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Bewitched is an American television sitcom fantasy series, originally broadcast for eight seasons on ABC from September 17, 1964 to March 25, 1972. It was created by Sol Saks under executive director Harry Ackerman, and starred Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York (1964–1969), Agnes Moorehead, David White and Erin Murphy. Dick Sargent replaced an ailing York for the final three seasons (1969–1972). The show is about a witch who marries an ordinary mortal man, and vows to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife. Bewitched enjoyed great popularity, finishing as the number two-rated show in America during its debut season, staying in the top ten for its first three seasons, and just missing this mark with an eleventh place ranking for both seasons four and five. The show continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and on recorded media.
|Created by||Sol Saks|
|Written by||Various[nb 1]|
|Directed by||William Asher (most episodes)[nb 1]|
Dick York (1964–1969)
Dick Sargent (1969–1972)
|Theme music composer||Howard Greenfield|
|Composer(s)||Warren Barker (most episodes)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||254 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Harry Ackerman|
|Producer(s)||Danny Arnold (17 episodes, first season)|
Jerry Davis (most episodes, first and second seasons)
William Froug (third season)
William Asher (remainder of show)
|Running time||approx. 25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Screen Gems|
Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia TriStar Television (1995–2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002–present)
|Picture format||Black-and-white (1964–1966)|
|Original release||September 17, 1964– March 25, 1972|
In 2002, Bewitched was ranked #50 on "TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time". In 1997, the same magazine ranked the season 2 episode "Divided He Falls" #48 on their list of the "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time".
A beautiful witch named Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) meets and marries a mortal named Darrin Stephens (originally Dick York, later Dick Sargent). While Samantha complies with Darrin's wishes to become a normal suburban housewife, her magical family disapproves of the mixed marriage and frequently interferes in the couple's lives. Episodes often begin with Darrin becoming the victim of a spell, the effects of which wreak havoc with mortals such as his boss, clients, parents, and neighbors. By the epilogue, however, Darrin and Samantha most often embrace, having overcome the devious elements that failed to separate them. The witches and their male counterparts, warlocks, are very long-lived; while Samantha appears to be a young woman, many episodes suggest she is actually hundreds of years old. To keep their society secret, witches avoid showing their powers in front of mortals other than Darrin. Nevertheless, the effects of their spells – and Samantha's attempts to hide their supernatural origin from mortals – drive the plot of most episodes. Witches and warlocks usually use physical gestures along with their incantations. To perform magic, Samantha often twitches her nose to create a spell. Special visual effects are accompanied by music to highlight such an action.
The main setting for most episodes is the Stephens' house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, in an upper-middle-class suburban neighborhood, either in Westport, Connecticut or Patterson, New York as indicated by conflicting information presented throughout the series. The season 3 episode "Soap Box Derby" shows the Mills Garage in Patterson as a neighbor's son's car sponsor, and the Stephens' station wagon is seen with New York plates. Also, in season 7 episode "Laugh, Clown, Laugh" Darrin's car is seen with New York plates on it. Elizabeth Montgomery owned a second home in Patterson. Many scenes also take place at the fictional Madison Avenue advertising agency "McMann and Tate", where Darrin works.
- Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens
- Dick York (seasons 1-5), Dick Sargent (season 6-8) as Darrin Stephens
- Agnes Moorehead as Endora
- David White (recurring in seasons 1-5, starring in seasons 6-8) as Larry Tate
During its run, the series had a number of major cast changes, often because of illness or death of the actors. In particular, the performer playing Darrin was replaced after the fifth season, during which he missed several episodes.
According to Harpie's Bizarre, (a website based on the frequently-depicted "witch magazine" from the series) creator Sol Saks' inspirations for this series in which many similarities can be seen were the film I Married a Witch (1942) developed from Thorne Smith's unfinished novel The Passionate Witch, and the John Van Druten Broadway play Bell, Book and Candle, which was adapted into the 1958 film Bell, Book and Candle.
In I Married a Witch, Wallace Wooley (Fredric March) is a descendant of people who executed witches at the Salem witch trials. As revenge, a witch (Veronica Lake) prepares a love potion for him. She ends up consuming her own potion and falling for her enemy. Her father is against this union. In the film of Bell, Book and Candle, modern witch Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) uses a love spell on Shep Henderson (James Stewart) to have a simple fling with him but genuinely falls for the man.
Both films were properties of Columbia Pictures, which also owned Screen Gems, the company that produced Bewitched.
Production and broadcastingEdit
Sol Saks, who received credit as the creator of the show, wrote the pilot of Bewitched though he was not involved with the show after the pilot. Creator Saks, executive producer Harry Ackerman, and director William Asher started rehearsals for the pilot on November 22, 1963; it coincided with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Asher felt personally affected by the event as he knew Kennedy; he had produced the 1962 televised birthday party where Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President". But the show had to go on. The pilot concerned "the occult destabilization of the conformist life of an upwardly mobile advertising man". First season producer and head writer Danny Arnold set the initial style and tone of the series, and also helped develop supporting characters such as Larry Tate and the Kravitzes. Arnold, who wrote on McHale's Navy and other shows, thought of Bewitched essentially as a romantic comedy about a mixed marriage; his episodes kept the magic element to a minimum. One or two magical acts drove the plot, but Samantha often solved problems without magic. Many of the first season's episodes were allegorical, using supernatural situations as metaphors for the problems any young couple would face. Arnold stated that the two main themes of the series were the conflict between a powerful woman and a husband who cannot deal with that power, and the anger of a bride's mother at seeing her daughter marry beneath her. Though the show was a hit right from the beginning, finishing its first year as the number 2 show in the United States, ABC wanted more magic and more farcical plots, causing battles between Arnold and the network.
Its first season, Bewitched was the number one show of the American Broadcasting Company and the best rated sitcom among all three networks. It was second in ratings only to Bonanza. Bewitched aired at 9 pm Thursday evenings. It was preceded on the air by another sitcom, My Three Sons, and followed by the soap opera Peyton Place. My Three Sons finished 13th in the ratings and Peyton Place ninth. The block formed by the three shows was the strongest ratings grabber in ABC's schedule.Arnold left the show after the first season, leaving producing duties to his friend Jerry Davis, who had already produced some of the first season's episodes (though Arnold was still supervising the writing). The second season was produced by Davis and with Bernard Slade as head writer, with misunderstandings and farce becoming a more prevalent element but still included a number of more low-key episodes in which the magic element was not front and center. With the third season and the switch to color, Davis left the show, and was replaced as producer by William Froug. Slade also left after the second season. According to William Froug's autobiography, William Asher (who had directed many episodes) wanted to take over as producer when Jerry Davis left, but the production company was not yet ready to approve the idea. Froug, a former producer of Gilligan's Island and the last season of The Twilight Zone, was brought in as a compromise. By his own admission, Froug was not very familiar with Bewitched and found himself in the uncomfortable position of being the official producer even though Asher was making most of the creative decisions. After a year, Froug left the show, and Asher took over as full-time producer of the series for the rest of its run. The first two seasons had aired Thursdays at 9:00, and the time was moved to 8:30 shortly after the third year (1966–1967) had begun. Nevertheless, the ratings for Bewitched remained high and it placed among the top fifteen shows through the 1968–69 season. It was the seventh highest-rated show in both the U.S. '65–'66 and '66–'67 schedules. Similarly, it was number 11 the following two years.
At the time, the show had won three Emmy Awards. William Asher won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in 1966. Alice Pearce posthumously won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of Gladys Kravitz and Marion Lorne won the same award posthumously in 1968 for her portrayal of Aunt Clara. Producers were faced with how to deal with the deaths of both these actresses. When Pearce died in the spring of 1966, only a few episodes of season two remained to be filmed. Mary Grace Canfield was hired to play Gladys's sister-in-law, Harriet Kravitz in four episodes. Comedian Alice Ghostley was approached to take over the role of Gladys the next season, but turned it down. Instead, Sandra Gould was hired. Marion Lorne was not replaced, and the character of Aunt Clara was not seen after the fourth season. Rather, beginning in the show's sixth year, Ghostley was finally used to play the character of Esmeralda, a kind but shy and inept witch. In another notable casting change, Louise Tate, played by Irene Vernon during the first two seasons, was played by Kasey Rogers thereafter. During the fifth season (1968–1969), Serena (Samantha's identical cousin, also played by Montgomery) was used more frequently. Filming of scenes involving both Samantha and Serena was accomplished by using Melody McCord, Montgomery's stand-in.
In this same season, in the most notable of the show's many cast changes, Dick York became unable to continue his role as Darrin because of a severe back condition, the result of an accident during the filming of They Came To Cordura (1959). Starting with the third season, York's disability had caused ongoing shooting delays and script rewrites resulting in increasingly frequent episodes without Darrin. After collapsing while filming the episode "Daddy Does His Thing" and being rushed to the hospital in January 1969, York left the show permanently. That same month, Dick Sargent was cast to play Darrin beginning in the sixth season. The remainder of the fifth season was filmed without York and features many episodes where Darrin is away on business. At about the same time, Montgomery and Asher announced that they were expecting another baby and it was decided that Samantha and Darrin would also have another child in the fall of that year. On screen, Samantha tells Darrin over the phone the news of her second pregnancy.
Beginning with the sixth season's (1969–1970) opening credits, in addition to York being replaced with Sargent, Elizabeth Montgomery was billed above the title, and David White now received billing as well, after Agnes Moorehead's. During this year, the show saw a significant decline in ratings, falling from eleventh to 24th place. In mid-1970, the set of the Stephens' home was being rebuilt due to a fire. In June, the cast and crew traveled to Salem, Magnolia, and Gloucester, Massachusetts to film an eight-part story arc in which Samantha, Darrin, and Endora travel to Salem for the centennial Witches Convocation. These location shoots marked the only times the show would film away from its Hollywood studio sets and backlot. Season seven premiered with eight so-called 'Salem Saga' episodes. On June 15, 2005, TV Land unveiled a Samantha statue in Salem to mark the show's 40th anniversary. On hand were three surviving actors from the show, Bernard Fox, Erin Murphy, and Kasey Rogers, as well as producer/director William Asher.
These on-location episodes helped the show's sagging ratings, but after the Salem episodes, viewership again dwindled. Scripts from old episodes were recycled frequently. The year's ratings for Bewitched had fallen and the show did not even rank in the list of the top thirty programs. ABC moved Bewitched 's airtime from Thursdays at 8:30 pm to Wednesdays at 8:00 pm at the beginning of the eighth season. The schedule change did not help ratings as the show was now pitted against CBS's popular The Carol Burnett Show. Fewer recurring characters were used this season, with the Kravitzes, Darrin's parents, and Uncle Arthur not appearing at all. Filming ended in December 1971, and in January 1972 the show was finally moved to Saturday night at 8:00 pm, opposite television's number one show, All in the Family, where it fared even worse, with Bewitched finishing in 72nd place for the year.
Sets and locationsEdit
The 1959 Columbia Pictures film Gidget was filmed on location at a real house in Santa Monica (at 267 18th Street). The blueprint design of this house was later reversed and replicated as a house facade attached to an existing garage on the backlot of Columbia's Ranch. This was the house seen on Bewitched. The patio and living room sets seen in Columbia's Gidget Goes to Rome (1963) were soon adapted for the permanent Bewitched set for 1964. The interior of the Stephens' house can be seen, substantially unaltered, in the Jerry Lewis film Hook, Line & Sinker (1969). The set was also used several times in the television series Gidget and I Dream of Jeannie, as well as the made-for-television movie Brian's Song (1971). It was also used, as a setting for an opening tag sequence, for the final episode of the first season of another Screen Gems property, The Monkees and in an episode of The Fantastic Journey. The house served as Doctor Bellows' house on I Dream of Jeannie, and was seen in an episode of Home Improvement when Tim Taylor took Tool Time on location to the house of Vinnie's mother to repair a gas leak in the basement furnace (with a second gas leak at the kitchen stove, unbeknownst to Tim). The Stephens house was also featured in a Fruit of the Loom Christmas commercial and it was used as Clark Griswold's boyhood home in his old home movies in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. On the Columbia studio backlot, the Kravitzes' house was actually down the street from the Stephenses' house exterior. Both houses' exterior doors opened to an unfinished eighteen-by-fifteen-foot entry, as the interiors were shot on studio sound stages elsewhere. A "front porch" set, replicating the porch of the backlot house was created as well. From 1964 through 1966 the Kravitzes' house was the same as used for The Donna Reed Show, beginning with season 3 color episodes in 1966, the Kravitz house sets were the same as what would (years later) be featured as The Partridge Family house. Production and filming for Bewitched was based in Los Angeles and, although the setting is assumed to be New York, several episodes feature wide-angle exterior views of the Stephenses' neighborhood showing a California landscape with mountains in the distance. Another example of questionable continuity regarding the location can be seen in Season 6, Episode 6: Darrin's parents drive home after visiting the new baby, passing several large palm trees lining the street.
In February 1964, feminist Betty Friedan wrote the two-part essay "Television and the Feminine Mystique" for TV Guide, wherein she criticized the way women were portrayed in television. She summarized their depiction as stupid, unattractive, and insecure household drudges. Their time was divided between dreaming of love and plotting revenge on their husbands. Samantha was not depicted this way and Endora used Friedan-like words to criticize the boring drudgery of household life. Others have looked at the way that the series 'play[ed] into and subvert[ed] a rich load of cultural stereotypes and allusions' regarding witches, gender roles, advertising and consumerism.
In the episode "Eat at Mario's" (May 27, 1965), Samantha and Endora co-operate in using their witchcraft to defend and promote a quality Italian restaurant. They take delight in an active, aggressive role in the public space, breaking new ground in the depiction of women in television.
Walter Metz attributes the success of the series to its snappy writing, the charm of Elizabeth Montgomery, and the talents of its large supporting cast. The show also made use of respected film techniques for its special effects. The soundtrack was unique, notably where it concerned the synthesized sound of nose twitching.
The first episodes feature a voice-over narrator "performing comic sociological analyses" of the role of a witch in middle class suburbia. The style was reminiscent of Hollywood films such as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). In a 1991 audio interview with film historian Ronald Haver, Elizabeth Montgomery revealed that her father Robert Montgomery was originally approached to narrate these episodes but he refused. Instead, the narration was done by Academy Award-winning actor José Ferrer, who did not receive credit.
Spin-offs, crossovers, and remakesEdit
The 1965 episode of The Flintstones titled "Samantha" (1965), featured Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery as Darrin and Samantha Stephens, who have just moved into the neighborhood. This crossover was facilitated by both series being broadcast on ABC.
Tabitha and Adam and the Clown FamilyEdit
An animated cartoon made in 1972 by Hanna-Barbera Productions for The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, this featured teenage versions of Tabitha and Adam visiting their aunt and her family who travel with a circus.
In 1977, a short-lived spin-off entitled Tabitha aired on ABC. Lisa Hartman played Tabitha, now an adult working with her brother Adam at television station KXLA. There were several continuity differences with the original series. Adam and Tabitha had both aged far more than the intervening five years between the two series would have allowed. Adam also had become Tabitha's older mortal brother, rather than her younger warlock brother, as he was in Bewitched. Supporting character Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) says she has been close to Tabitha since childhood, though she had never been mentioned once in the original series. Tabitha's parents are mentioned but never appear. However Bernard Fox, Sandra Gould, George Tobias and Dick Wilson reprised their roles as Dr. Bombay, Gladys Kravitz, Abner Kravitz, and "various drunks."
Bewitched inspired a 2005 film starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. The film, departing from the show's family-oriented tone, is not a remake but a re-imagining of the sitcom, with the action focused on arrogant, failing Hollywood actor Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) who is offered a career comeback playing Darrin in a remake of Bewitched. The role is contingent upon him finding the perfect woman to play Samantha. He chooses an unknown named Isabel Bigelow (Kidman), who is an actual witch. The film was written, directed, and produced by Nora Ephron, and was poorly received by most critics and was a financial disappointment. It earned $22 million less than the production cost domestically. However it earned an additional $68 million internationally. The New York Times called the film "an unmitigated disaster."
- Argentina: A remake called Hechizada, produced by Telefé, aired in early 2007. It starred Florencia Peña as Samantha, Gustavo Garzón as her husband, Eduardo, and Georgina Barbarrosa as Endora. This show adapted original scripts to an Argentinian context, with local humor and a contemporary setting. The show was cancelled due to low ratings after a few weeks.
- Japan: TBS, a flagship station of Japan News Network, produced a remake called Okusama wa majo (奥さまは魔女, meaning "(My) Wife is a Witch"), also known as Bewitched in Tokyo. Eleven episodes were broadcast on JNN stations Fridays at 10 pm, from January 16 to March 26, 2004, and a special on December 21, 2004. The main character, Arisa Matsui, was portrayed by Ryōko Yonekura. Okusama wa majo is also the Japanese title for the original American series.
- India: In 2002, Sony Entertainment Television began airing Meri Biwi Wonderful a local adaptation of Bewitched.
- Russia: In 2009, TV3 broadcast a remake entitled "Моя любимая ведьма" ("My Favorite Witch"), starring Anna Zdor as Nadia (Samantha), Ivan Grishanov, as Ivan (Darrin) and Marina Esepenko as Nadia's mother. The series is very similar to the original, with most episodes based on those from the original series. American comedy writer/producer Norm Gunzenhauser oversaw the writing and directing of the series.
- United Kingdom: In 2008, the BBC made a pilot episode of a British version, with Sheridan Smith as Samantha, Tom Price as Darrin, and veteran actress Frances de la Tour as Endora.
On October 22, 2014, Sony Pictures Television announced that it sold a pilot of Bewitched to NBC as a possible entry for the 2015—2016 US television season. This show would have focused on Tabitha's daughter Daphne, a single woman who despite having magical powers as her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, is determined not to use it to find a soul mate. The new version of the proposed series, written by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, had been on the radar of several major networks, including ABC, after Sony began shopping the project to interested parties.
On August 23, 2018, ABC announced that it had bought a pilot for a single camera Bewitched remake from Black-ish creator Kenya Barris. This is Barris's last new project for the network before his exclusive contract with Netflix goes into effect.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||Nielsen ratings|
|First aired||Last aired||Rank||Rating||Tied with|
|1||36||September 17, 1964||June 3, 1965||2||31.0||N/A|
|2||38||September 16, 1965||June 9, 1966||7||25.9||The Beverly Hillbillies|
|3||33||September 15, 1966||May 4, 1967||7||23.4||Daktari|
The Beverly Hillbillies
|4||33||September 7, 1967||May 16, 1968||11||23.5||N/A|
|5||30||September 26, 1968||April 24, 1969||11||23.3||Mission: Impossible|
The Red Skelton Show
|6||30||September 18, 1969||April 16, 1970||24||20.6||NBC Saturday Night at the Movies|
|7||28||September 24, 1970||April 22, 1971||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|8||26||September 15, 1971||March 25, 1972||72||11.3||N/A|
After completing its original run, ABC Daytime and ABC Saturday Morning continued to show the series until 1973. Bewitched has since been syndicated on many local US broadcast stations from 1973–82 and then since 1993, including Columbia TriStar Television as part of the Screen Gems Network syndication package from 1999–2001, which featured by 1999 bonus wraparound content during episode airings.
From 1973 to 1982, the entire series was syndicated by Screen Gems/Columbia Pictures. By the late '70s, many local stations skipped the black and white episodes or only ran those in the summer due to a perception that black-and-white shows usually had less appeal than shows filmed in color. From 1981 to about 1991, only the color episodes were syndicated in barter syndication by DFS Program Exchange. The first two seasons, which were in black and white were not included and Columbia retained the rights to those. Beginning in 1989, Nick at Nite began airing only the black-and-white episodes, which were originally unedited back then. The edited ones continued in barter syndication until 1992. Columbia syndicated the entire series beginning in 1991. The remaining six color seasons were added to Nick at Nite's lineup in March 1998 in a week-long Dueling Darrins Marathon. Seasons 1–2 were later colorized and made available for syndication and eventually DVD sales. Cable television channel WTBS carried seasons 3–8 throughout the 1980s and 1990s from DFS on a barter basis like most local stations that carried the show did.
The Hallmark Channel aired the show from 2001 to 2003; TV Land then aired the show from 2003 to 2006, and it returned in March 2010, but left the schedule in 2012. In October 2008, the show began to air on WGN America, and in October 2012 on Logo, limited to the middle seasons only. In Australia, this series aired on the Nine Network's digital channel GO! later it moved to the Seven Network's digital channels 7TWO later 7flix, Russia-based channel Domashny aired the show from 2008 to 2010. MeTV aired the show in conjunction with I Dream of Jeannie from December 31, 2012 to September 1, 2013. The show now airs on Antenna TV.
The show has been distributed by Columbia Pictures Television (1974–1982, 1988 (black and white ones only until 1990)-1996), DFS/The Program Exchange (1980–1991, 2010–2014), Columbia TriStar Television (1996–2002), and Sony Pictures Television (2002–present).
Beginning in 2005, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released all eight seasons of Bewitched. In regions 1 and 4, seasons 1 and 2 were each released in two versions—one as originally broadcast in black-and-white, and one colorized. The complete series set only contains the colorized versions of Seasons 1–2. Only the colorized editions were released in regions 2 and 4.
On August 27, 2013, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Bewitched. They have subsequently re-released the first six seasons, with seasons 1 & 2 available only in their black and white versions.
On October 6, 2015, Mill Creek Entertainment re-released Bewitched- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. Special features were stripped from the release.
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