tek's rating: ½

W.I.T.C.H., on France 3 (France) / Toon Disney (USA)
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Caution: spoilers!

The show, which was made in France, is based on Italian comic books, which I've never read, though I might like to, someday. (I gather there are several differences between the books and the show.) The title comes from the initials of these five teenage girls: Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia, and Hay Lin (all of whom we kinda like; especially Will and Hay Lin). As is pointed out in at least one episode, they're not actually witches, in spite of their initials- and their powers. Which I'll get to momentarily.... Anyway, I think the show has some slightly lame lines occasionally (especially in the early part of the first season), but mostly I think it's fairly fun and interesting and somewhat amusing, and just gets better and better as the story progresses. Oh, also, I like the theme song. Though the artist who performed it changed partway through the first season, for some reason. I seem to recall preferring the original version, but now, I'm not sure I even recall what it sounded like. In fact I'm not convinced that they haven't switched back. Whatever, I like the current version. Not that any of this is important....

The series begins with Hay Lin's grandmother, Yan Lin, explaining some things to Hay Lin and her friends. Yan Lin was one of a group of "Guardians of the Veil," who each had their own elemental power. Now there is to be a new generation of Guardians. Hay Lin has power over air; she and her friends Irma Lair (water), Taranee Cook (fire), and Cornelia Hale (earth), are joined by Will Vandom, who's just moved to Heatherfield, where they all attend the Sheffield Institute. Will doesn't seem to have a power of her own, at least not an elemental one. Hay Lin's grandmother gives her a pendant called the Heart of Candracar (or Kandrakhar), which she can use to transform all five of them. Their natural powers are greatly enhanced, and they can fly (because they get wings), and they get costumes, of course (viva la henshin sequence, baby). It should also be noted that when they transform, they appear to get a bit older. Normally they're all about 13, and I guess in their Guardian forms, they appear to be in their late teens. They get taller (which I generally have trouble noticing, unless they're standing right next to someone when they change), and, as is occasionally pointed out, more... um, developed. (Though not excessively so, and it's another thing I don't find greatly noticeable, since it's not like they're completely lacking in development in their normal forms.) Whatever, this also isn't important....

Another purpose to which Will can put the Heart is to close portals between our world and another one, called Meridian. There's an evil prince there named Phobos, who controls Meridian, but there's a rebellion against him, too, led by a teenage boy named Caleb. He will come to spend some time in our world, but frequently returns to Meridian, with the help of this weird little creature called a Passling, named Blunk, who is a smuggler, and who can sense the location of portals. Of course, Caleb also works together with the Guardians alot (and he and Cornelia eventually start dating). There's also a boy named Matt Olsen, who's in a band, and who Will eventually starts dating. And he gives her a dormouse named Mr. Huggles.

Anyway, Phobos has various servants, the main one being a guy named Cedric, who can turn into a sort of giant snake thing. He searches for Phobos's long-lost sister, the true heir to the throne of Meridian, who was taken to our world as a baby to protect her, and she doesn't even know who she truly is. Phobos wishes to absorb her powers. Eventually Cedric discovers her to be Elyon Brown (who I reckon we also kinda like), who happens, coincidentally enough, to be Cornelia's best friend. He takes her to Meridian, where she's tricked into believing Phobos is good, and the Guardians (and the rebellion) are evil.

At the end of the first season, Phobos is defeated, and he and his minions are imprisoned, and Elyon becomes queen of Meridian. Which brings us to season 2, in which I feel I should mention each of the 26 episodes is named for a letter of the alphabet. Now that Phobos is no longer a threat, the Council of Candracar dropped the Veil that kept Meridian separated from other worlds. This meant there were no more portals, but using the Heart of Candracar, the Guardians could "fold" between worlds. And Blunk was given the Tooth of Tonga, which allows him to fold, as well. Another effect of the Veil dropping is that each of the Guardians gains a new power. Will could now use lightning, and also inanimate objects start talking to her. Irma gained the power to influence the thoughts of others. Taranee gained the capacity to link the Guardians in telepathic communication. Cornelia gained telekinesis. Hay Lin gained the power of invisibility.

But, all is not well. There's a new villain this season, an old witch named Nerissa, who gathers some of Phobos' defeated minions to form the Knights of Vengeance, who will pose a new threat to the Guardians. For awhile, anyway. Oh, and Caleb begins training Matt as a warrior, since he wants to be more actively involved in that part of Will's life. Well... Nerissa is clearly powerful, and one of her most useful powers is the glamour... to change her appearance. This... is far more devastating than you might think. It is responsible for a number of shocking surprises she uses to increase her own power, including acquiring the Heart of Meridian (Elyon). Using this new power, she creates the Knights of Destruction (the Vengeance Knights are of no further use to her, now). The most important of these is called Shagon, who she creates from Matt. He'll gain power from hatred. Another, Khor, she creates from Mr. Huggles, who will feed on anger. The other two knights are Tridart, who feeds on fear, and Ember, who feeds on despair. Those two, at least, weren't created from living beings. But all four will be forced to serve her, and fight the Guardians. Also, Shagon will appear to be glamoured as Matt, and attend Sheffield to watch the Guardians, though for some time Will hates him because she doesn't know he really is Matt, who's been missing recently....

Well, eventually Matt will fight to regain control of himself, yet still retain the ability to transform into Shagon. Mr. Huggles will also return to his own dormouse self, but by this point Nerissa will never no further need for the Knights of Destruction. I tell you, throughout the season, she keeps unveiling shocking revelations to her enemies, I don't even want to spoil all of them. Especially the most disturbing one, which involves Caleb.... But I will say, and I had guessed this well before it was revealed, anyway, though it was at least shocking to the Guardians, that she was one of the former Guardians. And her power was Quintessence, the fifth element. It's interesting to me to note that in the first season, during the henshin sequence, each Guardian said the name of her element as she transformed, but you really couldn't quite make out what it was that Will said. However, in season 2, it appears to have been rerecorded, because it was quite clear that she said "the heart." But that wouldn't last. Once Nerissa's true identity and power were understood, Will started saying "Quintessence" during the her transformation. Anyway... Nerissa manages to acquire the Heart of Zamballa, a world of intelligent trees, protected by Kadma, the former Guardian of earth. Nerissa managed to get Kadma on her side, as she had already done with the spirit of Cassidy, the spirit of the deceased former Guardian of water. She also gained control of Halinor, a member of the Council of Candracar and former Guardian of fire. She even managed to gain control of Yan Lin, former Guardian of air. When all five former Guardians were assembled, she gave them all the appearance of their youth (so we kinda liked them all, even Nerissa).

I should mention that while all the drama of fighting Nerissa and whatever minions she's working with at any given time is going on, as always, the Guardians have stuff going on in their regular lives. Irma becomes host of the Sheffield Institute's radio station, and uses the handle "Lair on the Air." And some of the girls have crushes to guys, and there's always family stuff going on. Sometimes this intersects with Guardian business, such as Hay Lin's grandmother being taken over by Nerissa. And Cornelia's little sister, Lilian, turns out to have some witchy powers of her own, and Lilian's cat, Napoleon, turns out to be her familiar. Though it is decided that Lilian should not be made aware of any of this until she's old enough to really understand and handle her powers properly. Meanwhile, Matt, Mr. Huggles, and Napoleon are made her regents.

Meanwhile, in the fight against Nerissa, the Guardians decide to take the shockingly ill-conceived action of releasing Phobos, who, as an heir to the throne of Meridian, is the only one who should be capable of taking the Heart of Meridian- which is now part of the Seal of Nerissa, containing her own power as well as the Hearts of Meridian and Zamballa- away from Nerissa without permission. He also convinces them to release Cedric and another of his servants, Miranda (a girl who posed as a friend to Elyon in season 1, and who can turn into a giant spider). And... well, Phobos betrays the Guardians, of course. But things get more complicated than that. I don't want to give anything more away, except to say that, of course, the good guys win in the end. Quite cleverly.

And that's all I can say for now. It seems like I've said too much already, but trust me... I've left a bit out. It never ceases to surprise me just how much Nerissa can... well, surprise me. Not just Nerissa, but man, in season 2, just about every episode surprised me, in various ways. It was awesome. And the last episode seemed to set up a possible new plotline for a third season, but at this point I don't know that another season will ever be made. I really wish it would, though.....

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