Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bewitched On Halloween

video
from wikipedia with some interesting sociological insights
Bewitched is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from 1964 to 1972. The show stars Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York (1964–1969), Dick Sargent (1969–1972), Agnes Moorehead and David White. It continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and it is the longest running supernatural themed sitcom of the 1960s–1970s.
Two of the film antecedents for this series were the 1942 film I Married a Witch (from Thorne Smith's unfinished novel The Passionate Witch), and the John Van Druten play that was eventually adapted as Bell, Book and Candle (1958).
The focus of the show (which was based on a satirical short story in Harper's Weekly Magazine, written by a young Norman Mailer and titled The Witch of Westport, according to the A&E Network Biography of Elizabeth Montgomery) is on the mixed marriage of a nose-twitching witch, Samantha Stephens (Montgomery), and her mortal husband, Darrin (originally played by Dick York and later by Dick Sargent). The series, a romantic comedy, shows how true love can endure the most vexing of situations, even between a witch and a human. The series is set in an upper middle class suburb, from which Darrin commutes to Manhattan for work.
Darrin works for advertising agency McMann and Tate. Darrin's profit-obsessed boss Larry Tate (David White) is an almost constant presence on the show, even though Tate's partner, Mr. McMann, appears only twice during the series. Tate's opinions would turn on a dime to appease a client and land a deal.
Samantha's mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead) loathes mortals, and disapproves of Darrin, as do most of Samantha's family. Endora refuses to use Darrin's name, variously calling him "Derwood," "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.
Many episodes revolve around Endora, or another of Darrin's in-laws, using magic to undermine the union. Although Endora casts countless spells on Darrin, she never threatens to outright destroy him, as she could easily do. Endora's ploy seems to be to provoke Darrin into leaving Samantha, but the mortal's love for his wife overcomes every obstacle. During a sequence when High Priestess Hepzibah (see below) expresses surprise that Darrin has withstood years of Endora's harassment, Endora can only shrug and admit, "He loves my daughter."
The pilot shows the two meeting and eloping. Endora is in the pilot but does not meet Darrin until early in the season. Later in the first season, Darrin meets Samantha's father, Maurice, and Samantha meets Darrin's parents, Phyllis and Frank Stephens. The second episode shows the couple buying a home in Westport Connecticut, at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, the main setting for all episodes except several at the beginning of the seventh and eighth seasons, which take place in Salem, Massachusetts and Europe respectively. The premise of the Salem episodes is they are there for a witches convention, but this was done of necessity as the set of their house had burned down and was being rebuilt.
Several episodes begin with an enraged Darrin becoming the victim of a spell. The after effects would wreak havoc with fellow mortals such as his mother, neighbors or agency clientele. By the epilogue, however, Darrin and Samantha would embrace and confound the devious elements that failed to separate them.
Some storylines take a backdoor approach to such topics as racism, as seen in the first season episode, "The Witches Are Out." Samantha objects to Darrin's demeaning ad portrayal of witches as ugly and deformed. Such stereotypical imagery, she believes, ignites biases which have often caused Endora and her to flee the country until November. One episode, "Sisters At Heart" (season 7), was written and submitted by a tenth-grade class. It involved Tabitha altering her and her black friend's skin tones with coordinating polka-dots, so that people would treat them alike. (A similar white-with-black vs. black-with-white concept had been seen earlier in Star Trek:"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," in which Frank Gorshin had appeared versus Lou Antonio.)
Bewitched is unique for the mid-1960s in that it portrays an estranged married couple—Samantha's parents, Endora (Agnes Moorehead) and Maurice (Maurice Evans). Maurice was portrayed as an urbane thespian not unlike Elizabeth Montgomery's real father, Robert Montgomery. Maurice occasionally pops in with a young, attractive female escort. The couple's separation is implied and subtextual. In the episode "Samantha's Good News," Endora threatened to file for an "ectoplasmic interlocutory" (code for divorce), only to wrangle Maurice's affection. In another episode Endora threatens to live with Maurice, thus acknowledging a separation. Endora once introduced Maurice as "my daughter's father." Maurice often refers to Darrin as "Dustbin".

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