Judge Cynthia Boris has a pre-dinner cocktail with the Stephens' while watching Bewitched: The Complete Second Season.
Our reviews of Bewitched (published November 1st, 2005), Bewitched: The Complete First Season (Black And White) (published August 10th, 2005), Bewitched: The Complete Sixth Season (published May 7th, 2008), and Bewitched: The Complete Eighth Season (published July 14th, 2009) are also available.
"Oh, my stars!"—Samantha Stephens in forty different episodes of Bewitched
Elizabeth Montgomery worked in the TV business from 1951 to 1995 (the year of her death). During that time she made dozens of guest appearances on TV series (such as Burke's Law, The Twilight Zone, and 77 Sunset Strip) and made more than twenty TV movies (such as The Legend of Lizzie Borden and Mrs. Sundance). But you know and I know that none of that matters, because she will always be remembered by her signature role: Samantha Stephens on Bewitched.
Facts of the Case
Do I really have to bother? Is there anyone who doesn't know the premise of Bewitched, one of TV's true classic sitcoms? Well, fine, here goes. Darrin Stephens (Dick York) is an up-and-coming ad executive who falls in love with the girl of his dreams, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), only to find out that she's not just a dream—she's a witch. But Samantha doesn't want to be a witch anymore. She yearns for the mortal coil: marriage, children, keeping house, and volunteering at the charity bazaar (because this is an upper middle class comedy). They marry and have children. Sam swears to keep her witch twitching under control—but life happens and sometimes Sam just can't help herself. Sit back and enjoy thirty eight half-hour episodes loaded with mishaps, magic, and marvelous guest stars.
Here's a rundown:
The second season begins, rightly so, with the Stephens' first anniversary and the announcement that Sam is pregnant. This plot twist was developed so early on in the series because Elizabeth was expecting her second child, and producers saw no reason not to write it into the storyline. (They hid her first pregnancy because she was too-newly of a wed for that to be proper.) And while there are plenty of "baby themed" episodes in this season, such as "My Grandson the Warlock" and "Baby's First Paragraph," there are plenty of crazy character stories, too. Bewitched may be about Darrin and Samantha, but its success can largely be attributed to a wacky-but-endearing cast of supporting characters, including: Sam's mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead), father Maurice (the wonderful Maurice Evans, Planet of the Apes), practical joker Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde, Hollywood Squares), and next door neighbor Gladys Kravitz (Sandra Gould and Alice Pearce). This season also introduces us to Sam's groovy look-alike cousin, Serina, played by Elizabeth Montgomery herself.
Two things about Bewitched stand out to me whenever I watch an episode: cocktails and cigarettes. Bewitched was a sophisticated series about an upper-middle class suburban couple. They lived in a Stepford-like community, owned a fancy convertible. Darrin took the train to "the city" when he went to work, and he always had a cocktail when he came home. You see, I wasn't raised in a cocktails before dinner household, so I was always terribly impressed by how very shee-shee it was to have a martini waiting for you when you came home from the office. You'll also notice an abundance of cigarette smokers in the series (I know, I'm weird to notice these things); sophisticated, Chanel-suited smokers lurk in every public scene (just look behind Darrin in all the scenes where he's drinking at the local watering hole). Even as a child, I thought of Bewitched as a sophisticated series. Witches flying in from Rome and Paris. A night on the town in evening gown and tux. There is elegance in the first and second season of the series which gets a little lost when the show moves to color in the later years.
The packaging on this DVD set isn't quite as sophisticated as the series, but it is still quite nice. The lovely purple package lets you know right off that his is one of the black and white seasons (for people who don't do B&W). It features a montage of cast images with small representations of Sam's cute cartoon self. There are three plastic cases in a cardboard slipcase, with a variety of photos and magical graphics. The video and sound quality are both very good; sharp, clean—and I never had to mess with the volume on my remote.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There are really only two things that bother me at all about this great sitcom set. The first is just a 'huh?' point, more odd than anything else. There are five discs in this set and three snap cases, which means the last case has only one disc in it—okay, except that that one disc has only two episodes on it. How very odd is that? And how annoying is that since I hate putting in a disc for only two half hour episodes (I'm lazy)? Okay, so they couldn't squeeze one more half hour on discs 1- 4, fine—then why not evenly spread them out all across the five discs to eliminate the stragglers? Yeah, not a huge issue, but I do think it's dumb.
The larger issue is the so called "blooper reel" listed as an extra in this set. Whoever made "Bewitched, Bewildered and Be-Bloopered," should Be-quiet. Bloopers should be humorous outtakes of mistakes made while filming. Everything in this feature is a continuity error that would never have been noticed if it weren't for the birth of freeze frame. Some of these errors are so small (like lamps that move a fraction of an inch from scene to scene) that you really want to cry foul. When you look at the show with 1964-colored glasses, you'll see an amazing television feat: a weekly series that pulls off an enormous about of special effects on a short schedule and a tight budget. Sony, don't demean the efforts of this amazing cast and crew with nitpicks such as these. On the third season release, I'd rather see no extras than this snarky display.
Cocktails and cigarettes? I know, I know. It's Bewitched, so I should be talking about twitching noses and Endora's eye shadow and how many historical characters and barnyard animals show up in this particular season, but I'm not going to because you already know all these things. Bewitched is a classic, a sitcom standard by which all quirky sitcoms should be judged. It's an enjoyably acted, clever series with a not-too-heavy-handed weekly moral. What? You didn't notice the moral? Try "be careful what you wish for or you might get it." Or "money is the root of all evil." Or "pride goeth before the fall." Didn't catch those? Here's one you're sure not to miss. Love conquers all and it does—I love Bewitched.
I find Bewitched: The Complete Second Season quite sweet, romantic and innocent of all charges.
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Scales of Justice
• "Bewitched, Bewildered, and Be-Bloopered" Featurette
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