Bewitched

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This article is about the American television sitcom. For other uses, see Bewitched (disambiguation).
Bewitched
Bewitched color title card.jpg
Genre Fantasy sitcom
Created by Sol Saks
Written by Various[nb 1]
Directed by William Asher (most episodes)[nb 1]
Starring Elizabeth Montgomery
Dick York (1964–1969)
Dick Sargent (1969–1972)
Agnes Moorehead
David White
Theme music composer Howard Greenfield
Jack Keller
Composer(s) Warren Barker (most episodes)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 254 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Harry Ackerman
Producer(s) Danny Arnold (17 episodes, first season)
Jerry Davis (most episodes, first and second seasons)
William Froug (third season)
William Asher (remainder of show)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25 mins.
Production company(s) Screen Gems
Ashmont Productions (1971–1972)
Distributor Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Black-and-white (1964–1966)
Color (1966–1972)
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 17, 1964 (1964-09-17) – March 25, 1972 (1972-03-25)
Chronology
Followed by Tabitha

Bewitched is an American TV situation comedy fantasy that was originally broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1972. It was created by Sol Saks under executive director Harry Ackerman, and starred actress Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York (1964–1969), Dick Sargent (1969–1972), Agnes Moorehead, and David White. The show is about a witch who marries an ordinary mortal man and tries to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife. Bewitched enjoyed great popularity, finishing as the number two show in America during its debut season, and becoming the longest-running supernatural-themed sitcom of the 1960s–1970s. The show continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and on recorded media.

In 2002, Bewitched was ranked #50 on "TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time".[1] In 1997, the same magazine ranked the season 2 episode "Divided He Falls" #48 on their list of the "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time".[2]

Premise and characters[edit]

Plot summary[edit]

Dick York, Elizabeth Montgomery (front) and Agnes Moorehead (back) as Darrin, Samantha and Endora

A young-looking witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) meets and marries a mortal named Darrin Stephens (originally Dick York, later Dick Sargent). While Samantha pledges to forsake her powers and become a typical suburban housewife, her magical family disapproves of the mixed marriage and frequently interferes in the couple's lives. Episodes often begin with Darrin becoming the victim of a spell, the effects of which wreak havoc with mortals such as his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors. By the epilogue, however, Darrin and Samantha most often embrace, having overcome the devious elements that failed to separate them.

The witches and their male counterparts, known as "warlocks", are very long-lived; while Samantha appears to be a young woman, many episodes suggest she is actually hundreds of years old. To keep their society secret, witches avoid showing their powers in front of mortals other than Darrin. Nevertheless, the effects of their spells and Samantha's attempts to hide their supernatural origin from mortals drive the plot of most episodes. Witches and warlocks usually use physical gestures along with their magical spells, and sometimes spoken incantations. Most notably, Samantha often twitches her nose to perform a spell. Modest but effective special visual effects are accompanied by music to highlight the magic.

Setting[edit]

The main setting for most scenes is the Stephens' house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle. Many scenes also take place at the Madison Avenue advertising agency "McMann and Tate" for which Darrin works. The Stephens' home is located in a nearby upper-middle-class suburban neighborhood, either in Westport, Connecticut or Patterson, New York as indicated by conflicting information presented throughout the series. One episode contained the Mills Garage in Patterson, as a neighbor's son's soap box derby car sponsor.[3] Elizabeth Montgomery owned a second home in Patterson.

Characters[edit]

Agnes Moorehead as Endora

Samantha's mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead), is the chief antagonist. Like all witches, she never reveals her surname, indicating to Darrin that he would be unable to pronounce it. Endora loathes mortals, and disapproves of Darrin, as do many of Samantha's relatives. Endora refuses to even use Darrin's name, alternatively calling him "Durwood", "What's-his-name", "Darwin", "Dum-Dum", etc., all much to his annoyance. She refers to him as "Darrin" only eight times during the entire series.[4] Endora's ploys to provoke a breakup always fail as Samantha and Darrin's love overcomes every obstacle. Even though Endora casts countless farcical spells on Darrin, she never attempts to destroy him outright. In the first season episode "Just One Happy Family", Samatha's father Maurice (Maurice Evans) learns that his daughter has married a mortal and in a furious rage, makes Darrin disappear. Samantha pleads with him to send Darrin back at which Endora says, "Oh Maurice. I'm not overly fond of that boy either but I'm not going to have a human being on my conscience, now you bring him back." When Maurice refuses, Endora threatens him by saying , "You bring him back or I'll make your life miserable for you and you know I can do it...I'll move in with you." Maurice, intimidated by Endora, but also touched by his daughter's love for her husband, quickly relents and Darrin is brought back to Samantha. There is one episode in Season 2 ("And Then There Were Three") where Endora and Darrin have a tender scene together. In that installment, Samantha gives birth to Tabitha. When Endora visits Darrin in the waiting room of the hospital and tells him he is the father of a baby girl, both Darrin and Endora start to cry and embrace each other. Endora then conjures up two handkerchiefs so she and Darrin can both wipe their eyes. In season 7, when High Priestess Hephzibah expresses surprise that Darrin has withstood years of harassment, Endora can only shrug and admit, "He loves my daughter."

Darrin works as an executive at the McMann and Tate advertising agency. His profit-obsessed boss Larry Tate (David White) is a regular character, but Tate's partner, Mr. McMann, appears only twice during the series. Tate's opinions turn on a dime to appease a client in an attempt to land a deal. However, there are two episodes that show evidence that Larry has deep feelings as well as having a sense of integrity. In the first season installment, "And Something Makes Three", Larry realizes he is to become a father for the first time and is almost overcome with joyful emotion. In the seventh season Christmas episode "Sisters At Heart", Larry threatens to cancel an important client's account with McMann & Tate when he realizes the client is a racist. Many plots involve Endora casting a spell on Darrin in order to exaggerate one of his mortal qualities or weaknesses. The "bewitched" Darrin, ignorant of the spell, then embarrasses his boss and/or his family. Many episodes culminate in a dinner party with clients at the Stephens' home that is humorously affected by magic. Samantha usually figures out a clever way to save the day and the account. Louise Tate (Irene Vernon, Kasey Rogers), Larry's wife, eventually becomes Samantha's closest mortal friend.

Across the street from Darrin and Samantha lives a retired couple, the nosy and tactless Gladys Kravitz (Alice Pearce, Sandra Gould) and her husband Abner (George Tobias). Gladys' snooping often results in her witnessing witchcraft or its strange side effects. She frequently tries to prove Samantha is a witch, only to fail and be branded delusional by Abner.

Darrin and Samantha in the 1968 episode, "To Twitch Or Not To Twich"

Samantha's father, Maurice, is an urbane thespian much like Elizabeth Montgomery's father, Robert Montgomery. Maurice often embellishes his entrances and exits with strained Shakespearean verse. Bewitched is unique for pre-1970s sitcoms in that it portrays Endora and Maurice in, as Maurice describes, "an informal marriage". Endora once introduces Maurice as "my daughter's father", and twice threatens to "move in" with Maurice. In the episode "Samantha's Good News", Endora threatens to file for an "ectoplasmic interlocutory" (i.e. divorce), only to wrangle Maurice's affection. Maurice also refers to Darrin with incorrect names, including "Duncan" and "Dustbin", with Endora going so far as to "correct" him, saying "that's Durwood."

Darrin's parents, the strait-laced Phyllis (Mabel Albertson) and laid-back Frank Stephens (Robert F. Simon, Roy Roberts), visit occasionally but never learn of Samantha's supernatural powers. Phyllis makes inopportune surprise visits, and often complains of "a sick headache" after accidentally witnessing a spell in motion. She and Endora do not get along but are civil to each other in what Samantha refers to as "killing each other with kindness."

On Samantha's father's side of the family[5] is her far-out, egocentric lookalike cousin Serena. Also played by Elizabeth Montgomery, she is credited as "Pandora Spocks" (a spin on the phrase "Pandora's box") in many of her appearances from 1969 to 1971. Serena is first seen in episode, #54, "And Then There Were Three".[6] Serena is the antithesis of Samantha, in most episodes sporting a beauty mark on her cheek, raven-black cropped hair and mod mini-skirts. Ever mischievous, Serena often flirts with Larry Tate (calling the white-haired Tate "Cotton-Top"), just for sport. More progressive than most witches or warlocks, Samantha's counterculture cousin occasionally dates mortals, including characters played by Jack Cassidy and Peter Lawford. Despite her wild behavior and frequent co-plotting with Endora, Serena often supports Samantha and Darrin, even though she finds them both a bit "square."

Samantha and Uncle Arthur in the 1968 episode, "No Harm Charm"

Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde), Endora's prank-loving brother, makes several appearances. Despite many practical jokes at Darrin's expense, Uncle Arthur has a less antagonistic relationship with him than Endora. In one episode, both Serena and Uncle Arthur go head-to-head with the Witches Council to support the Stephens' union, only to have their own powers suspended.

The only one of Samantha's relatives for whom Darrin regularly shows tolerance is the bumbling, elderly, absent-minded-but-lovable Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne). Though well-intentioned, Clara's spells usually backfire, and her entrances and exits are often a grand fumble, such as entering via a chimney or colliding with a wall. She has a collection of over a thousand doorknobs (inspired by Lorne's real-life collection).[7] Rather than recast the role after Lorne's death in 1968, a similar witch, the anxiety-ridden and magically inept housekeeper Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley), was introduced in 1969.

In the second season, Samantha gives birth to a daughter, Tabitha (spelled Tabatha in production credits until season 5) and later in the series has a son, Adam. Both eventually prove to have supernatural powers. The Tates' son Jonathan is born several months before Tabitha.

A strange occurrence or condition caused by a supernatural illness is occasionally used as a plot device, and assistance is often sought from the warlock Dr. Bombay (Bernard Fox), a womanizer who is often accompanied by a buxom assistant, and who constantly cracks bad jokes. He could be summoned by the phrase, "Dr. Bombay, calling Dr. Bombay. Emergency, come right away." His first name, "Hubert", was revealed in the final episode of the spinoff Tabitha. Help for supernatural illnesses is also occasionally sought from the unnamed witches’ apothecary (Bernie Kopell), an amorous old warlock.

Other recurring characters[edit]

  • Aunt Enchantra and Aunt Hagatha are Samantha's aunts. They occasionally ride in an antique car called "Macbeth" (sometimes driven by chauffeur Rasputin, other times operating sans driver) which enters the Stephens' home through the wall. Enchantra was played by three different actresses, while Hagatha was played by five, including Reta Shaw and Ysabel MacCloskey. Hagatha sometimes babysits the children.
  • The "drunk guy" (Dick Wilson) shows up in various bars, jail cells and sidewalks to witness acts of witchcraft in sixteen episodes.
  • Dave, Darrin's friend (Gene Blakely) who takes part in an seven-episode running gag in which he and Darrin meet at a bar and are oblivious to each other's conversations. In one appearance, the gag is omitted and he is a councilman for Morning Glory Circle.
  • Betty, the secretary at McMann and Tate, was played by various actresses, including Jill Foster (ten appearances) and Marcia Wallace.[8]
  • The Apothecary (Bernie Kopell) appears in four episodes as a purveyor of potions and magical ingredients to the show's society of witches.
  • Sheila Sommers (Nancy Kovack) is Darrin's wealthy former fiancée and Samantha's nemesis. Twice in the series (in the premiere episode, "I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha" and in "Snob in the Grass") she tries to seduce Darrin, only to be stopped by Samantha's powers. The character also appears in the 1968 episode "If They Never Met."
  • Charlie Leach (Robert Strauss) A private investigator who attempts to blackmail Samantha, with disastrous results, in "Follow that Witch" and "Catnapped".
  • Howard McMann is Larry Tate's business partner, played by Roland Winters in "Man of the Year" (139) and Leon Ames in "What Makes Darrin Run" (191).
  • Miss Peabody, Tabitha's teacher (Maudie Prickett), appears in two episodes during Season 8: "Tabitha's First Day of School" and "School Days, School Daze".

Historical, fictional, and contemporary characters[edit]

Thanks to witchcraft, a number of interesting characters were seen, including Benjamin Franklin, Franklin Pierce, George and Martha Washington, Paul Revere, Sigmund Freud, Julius Caesar, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, King Henry VIII, Cleopatra, Bonanno Pisano, Santa Claus, Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk, Mother Goose, The Artful Dodger, Hansel and Gretel, The Tooth Fairy, the Loch Ness Monster, a leprechaun, Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, Willie Mays (playing himself), and Boyce and Hart (playing themselves).

Cast[edit]

Cast of Characters
Character Actor(s) No. of episodes
Main Characters
Samantha Stephens Elizabeth Montgomery 254
Darrin Stephens Dick York (1964–1969)
Dick Sargent (1969–1972)
156 (York)
84 (Sargent)
Endora Agnes Moorehead 147
Larry Tate David White 166
Recurring Characters
Tabitha Stephens Cynthia Black (1966)
Heidi and Laura Gentry (1966)
Tamar and Julie Young (1966)
Diane Murphy (1966–1968)
Erin Murphy (1966–1972)
116
Gladys Kravitz Alice Pearce (1964–1966)
Sandra Gould (1966–1971)
30 (Pearce)
27 (Gould)
Abner Kravitz George Tobias (1964–1971) 55
Louise Tate Irene Vernon (1964–1966)
Kasey Rogers (1966–1972)
13 (Vernon)
33 (Rogers)
Aunt Clara Marion Lorne (1964–1968) 28
Serena Elizabeth Montgomery (1966–1972)
(credited as "Pandora Spocks")
24
Adam Stephens unknown (1969–1970)
Greg and David Lawrence (1970–1972)
24
Phyllis Stephens Mabel Albertson (1964–1971) 19
Dr. Bombay Bernard Fox (1967–1972) 18
Esmeralda Alice Ghostley (1969–1972) 15
Frank Stephens Robert F. Simon (1964–67, 1971)
Roy Roberts (1967–1970)
13
Maurice Maurice Evans 12
Uncle Arthur Paul Lynde (1965–1971) 10

The series is noted for having a number of major cast changes, often because of illness or death of the actors. Most notably, the actor playing Darrin was quietly replaced mid-series. As of 2014, the only surviving members of the regular cast are Bernard Fox and the actors who played the Stephens children. The various changes during the series and untimely deaths of several of the regular actors in the decades following its cancellation produced a mythology that the series was cursed. However, a study of the average age of death of the actors, many of whom were already past middle age during the show's production, reveals no unusual pattern.[9]

Dick York was unable to continue his role as Darrin because of a severe back condition, the result of an accident during the filming of They Came To Cordura in 1959. Starting with the third season, York's disability caused ongoing shooting delays and script rewrites. After collapsing while filming the episode "Daddy Does His Thing" and being rushed to the hospital in January 1969, York left the show. Dick Sargent, who would go on to play Darrin in the sixth through eighth seasons, was cast for the role that same month.[10]

Marion Lorne appeared in 28 episodes as Aunt Clara and won a posthumous Emmy Award in 1968. Essentially replacing this character was the similarly magic-disabled Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley) in season 6. Lorne and Ghostley had appeared side by side in the hotel scene of Mike Nichols's film The Graduate in 1967.

Also winning a posthumous Emmy award in 1966 for her role, Alice Pearce was the first to play the character of Gladys Kravitz. After Pearce's death from ovarian cancer, Mary Grace Canfield played Harriet Kravitz, Abner's sister, in four episodes during the spring of 1966, and is said to be keeping house while Gladys is out of town. Sandra Gould assumed the role of Gladys Kravitz beginning in season 3.

Louise Tate was played by Irene Vernon during the first two seasons and then replaced by Kasey Rogers, who wore a short black wig to appear similar to Vernon. According to Rogers,[11] Bill Asher noticed her tugging at the wig and asked why she was wearing it. She laughed and said, "because you told me to." He replied, "Why don't you take it off!" and she played Louise with red hair for the show's final three seasons.

Tabitha Stephens' birth in the season 2 episode "And Then There Were Three" featured infant Cynthia Black in the role. For the remainder of the season, Tabitha was played by twins Heidi and Laura Gentry, followed by twins Tamar and Julie Young. Fraternal twin toddlers Diane Murphy and Erin Murphy were cast for the role at the beginning of season 3. In time, they began to look less alike, so Diane was dropped during season 4. Diane made several guest appearances in other roles, and filled in as Tabatha one last time in season 5's "Samantha Fights City Hall", because Erin had the mumps.

Before being cast as magical regulars, Alice Ghostley (Esmeralda), Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur), and Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay) all had guest roles during the first two seasons as mortal characters in the respective episodes, "Maid to Order", "Driving Is the Only Way to Fly", and "Disappearing Samantha".

Precursors[edit]

Dick Sargent, Elizabeth Montgomery, Erin Murphy and David Lawrence during the show's final season

According to Harpie's Bizarre,[12] (a website based on the frequently-depicted "witch magazine" from the series) creator Sol Saks' inspirations for this series in which many similarities can be seen were the 1942 film I Married a Witch (from Thorne Smith's unfinished novel The Passionate Witch), and the John Van Druten Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, which was adapted into a 1958 movie.[13]

In I Married a Witch, Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is a descendant of people who executed witches at Salem witch trials. As a revenge the witch (Veronica Lake) prepares a love potion for him. She ends up consuming her own potion and falling for her enemy. Her father is against this union.[13] In Bell, Book and Candle, modern witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) uses a love spell on Shep Henderson (James Stewart) to have a simple fling with him but genuinely falls for the man. [13]

Production and broadcasting[edit]

Sol Saks, who received credit as the creator of the show, wrote the pilot of Bewitched, although he was not involved with the show after the pilot. Creator Sol Saks, executive producer Harry Ackerman, and director William Asher started filming the pilot on November 22, 1963; it coincided with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Asher felt personally affected by the event as he knew Kennedy,he had produced the 1962 televised birtday party where Marilyn Monroe sung Happy Birthday, Mr. President. But the show had to go on. [14] The pilot concerned "the occult destabilization of the conformist life of an upworldly mobile advertising man". [14]

Initially, Danny Arnold, who helped develop the style and tone of the series as well as some of the supporting characters who did not appear in the pilot, like Larry Tate and the Kravitzes, produced and headed writing of the series. Arnold, who wrote on McHale's Navy and other shows, thought of Bewitched essentially as a romantic comedy about a mixed marriage; his episodes kept the magic element to a minimum. One or two magical acts drove the plot, but Samantha often solved problems without magic. Many of the first season's episodes were allegorical, using supernatural situations as metaphors for the problems any young couple would face. Arnold stated that the two main themes of the series were the conflict between a powerful woman and a husband who cannot deal with that power, and the anger of a bride's mother at seeing her daughter marry beneath her. Though the show was a hit right from the beginning, finishing its first year as the number 2 show in the United States, ABC wanted more magic and more farcical plots, causing battles between Arnold and the network.

The show was the number one show of the American Broadcasting Company and the best rated sitcom among all three networks. It was second in ratings only to Bonanza, a Western family drama by the NBC. [14] Bewitched debuted on 9 p.m Thursday evenings. It was preceded on the air by fellow sitcom My Three Sons and followed by the soap opera Peyton Place. The other sitcom finished 13th on the ratings and the soap opera 9th. Together the three shows formed a block, the strongest ratings grabbers of ABC in the 1964–65 United States network television schedule. [14]

Arnold left the show after the first season, leaving producing duties to his friend Jerry Davis, who had already produced some of the first season's episodes (though Arnold was still supervising the writing). The second season was produced by Davis and with Bernard Slade as head writer, with mistaken identity and farce becoming a more prevalent element, but still included a number of more low-key episodes in which the magic element was not front and center.

With the third season and the switch to color, Davis left the show, and was replaced as producer by William Froug. Slade also left after the second season. According to William Froug's autobiography, William Asher (who had directed many episodes) wanted to take over as producer when Jerry Davis left, but the production company was not yet ready to approve the idea. Froug, a former producer of Gilligan's Island and the last season of The Twilight Zone, was brought in as a compromise. By his own admission, Froug was not very familiar with Bewitched and found himself in the uncomfortable position of being the official producer even though Asher was making most of the creative decisions. After a year, Froug left the show, and Asher took over as full-time producer of the series for the rest of its run.

The first two seasons had aired Thursdays at 9:00, and the time was moved to 8:30 shortly after the third year (1966–1967) had begun. Nevertheless, the ratings for Bewitched remained high and, for the next three years, it consistently placed among the top fifteen shows. It was the 7th highest-rating show in both the 1965–66 United States network television schedule and the 1966–67 United States network television schedule. It was the 11th-highest rating show in both the 1967–68 United States network television schedule and the 1968–69 United States network television schedule. [14] At the time the show won 3 Emmy Awards. William Asher won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in 1966, Alice Pearce won a posthumous Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Gladys Kravitz, and Marion Lorne won the same award posthumously in 1968 for the portrayal of aunt Clara. [14]

By the start of the fifth season, the quality of the series began to suffer as the writers were beginning to rework and recycle scripts from previous years. Also, with the increased absence of Dick York due to his back injury, the writers had to rewrite certain episodes with Samantha and Tabitha on their own while Darrin was "out of town on business". At this time, Elizabeth Montgomery's other character of Serena (Samantha's identical cousin) became more of a recurring character. In early 1969, Montgomery and Asher announced that they were expecting another baby and it was decided that Samantha and Darrin would also have another child in the fall of 1969. Before the end of the fifth season, however, Dick York collapsed on the set and was hospitalized, leaving the show at this point.

Beginning with the sixth season (1969–1970), during the opening credits, Elizabeth Montgomery was billed above the title and David White now received co-starring billing after Agnes Moorehead. During that year, the show saw a significant decline in ratings, falling from 12th to 24th place for the 1969–70 United States network television schedule. The ratings fall coincided with the replacement of Dick York by Dick Sargent, but a stronger competition from the other networks was the likely cause. Since 1967, the series was competing against the NBC crime drama Ironside that was steadily building an audience. Ironside ranked at 16th in 1968 and 15th in 1969. [14] In addition, CBS had its own top 25 shows for 1969. Family Affair came in 5th and The Jim Nabors Hour placed 12th. [14]

For Bewitched's seventh season premiere in the fall of 1970, in order to boost ratings, an eight-part story arc was launched in which Samantha, Darrin, and Endora travel to Salem, Massachusetts for the centennial Witches Convocation. There was a great deal of publicity when, in June 1970, the cast and crew actually traveled to Salem, Magnolia, and Gloucester, Massachusetts. These location shoots marked the only times the show would film away from its Hollywood studio set, which was being rebuilt due to a fire, to shoot exteriors for these episodes. The eight so-called 'Salem Saga' episodes helped the show's sagging ratings.[15] (On June 15, 2005, TV Land unveiled a Samantha statue in Salem to mark the show's 40th anniversary. On hand were three surviving actors from the show, Bernard Fox, Erin Murphy and Kasey Rogers, as well as producer/director William Asher.) However, whatever renewed interest there was in the show after these Salem installments aired, quickly dissipated and viewership continued to dwindle in the seventh season. Scripts from old episodes were also recycled more frequently. By the end of the 1970-1971 season, NBC had built a viewing block out of The Flip Wilson Show, which came 2nd in the ratings and Ironside which placed 4th. As a result, the ratings for Bewitched had fallen and the show did not even rank in the list of the top thirty programs.

For the eighth season, ABC decided to move Bewitched's airtime from Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. to Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. The schedule change did not help ratings as the show was now pitted against CBS's popular The Carol Burnett Show that came 25th in 1971–72 United States network television schedule. Fellow competitor Adam-12 came 8th. [14] The show used fewer recurring characters, with the Kravitzes, Darrin's parents, and Uncle Arthur not appearing in the final (eighth) season at all. Filming for the season ended in December, 1971, and in January, 1972, the show was finally moved to Saturday night at 8:00 P.M., opposite television's number one show, All in the Family, where it fared even worse. Despite its poor showing in the ratings, the show was still contracted for a ninth season. However, Elizabeth Montgomery's marriage to William Asher was in trouble and the couple had separated by the end of the eighth season. As a consolation to ABC, Montgomery and Asher (under their company name Ashmont, which produced Bewitched) offered a half-hour sitcom to the network starring Paul Lynde. As a result, after eight years, Bewitched was canceled and ABC picked up The Paul Lynde Show for the 1972–1973 season. Lynde's series lasted only one year.

Storylines repeated from I Love Lucy[edit]

In the episode "Samantha's Power Failure", Serena's and Uncle Arthur's powers are removed by the Witches' Council. The impotent duo get jobs in a confectionery factory, with both tossing and hiding an onslaught of bananas from a conveyor belt which are to be dipped in chocolate and nuts, then packaged. This episode mimics the famous chocolate assembly-line episode of I Love Lucy ("Job Switching"), which was directed by Bewitched producer/director William Asher. Serena's and Arthur's jokes and physical antics are taken from Lucy's (Lucille Ball) and Ethel's (Vivian Vance) playbook.

In the episode "Samantha's Supermaid" Samantha interviews a maid, and the scene is almost identical to one in Lucy. Season 8 featured a European vacation, but was filmed in Hollywood using stock footage, like the "European" episodes of Lucy. Similar to Endora's refusal to pronounce Darrin's name correctly, Lucy's mother always referred to son-in-law Ricky with incorrect names, including "Mickey", and in a letter once, "what's-his-name".

Timely topics[edit]

Some episodes take a backdoor approach to such topics as racism, as seen in the first season episode, "The Witches Are Out", in which Samantha objects to Darrin's demeaning ad portrayal of witches as ugly and deformed. Such stereotypical imagery often causes Endora and other witches to flee the country until November. In the second season installment, "Trick Or Treat" , Endora, believing Darrin to be prejudiced against witches, turns him into a werewolf. It is only through Samantha convincing her that Darrin was the one mortal who refused to believe that witches were not ugly or evil does Endora relent and take the spell off of him. In a similar episode during the sixth season ("To Trick-Or-Treat or not to Trick-Or-Treat"), feeling that by participating in Halloween customs that Darrin disrespects witches in general, Endora turns him into a stereotypical one. "Sisters at Heart" (season 7), whose story was submitted by a tenth-grade English class, involves Tabitha altering the skin tone of herself and a black friend with coordinating polka-dots so people would treat them equally.[16] In the 1969 episode, "Tabitha's Weekend", when offered homemade cookies by Darrin's mother, Endora asks, "They're not by chance from an Alice B. Toklas recipe?" Phyllis replies, "They're my recipe", to which Endora retorts, "Then I'll pass". Toklas's cookbook was infamous for having a dessert recipe which included hashish.[17]

Sets and locations[edit]

The 1959 Columbia Pictures film Gidget was filmed on location at a real house in Santa Monica (at 267 18th Street). The blueprint design of this house was later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia's Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched. The patio and living room sets seen in Columbia's Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were soon adapted for the permanent Bewitched set for 1964. The interior of the Stephens' house can be seen, substantially unaltered, in the 1969 Jerry Lewis film Hook, Line & Sinker. The set was also used several times in the television series Gidget and I Dream of Jeannie, as well as the 1971 made-for-television movie Brian's Song. It was also used, as a setting for an opening tag sequence, for the final episode of the first season of another Screen Gems property, The Monkees and in an episode of The Fantastic Journey.

The house served as '(Doctor Bellows)' house on "I Dream of Jeannie", and was seen in an episode of "Home Improvement" when Tim Taylor took Tool Time on location the house of Vinnie's mother to repair a gas leak in the furnace in the basement, but unknown to Tim there was also a leak at the stove in the kitchen. A clap on-Clap off lamp turned on when Tim clapped and it blew up. The Stephens house was also featured in a Fruit of the Loom Christmas commercial.

On the Columbia studio backlot, the Kravitzes' house was actually down the street from the Stephens' house exterior. Both house's exterior doors opened to an unfinished eighteen-by-fifteen foot entry, as the interiors were shot elsewhere. From 1964 through 1966 the Kravitzes' house was the same as used for The Donna Reed Show later use was the house (sets) from The Partridge Family.

Production and filming for Bewitched was based in Los Angeles and, although the setting is assumed to be New York, several episodes feature wide-angle exterior views of the Stephens' neighborhood showing a California landscape with mountains in the distance. Another example of questionable continuity regarding the location can be seen in Season 6, Episode 6: Darrin's parents drive home after visiting the new baby, passing several large palm trees lining the street.

Nielsen ratings[edit]

Cultural context[edit]

Feminist Betty Friedan wrote the essay Television and the Feminine Mystique (Febryuary, 1964) where she criticized the way women were portrayed in television. She summarized their depiction as stupid, unattractive, and insecure household drudges. Their time was divided between dreaming of love and plotting revenge on their husbands. Samantha was not depicted this way and Endora used Friedan-like words to criticize the boring drudgery of household life.[13]

In the episode Eat at Mario's (May 27, 1965), Samantha and Endora co-operate in using their witchcraft to defend and promote a quality Italian restaurant. They take delight in an active, aggressive role in the public space. Breaking new ground in the depiction of women in television. [13]

Reception[edit]

Walter Metz attributes the success of the series to its snappy writing, the charm of Elizabeth Montgomery, and the talents of its large supporting cast. The show also made use of respected film techniques for its special effects. The soundtrack was unique, notably where it concerned the synthesized sound of nose twitching. [14]

The first episodes feature a voice-over narrator "performing comic sociological analyses" of the role of a witch in middle class suburbia.The style was reminiscent of Hollywood films such as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) [13]

Impact[edit]

The series inspired rival show I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), that was never a major ratings hit. [14]

In popular culture[edit]

The magical powers of the characters, and the sudden change of actors playing Darrin have been sources of many popular culture references to Bewitched.

  • In an episode of the 1960s sitcom My Favorite Martian, Martin's hands are tied so he is unable to utilize his martian powers with his finger. He instead tries twitching his nose, and when successful states that he had seen that technique on an Earth television program. In the French-dubbed version, he states that he “will send a kiss to Bewitched.”
  • In the episode "Trouble with the Rubbles" of Roseanne, new neighbors move in and Jackie asks Roseanne if she knows anything about them. Roseanne jokingly replies, "Well, okay, the husband, Darrin, he's in advertising, and they have this cute little daughter named Tabitha. But the wife, I don't know, something's wrong with her. I think she's a witch." In the episode "Homecoming", daughter Becky returns home after an extended absence from the series, and has been recast with a new actress (Sarah Chalke). In the epilogue, the Connors are watching Bewitched on television, discussing Darrin being replaced, and Becky muses, "Well, I like the second Darrin much better".[18] In another episode, Roseanne states sarcastically that she tried "twitching [her] nose" to clean up the kitchen, but it didn't work.
  • The principal of the prep school in the supernatural sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place is named Mr. Laritate, an allusion to the Bewitched character Larry Tate.
  • In the Charmed fourth season episode, "Lost and Bound", Phoebe worries about her ability to be a good wife and notes the only married witch she can think of as a model is Samantha Stephens. Subsequently, Cole gives her a ring which causes Phoebe to start behaving like Samantha, wearing her hairdo, spending all her time in the kitchen, while alternating between color and black and white.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Duffless", the advertising agency the feminists are protesting is called "McMahon and Tate Advertising". In a segment of the Halloween episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII", Marge Simpson portrays a witch in old Salem who is living as a mortal with her husband, Homer. When she is discovered and returns to her sister witches, one states, "So, you finally left Durwood." In episode "Mr. Plow", the "McMahon and Tate Advertising Agency" produces a television commercial for "Homer Simpson".
  • In an episode of "The King of Queens" in which Carrie goes back to school, she arrives home and complains to Doug about being expected to understand the Allegory of the Cave when she can't even comprehend two Darrins on "Bewitched".
  • The episode "I Married an Alien" of Roswell begins with Isabel watching the Bewitched episode "Long Live the Queen" on TV. In several subsequent extended fantasy scenes, she imagines a 1960s sitcom version of her married life, complete with Bewitched style animated opening, visual and sound effects, plot, and laugh track.
  • In the "Hands and Knees" episode of Mad Men, which takes place in a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 1960s, Roger Sterling is told by someone named "Louise" on the phone that "Larry" has died.

Spin-offs, crossovers, and remakes[edit]

The Flintstones[edit]

The 1965 episode of The Flintstones titled "Samantha" (1965), features Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery as Darrin and Samantha Stephens, who have just moved into the neighborhood.[19]

Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family[edit]

An animated cartoon made in 1972 by Hanna-Barbera Productions for The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, this featured teenage versions of Tabitha and Adam visiting their aunt and her family who travel with a circus.

Tabitha[edit]

Main article: Tabitha (TV series)

In 1977, a short-lived spin-off entitled Tabitha aired on ABC. Lisa Hartman plays Tabitha, now an adult working with her brother Adam at television station KXLA. There were several continuity differences with the original series. Adam and Tabitha had both aged far more than the intervening five years between the two series would have allowed. Adam also had become Tabitha's older mortal brother, rather than her younger warlock brother, as he was in Bewitched. Supporting character Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) says she has been close to Tabitha since childhood, though she had never been mentioned once in the original series. Tabitha's parents are mentioned but never appear. However Bernard Fox, Sandra Gould, George Tobias and Dick Wilson reprised their roles as Dr. Bombay, Gladys Kravitz, Abner Kravitz, and the "drunk guy", respectively.

Passions[edit]

Bernard Fox appeared as Dr. Bombay in two episodes of the supernatural-themed daytime soap opera Passions. This show also featured a character named Tabitha, a middle-aged witch whose parents were Samantha and a mortal, Darrin, and who names her own child "Endora."[20]

Theatrical movie[edit]

Main article: Bewitched (2005 film)

Bewitched inspired a 2005 film starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. The film, departing from the show's family-oriented tone, is not a remake but a re-imagining of the sitcom, with the action focused on arrogant, failing Hollywood actor Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) who is offered a career comeback playing Darrin in a remake of Bewitched. The role is contingent upon him finding the perfect woman to play Samantha. He chooses an unknown named Isabel Bigelow (Kidman), who is an actual witch. The film was written, directed, and produced by Nora Ephron, and was poorly received by most critics and was a financial disappointment. It earned $22 million less than the production cost domestically. However it earned an additional $68 million internationally. The New York Times called the film "an unmitigated disaster."[21]

Television remakes[edit]

  • Argentina: A remake called Hechizada, produced by Telefé, aired in early 2007. It starred Florencia Peña as Samantha, Gustavo Garzón as her husband, Eduardo, and Georgina Barbarrosa as Endora. This show adapted original scripts to an Argentinian context, with local humor and a contemporary setting. The show was cancelled due to low ratings after a few weeks.
  • Japan: TBS, a flagship station of Japan News Network, produced a remake called Okusama wa majo (奥さまは魔女, meaning "(My) Wife is a Witch"), also known as Bewitched in Tokyo.[22] Eleven episodes were broadcast on JNN stations Fridays at 10 p.m., from January 16 to March 26, 2004, and a special on December 21, 2004. The main character, Arisa Matsui, was portrayed by Ryōko Yonekura. Okusama wa majo is also the Japanese title for the original American series.
  • India: In 2002, Sony Entertainment Television began airing Meri Biwi Wonderful a local adaptation of Bewitched.
  • Russia: In 2009, TV3 broadcast a remake entitled "Моя любимая ведьма" ("My Favorite Witch"), starring Anna Zdor as Nadia (Samantha), Ivan Grishanov, as Ivan (Darrin) and Marina Esepenko as Nadia's mother. The series is very similar to the original, with most episodes based on those from the original series. American comedy writer/producer Norm Gunzenhauser oversaw the writing and directing of the series.
  • United Kingdom: In 2008, the BBC made a pilot episode of a British version, with Sheridan Smith as Samantha, Tom Price as Darrin, and veteran actress Frances de la Tour as Endora.
  • United States: In August 2011 it was reported that CBS ordered a script to be written by Marc Lawrence for a rebooted series of Bewitched.[23]

Episode availability[edit]

Syndication history[edit]

After completing its original run, ABC Daytime and ABC Saturday Morning continued to show the series until 1973. Bewitched has since been syndicated on many local US broadcast stations, including Columbia TriStar Television as part of the Screen Gems Network syndication package from 1973–82 and then since 1993, which featured by 1999 bonus wraparound content during episode airings.

From 1973 to 1982, the entire series was syndicated by Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures. By the late 70s, many local stations skipped the black and white episodes or only ran those in the summer due to a perception that black-and-white shows usually had less appeal than colored shows. From 1981 to about 1991, only the color episodes were syndicated in barter syndication by DFS Program Exchange. The first two seasons, which were in black and white were not included and Columbia retained the rights to those. Beginning in 1989 Nick at Nite began airing only the black-and-white episodes. The remaining six color seasons were added to Nick at Nite's lineup in 1990, originally unedited back then (they also ran unedited black-and-white episodes as well). The edited ones continued in barter syndication until 1992. Columbia syndicated the entire series beginning in 1991. Seasons 1-2 were later colorized and made available for syndication and eventually DVD sales. Cable television channel WTBS carried seasons 3-8 throughout the 1980s and 1990s from DFS on a barter basis like most local stations that carried the show did.

The Hallmark Channel aired the show from 2001 to 2003; TV Land then aired the show from 2003 to 2006, and it returned in March 2010,[24] but left the schedule in 2012. In October 2008, the show began to air on WGN America, and in October 2012 on Logo, limited to the middle seasons only. Channel 9 Australia airs the series on its digital channel GO! Russia-based channel Domashny aired the show from 2008 to 2010. MeTV aired the show in conjunction with I Dream of Jeannie from December 31, 2012 to September 1, 2013.[25] The show now airs on Antenna TV.

The show has been distributed by Columbia Pictures Television (1974–1982, 1988 (black and white ones only until 1990)-1996), DFS/The Program Exchange (1980–1991, 2010–present), Columbia TriStar Television (1996–2002), and Sony Pictures Television (2002–present).

Internet[edit]

Selected episodes may be viewed on iTunes, YouTube, Internet Movie Database, Hulu, The Minisode Network, Crackle, and Amazon.com.

The series may be viewed in its entirety on Netflix in Canada.

DVD releases[edit]

Beginning in 2005, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all eight seasons of Bewitched. In regions 1 and 4, seasons 1 and 2 were each released in two versions—one as originally broadcast in black-and-white, and one colorized. The complete series set only contains the colorized versions of Seasons 1-2. Only the colorized editions were released in regions 2 and 4.

On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Bewitched.[26] They subsequently re-released the first two seasons on DVD on January 21, 2014, in only their black and white versions.[27] Seasons 3 & 4 will be re-released on June 24, 2014.[28]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b A full list of directors and writers can be seen at this link.

References[edit]

  1. ^ TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows
  2. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997. 
  3. ^ Season 3 episode 16
  4. ^ "Nicknames". Bewitched @ Harpies Bizarre. Retrieved May 25, 2009. 
  5. ^ Episode 5.20, "Mrs. Stephens, Where Are You?" Aired 1969-02-13.
  6. ^ http://www.harpiesbizarre.com/serenasstyle.htm
  7. ^ IMDb bio of Marion Lorne Retrieved 2011-08-10
  8. ^ Lance, Steven (1996). Written Out of Television: A TV Lover’s Guide to Cast Changes, 1945 – 1994. Madison Books. p. 63. ISBN 1-56833-071-5. 
  9. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara (November 5, 2007). "'Bewitched' Curse". Snopes.com. Retrieved May 25, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Sargent Replaces Bewitched Costar". Los Angeles Times. January 31, 1969. p. G14. 
  11. ^ Interview with Kasey Rogers and Mark Wood - Bewitched @ Harpies Bizarre
  12. ^ Sol Saks: Creator of Bewitched from harpiesbizarre.com
  13. ^ a b c d e f Metz (2007), p. 18-25
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Metz (2007), p. 14-17
  15. ^ Alachi, Peter. "The Salem Saga, 1970". Bewitched @ Harpies Bizarre. Retrieved May 25, 2009. 
  16. ^ Pilato, Herbie J. (2002). Bewitched Forever: 40th Anniversary Edition. Wyomissing, Pennsylvania: Tapestry Press. ISBN 978-1-930819-40-5. 
  17. ^ Toklas, Alice B. (1954). The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. Harper & Rowe. p. 259. 
  18. ^ "Homecoming Plot Synopsis". imdb.com. 
  19. ^ Barbera, Joseph R. (Executive Producer/Writer), Montgomery, Elizabeth (Samantha Stephens), York, Dick (Darrin Stephens), Corden, Henry (Fred Flintstone), Vander Pyl, Jean (Wilma Flintstone), Blanc, Mel (Barney Rubble), and Johnson, Gerry (Betty Rubble) (1965-10-22). "Samantha". The Flintstones. Season 6. Episode 6. ABC.
  20. ^ "Tabitha Lenox". TV Acres. Retrieved December 12, 2010. 
  21. ^ Barnes, Brooks (July 31, 2009). "Full Stomachs, and Full Marriages Too". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2009. 
  22. ^ "奥さまは魔女 – Bewitched in Tokyo". Tokyo Broadcasting System. Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  23. ^ Fletcher, Alex (August 10, 2011). "'Bewitched' to be remade by CBS". Retrieved August 10, 2011. 
  24. ^ "TV Land March 2010 Has Return of Bewitched; Hope For Haiti Now Telethon Airs Friday Night". sitcomsonline.com. January 20, 2010. 
  25. ^ http://metvnetwork.com/programs.php?showID=88
  26. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment Signs Deals With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment To Expand Their Distribution Partnership
  27. ^ Sam and 'Derwood' in the ORIGINAL Black-and-White Seasons 1 and 2!
  28. ^ With a Nose Twitch, Mill Creek Conjures Up Both Seasons 3 and 4

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]