Bewitched: Questions That Have Bothered Me For Years
Sol Saks, creator, under executive director, Harry Ackerman must have known when their pet project, Bewitched first aired that they had a hit on their hands. I can recall how the morning talk shows (of that day) raved about the high ratings that were caused by the acting talents of Dick York, who portrayed "Darrin Stephens," a bachelor with a successful advertising position with "McMann and Tate" and on his way to the top. Then "Stephens" met "Samantha," a card-carrying witch. But unlike (the now-late) Margaret Hamilton, who was best known for The Wicked Witch of The West in the classic, Wizard of Oz, in 1939, "Sam," as "Darrin" called her later on, was good witch.
To complete this successful acting ensemble, there was Agnes Moorehead, who was "Endora," "Sam's" mother who (at first) did not show any outward love toward "Darrin" marrying her daughter then living in the suburbs and "Sam" not using her witching powers. Putting myself in "Endora's" place, I would agree with her disgust at this foolish wish of "Darrin,"the mortal.
In Contrast Between
Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, the original series, shot entirely in black and white, ran for five seasons from 1959 to 1964. And ABC Television's Bewitched broadcast for eight seasons from September 17, 1964, to March 25, 1972 and any true television viewer could see right-off that there were similarities between these two somewhat-groundbreaking shows that pretty much dominated the ratings during their hey day.
Twilight Zone had many magical illusions that Serling installed with his superb writing talent, but the viewer had to think about what his outcome would be at each episode's end. With Bewitched, viewers knew right away what trick "Sam," "Endora," "Uncle Arthur" (Paul Lynde), "Cousin Serrena," (also played by Elizabeth Montgomery), and "Sam's" father, the completely-proper Maurice Evans (also a staunch Shakespearean expert). This casting for Bewitched proved to be the perfect formula for making a new and unheard of sitcom until then.
But with most sitcoms or drama's, there has to be that one actor who later on finds out that his or her role was not all that it was cracked up to be. So was the role that Dick York played as "Darrin" and it would be said later by York that he wanted to leave Bewitched, not for a hefty raise, but because he was weary of playing "second fiddle" to "Samantha's" broom. Any husband could relate to this special marriage--especially when the wife is more successful, popular and/or makes more money. It was a classic case of a bruised ego. That's all.
So with York not resigning his contract to be "Darrin" for another season, Dick Sargent became the new "Darrin," and like most successful sitcoms, dramas, and even marriages, this was the beginning of the end for Bewitched.
Sargent's "special timing," William Asher, producer and (once married to Elizabeth Montgomery) said, was not as sharp as York, but the contracts were signed and sponsors lined up and it was time for Bewitched to have a new straight man with Sargent calling fowl to "Endora's" every sneaky spell.
Who Was Your Favorite Character on Bewitched?
Now With The History of Bewitched
being published, I want to right now, do to Bewitched what I did with MARVEL COMICS' The Incredible Hulk and ask a few tough questions about this beautiful, nose-twitcher, "Samantha," and her hubby, "Darrin," and get your input as well. As television viewers, we are all in this together.
- An Observation: In my honest opinion, "Darrin Stephens" was pretty much an idiot. Yes, I know. This is harsh, but truth is the truth. But to understand my views on Bewitched, you have to do what I did and put myself in "Darrin's" shoes. Now in "Darrin's" time, our economy was not that shaky as it is in 2017, but if it had been, I would have been way more tolerant about "Sam" using her powers that she received from birth. In fact, I hold a sharp resentment (even today) for Sol Saks, the executive creator of the show for having the writers to stifle "Sam's" powers that she only used for good, not selfish means. I know what "Darrin's" problem was: ego. A huge, fragile ego and being mortal it makes sense (in real life) when the wife has more going on at her job than just a title. If "Darrin" had just told "Sam" to use her natural powers all that she wanted, "Endora," "Sam's" mother would not have cast any hilarious spells on "Darrin."
- Another Observation: remembering practical prank-pulling,, "Uncle Arthur," played by Paul Lynde, (whom I loved), why was "Darrin" so guillible as to believe that several pranks that already been pullled on him, sowhy didn't he just balk and not participate in "Arthur's" pranks?
- Do you recall when Shakespearean expert, Maurice Evans starred on Bewitched as "Samantha's" dad? Well there again, I feel that if "Darrin" would have made an effort to like "Sam's" dad, "Darrin's" marriage would have been a whole lot smoother?
- Do you also recall that on almost every episode of Bewitched had "Darrin" coming up with some catchy slogan to impress a high-dollar client that his boss, "Larry Tate," portrayed by David White? If I had been where "Darrin" was, hey, I would just ask "Sam" to help me with some creative power and help me design an ad campaign that this big client would love. Now I think that you see why I think that "Darrin" was an idiot for men who are too prideful are idiots for the wrong type of pride never made any man successful. And "Darrin" (at times) was that type of guy.
- I secretly wondered why David "Larry Tate" White, was arguably, the "Master Yes-Man," because with every important ad client that "Darrin" (and "Tate") were to meet at some club and drink martini's and hear "Darrin's" sales pitch--now get this. You could set your clocks by each time the client leaned toward not approving the pitch, "Tate" agreed with him. And if the client were to love "Darrin's" ad campaign, "Tate" did also. I am just saying and yes, it is too late, why didn't the writers let "Darrin" (sometimes) be his own man and not bow down to "Tate."
- See if you agree with this question: Was "Darrin Stephens" a bit gun-shy, paranoid due to another "Endora" casting yet another scathing spell on him? I think that he was. Let me explain. When "Larry" would bring a potential client into "Darrin's" office, but turns out, the client was a gorgeous woman who was so hot that you could strike matches on her figure. Then "Darrin" would go into a nervous frenzy thinking that the beautiful woman was in fact "Endora" or "Serrena" in disguise to make a fool out of "Darrin" to prove how weak he was as "Sam's" husband.
- Another Question: do you remember "Mrs. Kravitz?" (Alice Pearce). And how many times did she use that old "may I borrow a cup of sugar" gag? Well, at the same token, why didn't Bewitched writers maybe once or twice, tell this "Mrs. Kravitz," "Hey, lady. I know what you are all about. You are nothing but a busy-body and now get out. Got that?" I would have loved that.
- My Last Question: with "Samantha" being endowed (at birth) with an endless amount of powers, it would seem to me that even with "Darrin" being the tormented, spell-shy husband, with a little work from the writers, "Darrin" could have asked "Sam" to take her and him back in time to live one of their best days since their marriage. Yeah, I know about Base Time Continuum and if you go back in time and change just one event, you change your future, so I guess this one is out.
Say, "Sam," could you twitch your pretty little nose and present me with a clever ending?
© 2017 Kenneth Avery