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Bewitched - The Complete Second Season

Columbia/Tri-Star // Unrated // October 25, 2005
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted October 12, 2005 | E-mail the Author
(Note: A large percentage of what you'll find below has been re-printed from my review of Bewitched - Season 1, but not all of it. You'll just have to read it to find the new stuff!)

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 DVD collections of Bewitched, 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 Oh sure, you'll find a lot of outdated "wifey belongs in the kitchen" material scattered amidst the chuckles, but hey, society was just a little bit stupider in the mid-60's. Putting aside the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.) And Season 2 is where we got to meet Tabitha, the adorable offspring of witchy woman and mortal geek.

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.)

While it's certainly true that Bewitched's second season got a bit sillier than the initial season was (how many things can Darrin be turned into before he just loses his mind?), it's still a warm & comfy piece of TV nostalgia. Those who rushed out to the store to purchase the first season set should have no problem doling out another 25 smackers on the sophomore season set.

Those who hold this classic sitcom in high regard should absolutely consider this full Season 2 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 2 set in two separate packages (exactly like they did with Season 1). 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 Second Season includes the follwing episodes on five discs:

Disc 1

  • Alias Darrin Stephens - Learning she's going to have a baby, Samantha can't wait to tell Darrin, who's been missing ever since Aunt Clara turned him into a chimpanzee. (Original airdate: 9/16/65)
  • A Very Special Delivery – When she hears him ordering Samantha around the house, Endora casts a spell on Darrin so he'll know exactly what it's like to be expecting a baby. (9/23/65)
  • We're In For a Bad Spell – A Salem witch trial judge's descendant is doomed to be a thief, unless Samantha and Darrin can find a way to life a 200-year-old spell. (9/30/65)
  • My Grandson, The Warlock – Mistaking the Tates' baby for his grandson, Maurice whisks the boy to the London Warlocks Club to begin his training. (10/7/65)
  • The Joker Is a Card – A feuding Darrin and Endora accuse each other of being practical jokers, unaware that Uncle Arthur is the real culprit. (10/14/65)
  • Take Two Aspirins and Half a Pint of Porpoise Milk– Contact with a black Peruvian rose causes Samantha to lose her powers, so Darrin goes in search of the cure: a rare ostrich feather and four petals from the rose itself. (10/21/65)
  • Trick or Treat – When Darrin refuses to let Samantha go to a witches' Halloween ceremony, Endora turns him into a werewolf. (10/28/65)
  • The Very Informal Dress– Aunt Clara provides the Stephens with new clothes to wear at an important dinner party, clothing that begins to vanish soon after their arrival. (11/4/65)
  • And Then I Wrote – When Samantha writes a play celebrating the Civil War Centennial, she provides herself with a little inspiration by bringing her characters to life. (11/11/65)

Disc 2

  • Junior Executive – Wondering what her grandchild will look like, Endora turns Darrin into an 8-year-old boy. (11/18/65)
  • Aunt Clara's Old Flame – Her magical powers dimming with age, Aunt Clara's too embarrassed to meet an old beau until she learns he has the same problem. (11/25/65)
  • A Strange Little Visitor – A 10-year-old warlock holds to his promise not to use magic when a burglar overpowers Darrin and attempts to steal an expensive necklace. (12/2/65)
  • My Boss, The Teddy Bear – Certain Larry won't give him time off to attend an out-of-town wedding, Darrin believes a spiteful Endora has turned his boss into a teddy bear. (12/19/65)
  • Speak the Truth– To prove a point, Endora gives Darrin a statue that causes anyone who comes into contact with it to tell the truth. (12/16/65)
  • 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. (12/23/65 -- A "repeat" episode from season 1.)
  • The Magic Cabin– When the Stephens vacation at Larry's rundown cabin, Samantha uses her magic to turn the woodland shack into a luxurious dream house. (12/30/65)
  • Maid to Order – Believing the Stephens' new maid is a perfect wonder, Louise hires her to cater an important dinner party, unaware that the woman is a perfect klutz. (1/6/66)
  • And Then There Were Three– Samantha gives birth to a baby girl, whom Endora names Tabitha, against both her parents' wishes. (1/13/66)
Disc 3

  • My Baby, The Tycoon – When a share of stock given to Tabitha by Abner and Gladys rapidly rises in value, Darrin begins to believe his little girl may be a witch. (1/20/66)
  • 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. (1/27/66 -- another "repeat" episode from season 1.)
  • Fastest Gun on Madison Avenue – When a heavyweight contender makes a play for Samantha, Darrin magically knocks him out, causing the newspapers to hail him as an up-and-coming new champ. (2/3/66)
  • The Dancing Bear– When Endora and Darrin's mother each give Tabitha a teddy bear, Endora decides to uneven the odds by giving her toy the ability to dance. (2/10/66)
  • Double Tate – Unaware Endora's given him three wishes for his birthday, Darrin wishes he were Larry for a day and turns into an exact double of his boss. (2/17/66)
  • Samantha, The Dressmaker – Using her magic to recreate a dress design she saw in Paris, Samantha's fashions become all the rage ... until the real designer shows up. (2/24/66)
  • The Horse's Mouth – Samantha turns a runaway racehorse into an attractive woman to get the lowdown as to why she escaped her owner. (3/3/66)
  • Baby's First Paragraph – Tired of hearing how smart Gladys' baby nephew is, Endora uses witchcraft to make Tabitha talk, an act of vanity that makes its way into the local newspapers. (3/10/66)
  • The Leprechaun – Brian O'Brian, a leprechaun claiming to belong to Darrin's family, comes to America to get back his missing pot of gold. (3/17/66)
Disc 4

  • Double Split – When an accident breaks up Larry and Darrin's friendship, Samantha uses her magic to bring them back together. (3/24/66)
  • Disappearing Samantha – When Samantha uses her powers to embarrass a professional witch debunker, he employs a magic ring to make her disappear. (4/7/66)
  • Follow That Witch: Part One – Charlie Leach, a private detective hired to learn more about Darrin's home life, catches Samantha in the act of using her powers. (4/14/66)
  • Follow That Witch: Part Two – In exchange for his silence, Charlie Leach blackmails Samantha into making him a wealthy man, a decision he'll soon come to regret. (4/21/66)
  • A Bum Raps – Expecting Darrin's eccentric Uncle Albert, Samantha mistakenly welcomes Herbert, an ex-vaudevillian-turned-thief, into her home. (4/28/66)
  • Divided He Falls – When Darrin tells Samantha he can't go on vacation because he has to work, Endora turns him into twins: a dull workaholic and a fun-loving party animal. (5/5/66)
  • Man's Best Friend – Rodney, a neurotic warlock in love with Samantha, decides to break up her marriage by turning himself into the family dog. (5/12/66)
  • The Catnapper – Turned into a cat by Endora, Toni Devlin is stolen by Charlie Leach, who offers to return the tabby for a million dollars in cash. (5/19/66)
  • What Every Young Man Should Know – When Samantha and Darrin wonder if they'd have married if he knew she was a witch, Endora sends them back in time to find out. (5/26/66)
Disc 5

  • The Girl With the Golden Nose – Samantha decides to teach Darrin a lesson when he wrongly accuses her of using magic to make him a success at his job. (6/2/66)
  • Prodigy – A brilliant violinist, Gladys' brother Louis refuses to play in public, until Samantha uses her powers to change his mind. (6/9/66)

(I find it a little strange that Sony would opt to include a fifth disc for the final two episodes ... when two other episodes (one on disc 2 and another on disc 3) are simply repeats from season 1! Weird.)



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: On disc 5 you'll find a 7-minute featurette called Bewitched, Bewildered & Be-Bloopered (groan), which offers a colorized bunch of Bewitched blunders. You'll also find some trailers for Bewitched (the movie), The Partridge Family, Classic Comedy, Classic Urban TV Series, and I Dream of Jeannie.

Final Thoughts

I freely admit that I had a ball getting reacquainted with Sam, Darrin, Endora, and the rest of the original Bewitched gang during season 1, and while the follow-up collection isn't exactly as sharp, it's still full of old-fashioned sitcom fun. 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!

Just like the first DVD set, Bewitched – The Complete Second 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 5-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.

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Highly Recommended

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