The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 29, 1999 - 9
casts delectable spells
By Aaron Rich Francisco is that you get the best of all
Daily Arcs Writer worlds. Not only are these people beau-
There remain a few simple pleasures tiful, rich and intelligent (well, sort of),
on Earth. Singing "Billie Jean" falsetto but they also have the highly-sought-
~kc hi rhl n thf licta dnA xn-h- nft n r toc nall ert f a-
Courtesy of uverty
rooks as we all used to know him. Who is this Chris Gaines guy?
eirdo Btoo unvel alter-ego
ranK s g yii on ne nst, as goes watch-
ing those rambunctious kids from the
'hood of Beverly Hills. But, alas, the
TV gods have foretold of the passing to
the "90210" eraat
the end of this
season. This is a
indeed, but thanks
others, we are not
Tomorrow at 9 p.m. left alone late at
about lost beauty
-- and bitter
. "Ch ar m ed,"
beginning its sec-
ond season, will
ultimately take the torch from Southern
Cal and continue pursuing issues
important to only a very few (those
people don't actually exist). It's a good
thing that the producers are finally fes-
sing up and respecting the over-looked
minority that is witches.
The best part about a story revolving
around a coven of witches living in San
arter powers io stop an sorts or War-
locks, demons and terrestrial baddies
they encounter. And this is not even a
Darren Star creation.
This season's premiere episode finds
the three Halliwell sisters at the autum-
nal equinox, which is also their one-
year anniversary of becoming witches.
The super-demon, Abraxas (who
lives on the "aerial plane," by the way),
steals their "Book of Shadows," the
tome in which they find all their spells.
(In witch-dom, this is really bad - it's
like Donna Martin having all her credit
cards taken away). The triumvirate must
join together, get in touch with their
inner-witches and remember all the
spells they've ever used to fight all the
bad guys that are thrown at them.
More than fighting demons, this
show represents a renaissance of two of
the most beautiful TV actresses in
recent memory. Shannen Doherty and
Alyssa Milano make this show entirely
watchable. Nobody really cares about
wicca -- that is, the teens that watch
this show is directed couldn't tell you
what the word means.
But tits and asses aside, the two
Los Angeles Times
*get the feeling that Garth Brooks
too much time on his hands?
ou might think so after hearing his
st album or watching his NBC spe-
on Wednesday night.
t's not enough that the country music
has already sold more albums in the
ited States than any other solo artist in
ory. He now wants to be a pop-rock
rooks has such a loyal country fan
- t the new album, "Garth Brooks
e Life of Chris Gaines," will
oubtedly add millions to the singer's
but a lot of people are going to be
ing their heads after they hear this
ust what is going on here?
In the album, which was to be
eased Tuesday by Capitol Records,
ooks assumes the role of a fictional
p-r ck star, Chris Gaines, and he sings
t of songs in various styles that
e been popular over the last two
des, from R&B to rock.
The excuse for all this is that Brooks
ll play the doomed pop star Gaines in
he Lamb," a yet-to-be-made movie
t is scheduled to be released late next
The album is a way to introduce us to
character before we actually see him
the screen; it's an imaginary "greatest
s'llection from Gaines.
But the suspicion is that Brooks, who
long spoken about his love for such
p-rock acts as Billy Joel and James
ylor; has been dying to make an album
like this for years. And the marketing
genius that lives inside Brooks certainly
knows about the value of widening his
demographics beyond the country field.
About the only crowds Brooks doesn't
go after here are rappers and alt-rockers.
It's a daring step, and he's using the
television special to explain himself. In
fact, the program is akin to an elaborate
electronic press kit - the kind of music-
and-interview video that record compa-
nies send to the media to promote a new
In the hourlong show, Brooks does a
few songs from the album - as himself,
not in the character of Gaines (who looks
as if he goes to the same hairstylist as the
Artist Formerly Known as Prince).
He also offers a few words - a lot of
words, actually - of explanation about
the project. Brooks tells us he can under-
stand how some die-hard Garth fans are
going to pass on this music, and he for-
gives them. "If they choose to sit this one
out, I can't complain," he says. "We've
had a wonderful decade thanks to them
and God, and hopefully there is some-
thing we can bring them in the future that
we can dance again to."
But Brooks is also quick to urge
everyone to stick around. After all, he
says excitedly, there's an awful lot of
Garth in Chris.
That may be so, but there's also an
awful lot of almost every other best-sell-
ing male artist of the last 15 years in
Chris as well, andthat's the problem with
the music. Gaines may prove to be one
fascinating dude on film, but he's a pret-
ty dull one on record.
Brooks (as Gaines) may be saluting a
lot of strong pop-rock visions in these
songs, but he doesn't have any strong
point of view himself.
There's one song in roughly the biting
country-rock style of the Eagles, one in
the smooth R&B manner of Babyface
("Lost in You," which is already a pop
Top 10 hit), one with a trace of Motown
funk and a couple that are very Beatles-
Trying to touch all demographic
bases, Brooks-Gaines even has two faux
Dylan songs - one ("Main Street") in
the style of father Bob's "Knockin' on
Heaven's Door" period and one
("Unsigned Letter") that sounds so
much like son Jakob and the Wallflowers.
that it could have been an outtake from
"Bringing Down the Horse."
Brooks has never been a great singer,
but he has become the most successful
figure ever in country music because he
is a remarkable communicator, able to
express the simple, deeply rooted emo-
tions of such songs as "The Dance" and
"Unanswered Prayers" with such
absolute conviction that he touches
country fans the way Bruce Springsteen
touches rock fans.
For all that has been written about the
electricity of Brooks' high-energy, rock-
inspired concerts, the heart of his coun-
try connection rests with the perception
of him as an honest Everyman.
As Gaines, Brooks steps from that
role,sand his limitations have never been
Alyssa Milano bewitches In "Chamed"
imbue each of their characters with a bit
from their previous roles. Doherty's
Prue is still the same bitch that got
Brenda Walsh knocked off the air.
Milano's Phoebe is filled with the light
good-heartedness that was wrapped
into every moment of Samantha Micelli
(Mona was much more scary than the
beasts in this show have ever been...).
Without "Charmed," next year
might have been especially lonely. And
yes, this season is a bit sour for the few
of us still devoted to the swank ZIP
code, but the bitter pill will go down
much easier for all with the help from
this witchy sugar.
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