Tabitha (TV series)
Still from opening title sequence for Tabitha
|Created by||Jerry Mayer|
|Directed by||Charles S. Dubin
|Theme music composer||Jeff Barry|
|Opening theme||"It Could Be Magic" performed by Lisa Hartman|
|Ending theme||"It Could Be Magic"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Executive producer(s)||Jerry Mayer|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Columbia Pictures Television
|Distributor||Columbia TriStar Domestic Television
Sony Pictures Television
|Original run||April 24, 1976– January 14, 1978|
Tabitha is an American fantasy sitcom that aired during the 1977-1978 season on ABC. It is a spin-off of Bewitched, which had ended its run five years earlier in 1972. The series stars Lisa Hartman in the title role as Tabitha, Samantha and Darrin Stephens' daughter who was introduced on Bewitched during its second season.
In the series, Tabitha is portrayed as a 20-something production assistant living and working in Los Angeles. The supporting cast includes David Ankrum as Tabitha's brother Adam with whom she works, Robert Urich as an egomaniacal talk show host who is a sometime love interest for Tabitha, and Mel Stewart as Tabitha and Adam's cranky but loveable boss. Unlike Bewitched, which was a hit for ABC and aired for eight seasons, Tabitha failed to catch on with viewers and was canceled after one season.
Tabitha first originated as a pilot that aired on ABC on April 24, 1976. The episode used the variant spelling Tabatha for the title, and starred Liberty Williams in the title role. Bruce Kimmel portrayed her brother, Adam Stephens. The major difference between the pilot and the series was that Adam was a full-fledged and mischievous warlock in the pilot, but was made a mortal for the series (thus making him the disapproving figure as Darrin had been). In the first pilot, Tabatha was an editorial assistant for the fictional Trend magazine, lived in San Francisco, and had a boyfriend named Cliff (Archie Hahn). She also contended with the supernatural antics of Adam. In situations that were very similar to "I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha", the pilot episode of Bewitched, Tabatha tells Cliff that she is a witch, who at first does not believe her, but later discovers that she is telling the truth. Also, much like her mother did when she used her powers to deflect the unwanted affections of Sheila Sommers, her father's former fiancee, Tabatha deflects rival Dinah Nichols (Barbara Rhoades) from seducing Cliff.
The first pilot (directed by Bewitched producer/director William Asher) did not sell the series. A second pilot starring Lisa Hartman was produced that interested ABC who bought the series. In the second version, Hartman replaced Liberty Williams as Tabitha Stephens, the daughter of Samantha and Darrin. Tabitha is now a 20-something witch working as a production assistant at KXLA television station in Los Angeles. Working with her is her now-older and mortal brother Adam (David Ankrum) who admonishes her use of witchcraft. Her previously unmentioned Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) pops in frequently to encourage her to use her witchcraft. Robert Urich is Tabitha's boss and romantic interest.
The revised Tabitha pilot aired on ABC on May 7, 1977. The series debuted on the fall schedule on September 10, 1977.
William Asher, who worked on the first pilot, had little to do with the second version of the series. While he directed a few episodes, namely the ones that feature Bernard Fox, George Tobias and Sandra Gould as their original Bewitched characters, he otherwise remained as an advisor.
- Tabitha Stephens (Lisa Hartman) is the main character. She is the daughter of Samantha and Darrin Stephens. She twitches her nose, much like her mother does, to invoke her magic spells.
- Adam Stephens (David Ankrum) is Tabitha's younger brother. He is the son of Samantha and Darrin Stephens. He is against Tabitha using witchcraft (much like Darrin, their father, was) and persuades Tabitha not to use her magic. Despite that, though, he does love his sister.
- Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) is Adam and Tabitha's aunt. She is a meddlesome, but well-meaning busy-body and encourages Tabitha to use her magic. She is the mother figure for Tabitha, in lieu of Samantha and Endora.
- Paul Thurston (Robert Urich) is the egotistical, somewhat obnoxious host of The Paul Thurston Show on the fictional TV station KXLA, where Tabitha works as a production assistant. Paul is a love interest for Tabitha, but that did not stop him from being a womanizer.
- Marvin Decker (Mel Stewart) is producer of The Paul Thurston Show and Tabitha's cranky but lovable boss at KXLA.
Several Bewitched characters appeared on Tabitha. In the series' second episode, "Tabitha's Weighty Problem", Bernard Fox reprises his role as Dr. Bombay, and again in the last episode, "Tabitha's Party", in which the character's first name, "Hubert" is revealed. The sixth episode, "The Arrival of Nancy", features George Tobias and Sandra Gould as Abner and Gladys Kravitz. Dick Wilson, who played the "drunk guy" on Bewitched appeared in the episodes "Halloween Show" and the final episode. Mary Grace Canfield, who appeared on four episodes of Bewitched as Abner Kravitz's sister Harriet Kravitz, also guest starred albeit as another character. Other guest stars include:
|Episode #||Episode Title||Original Airdate|
|0||"Tabatha" (Pilot #1)||April 24, 1976|
|1||"Tabitha" (Pilot #2)||May 7, 1977|
|2||"Tabitha's Weighty Problem"||September 10, 1977|
|3||"Halloween Show"||November 12, 1977|
|4||"A Star Is Born"||November 19, 1977|
|5||"Minerva Goes Straight"||November 26, 1977|
|6||"Mr. Nice Guy"||December 10, 1977|
|7||"The Arrival of Nancy"||December 17, 1977|
|8||"Tabitha's Triangle"||December 24, 1977|
|9||"That New Black Magic"||December 31, 1977|
|10||"What's Wrong with Mister Right?"||December 31, 1977|
|11||"Paul Goes to New York"||January 7, 1978|
|12||"Tabitha's Party"||January 14, 1978|
Discontinuities with Bewitched
The series takes place in the "present day" (late 1970s) yet does not reconcile how Tabitha and Adam could be in their early-to-mid 20s when they had been young children at the time Bewitched ended only five years earlier, nor why Adam is now the older sibling, nor why Adam was now mortal rather than a warlock. As a pre-teen, Erin Murphy, who had played Tabitha on Bewitched, was far too young to play an adult Tabitha. In the final episode of Tabitha, Samantha and Darrin's 25th wedding anniversary is being celebrated, even though their marriage in the 1964 premiere episode of Bewitched had been only 14 years earlier.
Elizabeth Montgomery, who starred as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched, was asked to reprise her role on Tabitha which she declined. She later said of the series:
"First of all, I didn't see the show, but I heard that she [Lisa Hartman] didn't twitch as well as I did. I kept getting mail from people were who outraged, saying, 'Where is Erin Murphy? What in the world (is going on)?! This woman is 25...this doesn't make any sense.' I was getting mail from people like it was my fault, although also saying, 'Thank God you didn't have anything to do with this.'[...] They felt betrayed. I thought, 'How can you be betrayed by a TV show?' But they were irate. I got almost as much mail about that as I get about anything else. It was very funny...ranged from kids who hated it to grownups who said, 'This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen.'[...]"
Reception and cancellation
After the series premiered on September 10, 1977, the second episode aired over two months later on November 12, 1977. The series then continued to air regularly on Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST. Ratings for Tabitha were initially good but began to drop off mid-way through the first season. In January 1978, ABC moved Tabitha from its Saturday night spot to Fridays at 8 p.m. (typically known as the Friday night death slot) where ratings continued to fall. ABC canceled the series shortly thereafter. Tabitha continued to air in reruns through August 1978.
Tabitha was produced by Ashmont Productions (the company owned by Elizabeth Montgomery and William Asher), and filmed at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, California. It was filmed with a single camera with an added laugh track.
In 2005, to coincide with the release of the first season of Bewitched on DVD (and the release of the Bewitched feature film), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the entire run of Tabitha on DVD. The original Liberty Williams pilot is included as a special feature.
- Leszczak 2012, p. 178.
- Leszczak, Bob (2012). Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide. McFarland. p. 213. ISBN 0-786-49305-4.
- Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 1048. ISBN 0-786-46477-1.
- Pilato, Herbie J. (2012). Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 253. ISBN 1-589-79749-3.
- Hanauer, Joan (May 5, 1977). "NBC Looks At America's Most Unreported Crime - Incest". Times-Union. p. 6. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- Pilato 2012, pp. 254-255.
- Werts, Diane (June 21, 2005). "TV on DVD". Newsday. p. B21.
- Tabitha at the Internet Movie Database
- Tabitha at TV.com
- Tabitha at epguides.com
- Bruce Kimmel reminisces about the first pilot