Once upon a time, an All American girl kept bumping into an All American boy. And bumping. And bumping. So he asked her out, and she accepted. They fell in love, got married, and in the second season, had a baby (actually, they had 2). Except this girl happened to be a witch.
This was the premise for the beloved iconic 1960's television series, Bewitched. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as the beautiful witch who fell in love with an marred a mortal, Dick York (in the first 5 seasons) as the young mortal Darrin Stevens, an advertising executive, who became her husband, the marvellous Agnes Moorehead (dig her hair and eye shadow!) as Sam's upset mother, and their best friends (and Darrin's boss and his wife) Larry and Louse Tate (played by David white and Irene Vernon). Sam wishes to fit into the human world and help Darrin live his ordinary life the same as any other man, but she simply finds it difficult to not twitch her nose and unbreak casserole dishes, or get a little help hanging pictures, and "unimportant" things such as that. Unimportant except for the fact every neighbourhood has at least ONE nosy housewife, and hers lives across the street.....Gladys Kravitz (played by Alice Pearce). Gladys is always trying to get the law, various politicians, neighbours, and her long suffering husband, Abner (George Tobias) to believe the bizarre things she sees.
This television series was groundbreaking. It not only was Samantha the first TV character to have divorced parents, but it was also the show that brought the occult into the mainstream with witches as likeable characters. Later TV shows through the decades owe a lot to this series, and indeed, Charmed even paid homage to it and its '60's sensibilities in an episode.
This box set is for series 1. We get to see Sam and Darrin meet, Darrin meets Endora, they marry and set up house (Sam is a housewife with all that that entails) and so on. It sets the tone for the remainder of the series. It is television you can watch with your children and everyone be entertained, though some things you see you may need to chat with younger children about later. By this, I am referring to smoking. If your child knows smokers, they will already understand about smoking. My children do not know any smokers, and only know about it from stop smoking advertisements, so were quite shocked to see people lighting up. This actually had an advantage; I was able to explain about advertisements that tricked people into thinking it was a good thing to do, and harmless, and so on so that my children could see that smoking was seen as a very normal and even helpful (calming the nerves sort of thing) to do. (No offence meant to any smokers out there.) None of the plotlines involve anything even the youngest child should not see, and even my 3 year old appreciates the humour displayed and laughs out loud while sitting rapturously. The special effects are pretty good, though some are a bit dated, but it WAS 1964.
I should also mention that this particular set is the ONLY set sold here in the UK and it is colourised. It is done quite well, though we did notice in one episode that Endora's coat changed from black to navy blue to black to nay blue from frame to frame in close-ups, which while not the end of the world, was noticeable. I am a purist though, and as we have a multiregion player, so after watching the rental copy, we ordered the set from Amazon's US site (got to love the exchange rate!) and ordered the first season in its original black and white. Being in black and white did not diminish the viewability and the children were intrigued at the fact TV's did not have colour originally.
So if you are looking for good old fashioned viewing that you can relax and laugh with, this is a fantastic choice. Especially if you are like us, with a young family, and despair at the lack of good programming for the entire family in the evenings before children's bedtimes. If you enjoy family comedy viewing, may I also suggest The Andy Griffith Show if you have a multiregion player. It is another classic gem.
I should add that the box set does not have a lot of extras. The full screen (it WAS TV after all) prints were wonderfully remastered, and also has featurettes on "How the Magic was made" as well as a blooper reel and a theatrical trailer for the Bewitched movie with Nicole Kidman. Sadly, as Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York, and several other cast members have all died, it does not have any interviews from the original stars. Perhaps one day they will uncover old interviews from the original airdate periods, and can put them on.
I have had a few people say they feel it is dated in that Sam is thrilled to be a housewife. I have to say that myself, and several of my friends, do not feel this way.because if you look at the situation from Sam's point of view, in that she WANTS to stay home and raise a family and all that entails as a stay at home wife and mother, I think you will appreciate the series more. Indeed, from a modern 30 something female point of view, I rather like the balance it strikes in portraying women. You have women who are supported in their desire to be homemakers and who take pride in their career choice (anyone can tell you that it is truly a full time job!) as well as career women. These career women are from all over the spectrum, from waitresses to secretaries, to high powered executives, and all in positive lights, making this show truly groundbreaking for yet another reason.