TV classics: Bewitched

USA 1964-72, 8 seasons,  254 episodes, 25 minutes each, ABC, black & white (1964-66), then color. Created by: Sol Saks. Cast: Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York, Dick Sargent, Agnes Moorehead, David White, Erin Murphy, Also starring: George Tobias, Kasey Rogers, Alice Pearce, Sandra Gould, Marion Lorne, Bernard Fox, Diane Murphy, Irene Vernon, Maurice Evans, Paul Lynde, David Lawrence

Plot summary: When young witch Samantha marries mortal Darrin Stephens, she swears to abandon her powers and be a normal suburban housewife instead – very much to the dismay of her overbearing mother Endora who constantly frowns upon her daughter’s mortal ambitions and thus interferes with her life whenever she can.

Review: There are shows that are a pleasure to grow up with. Bewitched is one of those: funny, entertaining and lovely – from its main cast right down to every single recurring guest star. Elizabeth Montgomery (as leading lady Samantha Stephens) is a joy to watch mastering her weekly endeavors, always caught somewhere between her husband’s wish to keep their quiet little life as simple as possible and the scheming of her eccentric mother Endora, a witch to the core.

Samantha‘s struggle to please both parties and make the best of both worlds guarantees colorful adventures with characters from another world: warlocks, mythical creatures, kings and queens. Some of the most memorable ones sure are Samantha’s aunt Clara, Doctor Bombay, Samantha‘s father Maurice and uncle Arthur – all of which were beautifully cast, written and costumed. Dick York, equally well cast and convincing as Samantha’s husband Darrin Stephens (later replaced by Dick Sargent who did a fantastic job stepping into his predecessor’s big shoes in 1969) brings a genuine mixture of goofiness and earthiness to the table. His turf wars with mother-in-law Endora are a real treat, also due to the magnificently haunting talents of Agnes Moorehead, her sense for timing and her always dramatic exits.

The show lived off its cast and many creative storylines. Darrin’s boss Larry Tate, Samantha’s in-laws, quirky neighbor Gladys Kravitz and last but not least the Stephens’ children Tabitha and Adam – they all added to an atmosphere of gaiety and make-believe. They have tickled risible muscles of children and adults alike, and have created loving on-screen memories for everybody who is still in touch with her or his childhood heart.

Available on DVD. Bewitched theme song / intro

Side note: Bewitched has been referred to on many TV programs throughout TV history, e.g. on Roseanne, The Nanny and Charmed. The show itself used I Love Lucy storyline mimicry in a couple of episodes and was made into a feature film in 2005, starring Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell and Shirley MacLaine. A 1977 spin-off series called Tabitha was short-lived.

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