Bewitched [1945]

Stars: Phyllis Thaxter, Edmund Gwenn, Henry H. Daniels Jr., Horace Mcnally, Minor Watson
Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 1 minutes

Usually in TV Land, the addition of a baby to an established sitcom is a signal to cue the sharks to jump. But domesticated witch Samantha's pregnancy, announced in the season-opener, "Alias Darrin Stephens," and the birth of Tabitha lent Bewitched even more magic. The second-highest-rated show in its first year, Bewitched enjoyed a charmed second season with the introduction of some of the series' most popular recurring characters, including a wickedly funny Paul Lynde as practical joker Uncle Arthur ("The Joker Is a Card," the classic episode with the faux incantation, "Yagazuzi, Yagazuzi, Yagazuzi Zim") and Elizabeth Montgomery's own sassy turn as Samantha's look-alike cousin, Sarina ("And Then There Were Three"). Mabel Albertson debuts as Darrin's mother, Phyllis "I have a sick headache" Stephens. Returning in their signature roles are Dick York (accept no substitutes) as Samantha's mortal husband, Darrin, Agnes Moorehead as Darrin's mother-in-law and nemesis, Endora (who share a sweet, albeit fleeting truce in "And Then There Were Three"), Emmy-winner Marion Lorne as dotty Aunt Clara, and David White as Darrin's ethically challenged boss, Larry Tate. Sadly, this would be Alice Pearce's last season as hysterical busybody neighbor Mrs. Kravitz (it would also be Bewitched's last season in black and white). Part of the fun of revisiting vintage television series is early appearances by now-famous actors. The episode "Man's Best Friend" features Richard Dreyfuss as "pushy, spoiled, neurotic brat" Rodney, a warlock who assumes canine form to break up the Stephens' marriage. Venerable character actors also conjure up their own thespian wizardry. The wonderful Eve Arden is a nurse who becomes undone by the supernatural goings-on when expectant mother Samantha is admitted to the hospital in "And Then There Were Three." Robert Strauss (Animal in Stalag 17 is a pesky private detective who discovers Samantha's secret in the two-parter "Follow That Witch." Charlie Ruggles (Bringing Up Baby is "Aunt Clara's Old Flame," and that's Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick) in the Halloween episode, "Trick or Treat," in which Endora disguises herself as a child to give Darrin a werewolf hex. But it's Elizabeth Montgomery, one of TV's goddesses, whose spell is everlasting. --Donald Liebenson

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