Judge Dennis Prince has something of his own to wiggle to make all sorts of magical things happen...behind closed doors, that is.
Our reviews of Bewitched (published November 1st, 2005), Bewitched: The Complete First Season (Black And White) (published August 10th, 2005), Bewitched: The Complete Second Season (published December 14th, 2005), and Bewitched: The Complete Eighth Season (published July 14th, 2009) are also available.
This season, Samantha gets her second Dick.
Sixties television proved to be ripe with frivolous and fanciful notions, offering American viewers weekly excursions to deserted islands, riding along with Hawaiian detectives, or adrift in space. Family situations, too, were often treated with fun and flair, especially within the Stephens' household. For the past five years, we've witnessed the trials and tribulations of a mortal man, Darrin (Dick York) who married a witch in the form of the shapely yet sensible sorceress, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery). As if married life isn't full enough with unexpected miscues, the fact that Samantha is a witch whom Darrin desperately attempts to prevent from invoking her magical powers simply adds more situational silliness. Add to the fact that Samantha's mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead) disapproves of her daughter's selection of the non-magical "Durwood," and the complications abound from an in-law relationship that's truly unique. With that, plus the magical "popping in" of Samantha's numerous relatives from the netherworld, plus a cavalcade of characters and creatures, the Stephens house plays host to an endless stream of secretive suburban sorcery—always to Darrin's chagrin.
Bewitched became a fast hit when it premiered in September 1964. The show set about to tackle the typical marital themes with a slyly comedic twist vis-a-vis friendly witchcraft. The show became a top-rated program during its first five years and seemed destined to maintain its high ranking. Along came the sixth season, though, which bore the undeniable theme of "change." Within the pre-credit sequence of the season opener, we're offered a new Darrin Stephens in the form of Dick Sargent (Dick York left the show due to chronic back troubles). There's nothing formal about the new Dick's introduction, just a nonchalant camera pan as Samantha chats with her new/old husband. Similarly, there's not much offered as explanation of Samantha's busyness in sprucing up a baby's crib beyond the couple's anticipation of yet another bundle of joy—possibly a boy this time (that would ultimately be Adam, arriving in episode 5, "And Something Makes Four"). There's also a new housemaid to assist Samantha—and infuriate Darrin—in the form of Esmeralda (Alice Ghostley), a woefully nervous witch who has lost most of her powers—until she sneezes, that is. In all, the season was clearly constructed to keep the show lively for viewers, they who might be tiring of the longstanding situation by this time. Unfortunately, many longtime fans of the series claim this as the death knell season where the show lost its edge (most blaming the Darrin switch). Taken apart from the previous seasons, though, it's still full of the charm that propelled the show and there are plenty of guest stars to keep the proceedings unpredictable.
On this new four-disc boxed set, Bewitched: The Complete Sixth Season, all 30 episodes are present, offered in their original 1.33:1 full frame broadcast format and running at about 25 minutes each. The quality of the transfers is quite impressive with very little source element dirt or damage. The colors are vibrant and detail is kicked up a notch (though a bit of edge enhance artifacting can be seen from time to time). The audio is delivered via the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track that is surprisingly clean and crisp without any distortion. The extra features are rather and unexpected, they being two "minisodes" that are completely unrelated to the Bewitched series. Both are severely edited episodes, one of The Partridge Family and another of I Dream of Jeannie, each compressed into a frantic five-minute format. The purpose of squeezing these shows from their original 30-minute format is unclear and, frankly, unwelcome to those who appreciate vintage programming. Sounds like another goof by Esmeralda.
Even if this sixth season of Bewitched is among your least favorite, it's nonetheless a welcome release of yet another installment of the long-running classic series.
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Scales of Justice
• Bonus minisode: The Partridge Family - "The Eleven Year Itch"
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