: I've received a number of reports from people who had scratches on their Limited Edition set. If you bought this set please let me know if your discs were scratched, or if they were fine.
Update 11/25: Customers with discs that won't play can contact 800-728-8564 and their discs will be replaced. This number works in Canada and the US.