Bewitched-The Complete First Season (1964)
Featurette-The Magic Unveiled Part One
Featurette-The Magic Unveiled Part Two
Featurette-Magic And Mishaps
Trailer-Annie, Stuart Little
|Year Of Production||1964|
|Running Time||877:21 (Case: 917)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||
Alan Jay Factor
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Back in the mid 1960s, television had a fascination with what may be called "fantasy" comedies. This spawned a number of programmes that have become cult favourites and are now embedded in popular culture. Television classics such as The Addams Family, I Dream Of Jeannie, The Munsters and of course Bewitched, all having a supernatural or fantasy foundation, battled for ratings during this period.
Now, in the wake of its rebirth on the large screen, Sony has released a 4 disc set of the complete first season of Bewitched.
For those not familiar with this comedy gem from TV's more innocent age, Bewitched centres on the lives of newly-weds Darrin and Samantha Stephens. They are an average mid-1960s American couple. He is a successful advertising executive and she his stay-at-home wife. The only problem with their relationship is that Samantha is a witch, something she neglected to tell him prior to their wedding.
When Samanatha tells Darrin of her abilities, he is determined that they will be a "normal" couple and has Samanatha promise that magic will not play a part in their lives. Of course, it is never that simple. The show revolves around the clash of the mortal world and the world of witchcraft. Samantha's relatives, many of whom do not approve of "mixed marriages", bring situations that require Samantha's powers to resolve, and Samantha assists without Darrin's knowledge.
The show was enormously popular; it was a must see in my house during my childhood (I must stress that they were re-runs at that point); and its success is evident in that it is still in syndication more than 30 years after the last episode went to air.
The success was due to an excellent cast (the veteran actress Agnes Moorehead was inspired in her role of the meddling mother-in-law) and tight scripts, which were a little controversial at the time. This was the first TV series to show a married couple actually in the same bed and to portray a broken marriage (Samantha's mother and father were separated).
The special effects were, by the day's standard, very well done. People and objects appeared, disappeared and transformed into penguins or some other creature without CGI or other post-production trickery. There was a simple honesty in the effects that is often lost in today's computer generated anything-is-possible world.
This release is the complete 36 episodes of season one with the original Darrin, Dick York, who was replaced in season 6 by Dick Sargent due to a chronic back problem.
Episode 1: I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha (24:32)
Darrin marries Samantha, the girl of his dreams, only to discover after the wedding she is a witch. Samantha uses her powers to good effect when she is belittled at a dinner party hosted by one of Darrin's old girlfriends.
Episode 2: Be It Ever So Mortgaged (24:31)
Darrin and Samantha buy a new house, and the local busy-body neighbour is confused at some of the happenings when Samantha and her mother try a little magic to redecorate.
Episode 3: It Shouldn't Happen To A Dog (24:30)
One of Darrin's clients attends a dinner party at the Stephen's house and Samantha turns him into a dog when he makes a pass at her.
Episode 4: Mother, Meet What's His Name (24:29)
Darrin meets Samantha's mother, Endora, for the first time. Endora disapproves of her daughter's marriage to a mortal and things do not go smoothly for Darrin.
Episode 5: Help, Help, Don't Save Me (24:29)
Darrin gets upset when he thinks Samantha used magic to help him win an advertising contract.
Episode 6: Little Pitchers Have Big Fears (24:30)
Samantha interferes to help a neighbourhood boy with an over-protective mother join the local baseball team. June Lockhardt (later to star in Lost In Space) plays the boy's mother.
Episode 7: The Witches Are Out (24:30)
Samantha and her aunts protest the traditional image of witches and Darrin is caught in the middle when he uses that image in a Halloween advertising campaign.
Episode 8: Witch Or Wife? (24:28)
When Darrin has to work late, Samantha and Endora "pop over" to Paris for lunch. Things get a little complicated when they bump into Darrin's boss, Larry, at the restaurant. Try spotting a very young Raquel Welch in a cameo role.
Episode 9: The Girl Reporter (24:31)
A very attractive senior high school girl interviews Darrin for her school paper and takes more than a professional interest in him.
Episode 10: Just One Happy Family (24:32)
Samantha's father arrives unexpectedly and is angry when he learns that his daughter has married a mortal.
Episode 11: It Takes One To Know One (24:31)
Darrin has to spend time with a very attractive model he is using in an advertising campaign. Endora is suspicious but Samantha defends him. When Samantha meets the model she becomes aware of a plot and must intervene.
Episode 12: ... And Something Makes Three (24:29)
Larry's wife, Louise, is pregnant but has not had the courage to tell him. Larry sees Louise and Samantha going into an obstetrician's office and he assumes Samantha is having a baby. When Larry tells Darrin, Darrin has images of a future as the father of magical children.
Episode 13: Love Is Blind (24:28)
Holy matrimony! TV's Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Kermit, one of Darrin's work friends. When Samantha arranges for Kermit to meet a single friend, Gertrude, and they soon plan to marry, Darrin suspects there may be witchcraft involved.
Episode 14: Samantha Meets The Folks (24:30)
Darrin's parents arrive for the weekend to meet Samantha for the first time. Samantha's Aunt Clara unexpectedly arrives at the same time.
Episode 15: A Vision Of Sugar Plums (24:30)
Darrin and Samantha take a boy from the orphanage home to spend Christmas with them. When Samantha discovers he does not believe in Santa Claus, she determines to convince him Santa is real. Billy Mumy, later to be Will Robinson on Lost In Space, guest stars as the orphan.
Episode 16: It's Magic (24:29)
Samantha helps a washed up magician by employing him to do a charity show, then helps ensure his tricks don't fail to impress.
Episode 17: A Is For Aardvark (24:28 )
Darrin is laid up with a sprained ankle. So she doesn't have to run up and down the stairs all day to bring him things, Samantha convinces Darrin to let her get the house to "co-operate" with him. Darrin becomes obsessed with the power and decides magic can make all their dreams come true now.
Episode 18: The Cat's Meow (24:28)
Darrin has to travel to Chicago at short notice to meet with an attractive female client. Samantha promises not to follow him, but when a stray cat suddenly arrives, Darrin is convinced Samantha is spying on him.
Episode 19: A Nice Little Dinner Party (24:29)
Samantha invites Darrin's parents over to a dinner party to meet her mother. When Darrin's father and Endora seem to get along too well, divorce is in the air. Samantha and Endora must help bring Darrin's parents back together.
Episode 20: Your Witch Is Showing (24:30)
Darrin is given an assistant at the office, and it soon becomes apparent he is trying to take Darrin's job. When the assistant's ideas start to look too much like Darrin's for coincidence, Darrin suspects witchcraft may be involved.
Episode 21: Ling Ling (24:29)
Samantha changes a Siamese cat into an Oriental beauty named Ling Ling to help Darrin find the ideal model for an advertising campaign. All goes well until the photographer falls in love with Ling Ling. Darrin and Samantha try to stop the romance so Ling Ling can be changed back into a cat.
Episode 22: Eye Of The Beholder (24:30)
Endora lets Darrin find a picture of Samantha that implies she is over 400 years old. Discovering that witches live for centuries, he worries that Samantha will not love him as he grows old and she doesn't age.
Episode 23: Red Light, Green Light (24:34)
A busy intersection near the Stephens' house needs traffic lights. A local meeting is called to convince the Mayor to install lights, but he is unconvinced until Samantha magically causes him to be caught in a traffic jam.
Episode 24: Which Witch Is Which (24:30)
Samantha needs to be in two places at once so Endora makes herself look like Samantha and goes to Samantha's dress fitting for her. On the way she meets an author who is smitten by Endora-Samantha. Confusion begins when a neighbour sees "Samantha" having an intimate lunch with the author.
Episode 25: Pleasure O'Riley (24:32)
A gorgeous single woman moves in next door to the Stephens and causes a stir when a former boyfriend who has threatened her arrives. Darrin and Samantha find themselves in the middle of the dispute.
Episode 26: Driving Is The Only Way To Fly (24:20)
Darrin's attempt at teaching Samantha to drive ends in an argument so a driving school is engaged. The driving instructor is nervous enough, but when Endora "plays" with him he panics and gets fired. Samantha must save the instructor's career.
Episode 27: There's No Witch Like An Old Witch (24:32)
Samantha's Aunt Clara is old and can no longer cast spells properly. She stays with Darrin and Samantha for a few days and becomes a hit with the neighbourhood as a baby sitter - until the children start to tell their parents about her magic tricks.
Episode 28: Open The Door, Witchcraft (24:35)
Nosy neighbour Gladys Kravits sees Samantha open the garage door by magic, so Darrin has an automatic door installed to remove her suspicions. A malfunction with the door causes it to open at random times, and Darrin blames Samantha's witchcraft.
Episode 29: Abner Kadabra (24:32)
Gladys discovers Samantha hanging pictures using magic, so Samantha convinces Gladys that she has ESP. Convinced of this, Gladys becomes obsessed with proving her special abilities and Samantha has to put things back to normal.
Episode 30: George The Warlock (24:33)
A beautiful new neighbour moves in next door and Darrin spends a Sunday helping, making Samantha feels neglected. Endora sends one of Samantha's former boyfriends, a warlock named George, to rescue her, but George falls for the neighbour.
Episode 31: That Was My Wife (24:33)
Samantha tries a new hair colour. Larry sees Darrin meeting the new look Samantha and, not recognising her, assumes Darrin is having an affair.
Episode 32: Illegal Separation (24:30)
The Stephens get an unexpected guest when their neighbours, the Kravits, separate and Abner Kravits stays in their guest room. Unable to tolerate too many days of Abner, Samantha tries to reunite the couple.
Episode 33: A Change Of Face (24:22)
Darrin becomes concerned about his looks after Endora and Samantha alter his face while he sleeps. Samantha disguises herself as another woman to help build Darrin's self esteem, but it almost backfires.
Episode 34: Remember The Main (24:29)
Samantha and Darrin get involved in local politics trying to get a corrupt councillor voted out. It seems the councillor has managed to hide his shady dealings until Endora decides to help out.
Episode 35: Eat At Mario's (24:31)
Samantha and Endora decide to help a struggling Italian restaurant by providing a little magical advertising. Their campaign is so successful it causes Darrin's new, rival account to want to change agencies. Samantha and Endora now have to win Darrin's client back for him.
Episode 36: Cousin Edgar (24:22)
Samantha's cousin Edgar arrives to save her from marriage to a mortal. Darrin is made to look inept and clumsy, and is in danger of losing a large account because of Edgar's mischief. One of the funniest episodes of the series.
The series is presented at 1.33:1, which is the original aspect ratio.
The big disappointment with this transfer is that it has been colourised. If you've read my bio you will know I'm no fan of colourisation or other "enhancements" that are more than a straight restoration. "Improving" a film or TV show in this manner is really just artistic vandalism which ruins the original feel and the nostalgia of the film.
The first two series of Bewitched were filmed in Black and White, and that's how I prefer to view them. At least in Region 1 they have released two versions of the series, a colourised version and a Black and White version, so you have the choice; but here we are offered only the unauthentic version.
Having got that off my chest, the colourisation effort is one of the better ones I've seen. It still displays some of the strange errors that the colourisation process can produce; particularly people's mouths where the teeth and tongue are not coloured quite right and have a muddy half-colour / half-Black and White look in some shots that is a bit offputting. Aside from this there is nothing too hideous with the colourisation process, although consistency can be a little variable.
Colourisation aside, the transfer is reasonable with only a few film artefacts evident. The worst examples are scratches that are present through some episodes, most noticeably Episode 1 where a fine scratch runs down the middle of the screen for almost the entire episode.
Sharpness is variable. While 1960s television is never going to be as sharp as a modern 70mm film, the video here tends to swing from fairly sharp to quite soft as the camera angle changes. In addition, at 13:01 in episode 14 the image goes completely out of focus for 10 seconds. For a moment I thought my eyesight had finally given out.
If only the time spent with the coloured crayons was used to do a decent restoration, I'd be a much happier reviewer.
There is some minor MPEG blocking, probably due to the low bit rate of around 4 Mbps; not enough to ruin the viewing but just enough to give the backgrounds a slight grainy look. In all, this is a reasonable transfer for a 1964 TV series, but by no means perfect.
Audio is displayed as Dolby Digital 2.0, but in reality is mono, as you would expect from the era. There are no problems with the sound. Dialogue is clear and the audio track is free from hiss, pops and other nasties.
|Surround Channel Use|
A few extras are offered and they are spread across the four discs.
Writer Herbie Pilato and Director / Producer William Asher (who was Elizabeth Montgomery's husband at the time) discuss how the show was conceived, what made it successful and how it broke new ground in television.
Part two of the Pilato and Asher discussion.
A series of out-takes and goofs, usually to do with props or continuity, with one of the most irritating voice-overs ever recorded. These are not particularly funny and not really worth the effort.
Trailers for the films Annie (3:30) and Stuart Little (2:28).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Region 1 content appears to be the same as Region 4 but, since Region 1 at least allows the option of seeing this in its original Black and White glory, I'd have to make Region 1 the winner here.
Viewing Bewitched again was a nice visit back to TV's age of innocence. Anyone who remembers this era will probably enjoy this collection, and those that don't remember the era may discover that not everything pre-1980 is worthless. Yes, the lifestyles seem anachronistic - dare one say sexist - by today's standards, and the fashions are... interesting to say the least, but it reflects the styles and attitudes of the era and is a great time-capsule for social studies.
If only they spared us the colourisation and did a full restoration so we could see it as it was meant to be. Instead, we get fake colours, film artefacts and variable sharpness. Still, it is pleasant viewing for a wet, lazy Saturday when you just want to sit back and have some light entertainment.
Video is fair to good.
Audio is adequate.
Extras are uninspiring.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-1200Y, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig M84-210 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Richter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer|