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TelevisionWeek Executive Editor Tom Gilbert joins our roster of bloggers with this forum all about classic television, where anything from "Leave It to Beaver" to "Malcolm in the Middle" is fair game for discussion. Reunion specials, DVD releases of classic shows, vintage commercials -- anything that's ever been telecast is the hot topic here.

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Timeless TV



Bedazzling ‘Bewitched’

March 21, 2007 1:02 PM


There are few sitcoms as good as “Bewitched.” I mean, come on, Agnes Moorehead as imperious Endora? How great was she? And Marion Lorne as stuttering, bumbling Aunt Clara? You can’t even tell she’s acting.

“Bewitched” was a very funny single-camera comedy with a great cast of character actors, and it still holds up. It’s amazing the directors (primarily Bill Asher) could maintain the superb comic timing with all the starts and stops and set-ups the special effects called for—all while shooting on film with no audience reaction to go by. The only show to come along in recent times that even compares to it is “Malcolm in the Middle”; the recent movie starring Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell didn’t come anywhere near doing it justice.

The stars, Elizabeth Montgomery, as the beautiful witch Samantha, married to Dick York, as the insufferably mortal Darrin Stephens, played well off of each other. Both were originals and even though they were the leads, they were character actors of sorts; he was pretty much geeked-out while she was a little more goofily comical than your average blonde sitcom star.

Some other standouts: Mabel (“Sick Headache”) Albertson as Darrin’s meddlesome mother; Alice Pearce as the relentlessly nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz; Paul Lynde as the snide Uncle Arthur and Alice Ghostley as the tentative housekeeper Esmeralda—they just don’t make ’em like that anymore. (By the way, did Paul Lynde really steal Alice Ghostley’s act, as has been rumored? Does anybody know? It’s uncanny how similar their styles are, down to the head-waggling line delivery.)

Here’s a great clip -- the first time Darrin meets mother-in-law Endora:


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Comments (7)

Alex:

I always though the supporting characters were the best thing about Bewitched. Not much chemistry between either Darren and Samantha. Love this clip!

I prefer I Dream of Jeannie for a sixties show with characters with chemistry.

I agree with you about the chemistry thing; Jeannie and Capt. Nelson were definitely a hotter combo, but the "Jeannie" supporting players were one-note (especially Dr. Bellows and his wife; Roger had his good moments). Did you ever notice in the second episode of "Jeannie," when the car pulls up to the curb in fromt of Capt. Nelson's house, the Stephens' house from "Bewitched" is visible across the street in the background?

Lela:

This certainly was a classic show - the writing on this and some of the other sitcoms of the time (Car 54, The Munsters, The Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith) were collectively far superior to what we find on sitcoms today. The ensemble acting on Bewitched, though, was special - one of my favorites that you didn't mention was the weasly, spineless Larry Tate (David White). I also enjoyed how they depicted the advertising biz of the 1960s - lots of very funny (and uncomfortably familiar to those of us in the agency world) situations involving pitching and wooing clients.

Witz:

I read a bio of Paul Lynde, and he and Alice Ghostley worked together a lot early in their careers, so it's highly likely he was influenced by her or vice versa!

Awesome.

Herbie J Pilato
Author
Bewitched Forever
The Bewitched Book

Thanks, Herbie. I really enjoyed your book. Saw Bill Asher at the TV Land Awards last night ... he was there with the "Lucy" contingent. Tom

Bill:

I always loved Bewitched and have many of there shows on the DVD collections now available: Come take a look at what I have to say on my lenses at http://squidoo.com/bewitched

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