DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bewitched - The Complete First Season
Bewitched - The Complete First Season
Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // June 21, 2005
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted June 17, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The Series

I have a lot of fond Bewitched memories from my long-ago childhood days of watching TV in huge, 4-hour blocks. Like just about every male person of my approximate age, I fostered a deep crush for Ms. Elizabeth Montgomery, and I had a ball with all the nifty little tricks that she could do as a domestic housewife witch-woman. So when I sat down to dig through Sony's 4-disc set of Bewitched's first season, I found myself a little bit psyched – and a little bit worried.

Keep in mind that, in addition to Bewitched, I also grow up in love with sitcoms like Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres, and The Brady Bunch -- programs I now consider somewhat painful to watch. I was worried that seeing Bewitched through my now-(somewhat)-grown-up eyeballs would take a little luster off of the series, and that my now-inescapable cynicism would have me reaching for the STOP button within half an hour.

I needn't have worried, because Bewitched is as charming, amusing, and quaintly adorable as it's ever been. Oh sure, you'll find a lot of outdated "wifey belongs in the kitchen" material scattered amidst the chuckles, but hey, society was just a little bit stupider in the mid-60's. Putting aside the antiquated, yet never overtly off-putting, sexual politics aside, Bewitched is basically as sweet as an old sitcom gets.

Plus Elizabeth Montgomery, now forever immortalized on DVD, is just as beautiful as I remembered.

The plot is precisely as you remember, and if you're a newcomer to Bewitched, then the plot is simplicity itself: Darrin Stephens is a hot-shot advertising exec and newlywed husband to Samantha. And Samantha is, of course, a witch. A pretty, young blonde witch who promises her new husband that she'll absolutely try to curtail her nifty witchcraft practices – a promise that, of course, manages to get broken in each and every episode.

There's a colorful menagerie of supporting characters that continue to pop up throughout the first season's festivities: nosy next-door neighbor Gladys Kravitz and her long-suffering husband Abner, Darrin's likable boss, Larry Tate, Samantha's goofy old Aunt Clara … and then there's mother-in-law Endora. A true royal witch if ever there was one, Endora is constantly at odds with her daughter's befuddled husband and perpetually causing some sort of static in the Stephens household. (Agnes Moorehead is quite simply hilarious as Endora, stealing almost every episode she appears in.)

One might suspect that a TV series beholden to one relatively clever gimmick – Samantha's witchery and the silly old tricks she's always playing – would lean on that gimmick to a desperate degree. But this is where Bewitched transcends simple silliness. You'll find as much wit and good cheer from the simple dialogue and acting performances than you will from the antiquated-yet-still-effective special effects showcases. Bewitched is a warm and witty series, and one that holds just as many giggles today as it did during its 1964 debut. The witch-tricks might have been enough to entertain me as a 7-year-old, but it's the good humor of the material, and the effortlessly charming performances by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York, that I found most entertaining as a crusty ol' 30+-year-old.

But that's not to say that Bewitched is nothing but tasty fluff. Believe it or not, this is a series that actually blazed a few trails in its day: Darrin & Samantha were among the first TV spouses to share a single bed, Endora and her estranged husband were clearly divorced (or at least separated), the idea of Sam & Darrin being a "mixed" couple raised its head a few times, and there's one Halloween episode that displays a lot of insight into the way in which those who are "different" are often categorized in horribly stereotypical ways. (Anyone out there think that Samantha Stephens looks like your typical wart-nosed, hunch-backed, cauldron crone? Didn't think so.)

Those who hold this classic sitcom in high regard should absolutely consider this full Season 1 set a must-own. But you might want to double-check the DVD case before making your purchase; in an effort to appease the folks who like to see classic artworks molested in the name of simple commerce, Sony has decided to release the Bewitched Season 1 set in two separate packages. Both releases are nearly identical in every way – but one set is presented in the original black & white, while another has been "colorized" for your convenience.

And perhaps I'm just a snooty old purist, but colorization pretty much – well, sucks is what it does. While it's true that the technologies used to colorize an old TV program have improved drastically over the years (anyone see Ted Turner's old colorization of King Kong? Yeesh.), there's just no getting around the fact that it just seems … kinda … off. But I suspect I'm probably preaching to the choir here; anyone who truly admires this great old sitcom will undoubtedly want to own Bewitched in its original broadcast format. And the more B/W versions that are sold, the more the message will be made clear to the powers-that-be: a sincere round of thanks for delivering Bewitched in fine DVD form, but next time … don't even bother with the colorization gimmick.

Bewitched - The Complete First Season includes the follwing episodes on four discs:

Disc 1

  • I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha – Despite a wedding night promise to never practice witchcraft, Samantha uses her powers to teach Darrin's nasty ex-girlfriend a lesson in manners. Nancy Kovack guest stars. (Original airdate: 9/17/64)
  • Be it Ever So Mortgaged – When Samantha uses witchcraft to bring her new home up to snuff, nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz becomes a shocked, hysterical witness to Sam's random acts of magic. (9/24/64)
  • It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog – When Darrin's drunken client makes a pass at Samantha, she decides to teach him a lesson by turning him into a dog. Jack Warden guest stars. (10/8/64)*
  • Mother Meets What's His Name – Darrin meets his mother-in-law Endora for the first time and, after a heated argument, narrowly escapes from being turned into an artichoke. (10/1/64)*
  • Help, Help, Don't Save Me – When Samantha suggests the perfect slogans for his client's soup campaign, Darrin suspects witchcraft, an accusation that leads to Sam's packing up and leaving. Charlie Ruggles guest stars. (10/15/64)
  • Little Pitchers Have Big Fears – To help a 10-year-old boy gain self-confidence, Samantha uses her magic powers to turn him into the local Junior Baseball League's star player. June Lockhart guest stars. (10/22/64)
  • The Witches Are Out – When Darrin's fired for refusing to use an ugly witch in a Halloween candy campaign, Samantha and Aunt Clara get even by turning his client into an old crone. Shelly Berman guest stars. (10/29/64)
  • Witch or Wife – With her husband working overtime, a bored Samantha decides to have lunch in Paris, an act of witchery that convinces Darrin she may be happier without him. Raquel Welch appears as a stewardess. (11/12/64)*
  • The Girl Reporter – When teenage reporter Liza Randall interviews Darrin for her school paper, it arouses the jealousy of "Monster," her football-star boyfriend. Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge guest stars. (11/5/64)*
(*It seems that some of the disc 1 episodes are presented out of broadcast order. Probably not that big a deal, but interesting nonetheless. Or my research could be off; let me know if that's the case.)

Disc 2

  • Just One Happy Family – Darrin finally meets Victor, Samantha's warlock father, who, disapproving of his daughter's marriage to a mortal, simply makes his son-in-law disappear. Maurice Evans guest stars. (11/19/64)
  • It Takes One to Know One – When Darrin begins searching for a beautiful model to play "Miss Jasmine," Endora, seeing it as a perfect opportunity to break up his marriage, sends a gorgeous witch to seduce him. (11/26/64)
  • …And Something Makes Three – Larry sees Louise and Samantha entering an obstetrician's office and concludes Darrin's about to become a father, not realizing that it's his own wife who's expecting. (12/3/64)
  • Love is Blind – Believing Samantha's plain-looking girlfriend Gertrude is a witch, Darrin tries to break up her budding romance with Kermit, a handsome young artist. Adam West guest stars. (12/10/64)
  • Samantha Meets the Folks – Mother Stephens feels pushed aside when Samantha serves her in-laws a magnificent dinner, unaware it was Aunt Clara's witchcraft that whipped up the feast. (12/17/64)
  • A Vision of Sugar Plums – When Samantha learns that Michael, a six-year-old orphan, doesn't believe in Santa Claus, she takes the boy on a magical visit to the North Pole. Billy Mumy and Cecil Kellaway guest star. (12/24/64)
  • It's Magic – Samantha hires Zeno the Great to perform at a charity bazaar and takes over the role of his assistant in an effort to help the broken-down magician win back his self-confidence. (1/7/65)
  • A is for Aardvark – When an ankle injury confines him to bed, Samantha gives Darrin magic powers so he can wait upon himself, a privilege he promptly abuses. Directed by Ida Lupino. (1/14/65)
  • The Cat's Meow – Accompanying a gorgeous client to Chicago, Darrin begins to act strangely when he suspects that her cat is actually a suspicious Samantha in disguise. Martha Hyer guest stars. (1/21/65)
Disc 3

  • A Nice Little Dinner Party – Promising to behave when she meets Darrin's parents, Endora turns on the charm and is promptly accused by a jealous Mother Stephens of trying to steal her husband's affections. (1/28/65)
  • Your Witch is Showing – When Darrin is saddled with an unwanted assistant, he becomes suspicious that the aggressive young man is actually a warlock sent by Endora to ruin his career. Peggy Lipton appears as a secretary. (2/4/65)
  • Ling Ling – To help Darrin find the perfect model for his "Jewel of the East" campaign, Samantha turns an ordinary housecat into a fetching Oriental siren named Ling Ling. (2/11/65)
  • Eye of the Beholder – "Maid of Salem," a 300-year-old painting that bears a striking resemblance to Samantha, causes Darrin to question his own mortality. (2/25/65)
  • Red Light, Green Light – Despite his constituents' request that he install a traffic light at busy Morning Glory Circle, the mayor refuses – until Samantha magically convinces him of the error of his ways. Vic Tayback appears as a chauffeur. (3/4/65)
  • Which Witch is Which? – To assist her daughter in a dress fitting, Endora transforms herself into a double of Samantha and soon becomes a smitten young writer's object of desire. (3/11/65)
  • Pleasure O'Riley – When drop-dead gorgeous model Pleasure O'Riley moves to Morning Glory Circle, her insanely jealous boyfriend suspects Darrin and Abner of being the new men in her life. (3/18/65)
  • Driving is the Only Way to Fly – Samantha enrolls in driving school and is saddled with a nervous wreck as her instructor. Paul Lynde guest stars. (3/25/65)
  • There's No Witch Like an Old Witch – Aunt Clara's magic tricks make her a huge success as a babysitter until her claims of being a witch put her in front of a judge. (4/1/65)
Disc 4

  • Open the Door, Witchcraft – When Samantha uses her magic powers to open the garage door, Darrin makes her promise never to do it again, until they're both locked inside with Sam refusing to break her vow. (4/8/65)
  • Abner Kadabra – Convinced she has magic powers, Gladys – with Samantha's assistance – turns Abner into a pile of ashes. (4/15/65)
  • George the Warlock – When Darrin spends a little too much time with his beautiful next-door neighbor, Endora arranges for a handsome warlock to woo Samantha. Beverly Adams and Christopher George guest star. (4/22/65)
  • That Was My Wife – Larry believes Darrin is having an affair with Louise, not realizing that the brunette he saw him embracing was Samantha in a dark brown wig. (4/29/65)
  • Illegal Separation – After Gladys kicks him out, Abner decides to become the Stephens' permanent houseguest – until Samantha uses her powers to reunite the bickering couple. (5/6/65)
  • A Change of Face – When Endora uses witchcraft to "improve" Darrin's face, Samantha disguises herself as a sexy French sculptress to help repair her husband's tattered ego. (5/13/65)
  • Remember the Main – Darrin blames Samantha for his backing the wrong city council candidate, until a broken water main proves he made the right decision after all. (5/20/65)
  • Eat at Mario's – Samantha uses witchcraft to help promote Mario's restaurant, an act of kindness that backfires when his competitor resigns from Darrin's firm to go with Sam's "agency." (5/27/65)
  • Cousin Edgar – Although Darrin suspects it's Endora who's using magic to break up his marriage, it's really Samantha's cousin Edgar, an elf who doesn't want her married to a mortal either. Arte Johnson guest stars. (6/3/65)
The DVD

Video

The B & W release - The episodes are presented in their original fullscreen (1.33:1) format, and they clearly look a whole lot better than they did on the after-school UHF reruns! Heck, I'd bet they look crisper and cleaner than did during the original broadcasts! You'll still notice a few flecks on the prints, but they don't come close to marring the presentation in any noteworthy way.

The Color release - Ah, the irony. To colorize a TV show in the hopes of appealing to a more "modern" audience ... yet the color gimmick looks pretty darn awful. Remnants of Ted Turner's "colorize the world" campaign from several years back, these fuzzy and pastel displays are more distracting than anything. Every character onscreen seems to share the exact same flesh pigment, the Stephens home looks like a giant dollhouse, and several of the stock backgrounds belie the original black & white presentation:

I mean ... just look at that. Yuck! And on top of all that, the colorization method seems to add a filmy layer over the whole of each episode. It's just a bit grainer, tackier, and less pleasurable to the eyes. Trust me, if you're a fan, you really do want the black & white collection.

Audio: It's just a Dolby Digital 1.0 track, but the sound is pretty darn pristine for a series that's over 40 years old. Dialogue is audibly clear, as are the silly little musical cues and the omnipresent and ever-appreciative laugh track chortles.

Somewhat disconcerting is that fact that Sony opted to include a few extra audio tracks and subtitles within the color release -- but not the black & white. If you want to enjoy Bewitched in its original broadcast form, you can do so with optional English captions. But if you purchase the color version, you have the availability of Spanish & Portuguese audio tracks and subtitles in Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and Thai. Why these options are not available on both releases is quite a mystery. No, I don't exactly need subtitles in Thai, but why would they be included in one package and not the other?

Extras: There's a 2-part retrospective featurette entitled The Magic Unveiled that should please the Bewitched faithful. It only runs about fifteen minutes (and is strangely broken into two pieces: part 1 on disc 1, part 2 on disc 2), but offers a good deal of Bewitched-related information and trivia. Participants include Herbie Pilato (author of "Bewitched Forever"), producer/director William Asher, Bewitched expert Mark Wood, and actresses Kasey Rogers & Erin Murphy.

(Note: The featurettes seem to be identical on both releases; the Bewitched clips that are shown amidst the interview segments are in the original black & white, regardless of which package you own.)

Disc 3's Magic and Mishaps is an 8-minute treat that focuses on several technical blunders that somehow made it to the airwaves, plus a look at all the surprising cameo appearances found within Bewitched's first season. On Disc 4 you'll find a collection of trailers for Bewitched (the new-fangled Kidman version), The Partridge Family – The Complete First Season, The Brooke Ellison Story, and D.E.B.S. (which is about lesbian spy-girls and therefore isn't exactly shooting for the Bewitched demographic … but whatever.)

Final Thoughts

I freely admit that I had a ball getting reacquainted with Sam, Darrin, Endora, and the rest of the original Bewitched gang. I'd even go as far as saying that of all the classic old 60's sitcoms, this one still holds up among the very best. Yes, some of the seriously outdated "a woman's place is in the home" perspectives might have you chuckling in disbelief, but Bewitched has such a sunny disposition and warm veneer – it's tough to get really offended by the time-capsule silliness. Plus, hell, the wife is a WITCH (and the star of the show), so it's not like she's the victim here! Also, Sam's no dummy: she knows how to use that witchcraft when hubby's not looking – thereby allowing him to think he's the boss … while she knows who is!

Bewitched – The Complete First Season easily earns our Highly Recommended rating, thanks to a series that offers just as many good, goofy laughs as it did when you were seven years old. Fans of classic sitcom material should consider this 4-disc set a must-own … but please -- just stay away from the colorized version.

A classic series like Bewitched doesn't need an extra coat of pastel-plated paint to make it worth watching.

Popular Reviews
1. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
2. Fargo: Remastered Edition
3. King Kong Escapes
4. Criminal Minds: The Eighth Season
5. Equus
6. Ride Along
7. Little House on the Prairie - Season One & The Pilot Movie
8. Demons
9. Star Trek: Enterprise - Season Four
10. Betty Boop: The Essential Collection, Volume 3


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use