Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Witchcraft with Elizabeth Montgomery!

Bewitched (1964-1972)
Created by Sol Saks
Starring Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York, Agnes Moorehead, and David White

Bewitched was ranked 50 in TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time's list in 2002.  When I was a kid, it was certainly one of my favorite shows. I especially enjoyed the comedy of Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde) and Dr. Bombay (Bernard Fox).  But even as a kid, I felt the premise was a bit flawed.  A man marries a witch and doesn't want her to practice her craft?  She could conjure up a brand new convertible.  Her spells could fly them around the world.  A cold beverage is just a nose twitch away.  Who would want a "normal" spouse?  Darren Stevens does, and Samantha being a nice little 60s wife, obliges.  At least she tries to.

Most of the show's conflict revolves around either Samantha's inability to give up her gift, or the sudden appearance of one of her witch relatives, especially Samantha's mother Endora who likes to make mischief on Darren.  There is a also lot of fun with their goofy neighbor; nothing escapes the notice of Mrs. Kravitz (played by Alice Pearce and Sandra Gould), not a room full of fishing rods, not pictures moving by themselves on the wall, not a garage door opening on its own.  Her undue concern with the Stevenses makes one wonder if Mrs. Kravitz isn't descended from Salem Puritans.  Incidentally, in 2003 TV Land gave Bewitched "The Nosiest Neighbor" award, and in 2005 a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens was erected in Salem, Massachusetts.

Had the show taken its premise a bit further, so that there was some consequence to Samantha's use of witchcraft, it would have improved the show.  As it is, Darren comes across as either really sexist or really racist.  Or both.  Samantha can do something he can't, and he doesn't like it.  There needs to be more reason for Samantha to not practice witchcraft, like a real effect on the outside world.  Darren's selfishness notwithstanding, Bewitched is a fun program, especially the first two seasons.  Like The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched suffers some deterioration of quality once color is introduced.

A host of 60s personalities appeared on Bewitched including Adam West, June Lockhart, Reta Shaw, Madge Blake, Maureen McCormick, Peggy Lipton, Bill Mumy, Raquel Welch, and Willie Mays.

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