Reviews

Bewitched: The Complete Eighth and Final Season

This was the fantasy and faerie tale of instant gratification being hidden, and none too well, in the suburban girl next door.


Bewitched

Distributor: Sony Pictures
Cast: Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick Sargent, Agnes Moorehead
Network: ABC
DVD:Bewitched: The Complete Eighth & Final Season
US Release Date: 2009-07-14
Amazon

Much like the seventh season, Bewitched: The Complete Eighth & Final Season begins with a multi-episode story arc. This time, instead of The Witches’ Convention in Salem, Massachusetts, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) and her mortal husband Darrin (Dick Sargent) are on vacation in Europe. Unlike the Salem episodes, one seriously doubts any of the European episodes were filmed outside a sound stage (because if they were, the entire village of Inverness would still be hanging its collective papier mache sea-monster's head).

For these initial episodes, the seventh season's formula—in fact the entire show's non-magical plot—remains exactly the same. Larry Tate (David White), with clients in tow, is constantly showing up, if not always unexpected, then most assuredly uninvited. His annoying intrusions mirror the more magical meddling of Endora (the magnificent Agnes Moorehead) and muddling of Esmerelda (Alice Ghostley).

And really, that formula extends throughout the season. It would work well, as it had for the previous seven seasons, except for the sad fact that it's far too obvious that Montgomery's heart isn't in it. After all, it was really her charm that the show, with all its sleight-of-hand, silly gags and screwball characters, relied upon. Not that there aren't charming moments, but they are for the most part provided by the guest stars in this final season. Francine York is a gorgeous alabaster goddess, literally, when Endora brings a statue of Venus to life to test Darrin's loyalty to Sam. The incomparable Julie Newmar plays Endora's familiar in human form (a "cat girl" for a client's campaign, naturally) in yet another attempt to tempt him.

Other individual episodes don't vary much from the storylines of previous seasons, either. There are big ad campaigns at stake and mortals witnessing more magic than they should. Historical figures are thrown through time and fictional characters are accidentally brought to life (this time it's George and Martha Washington and Hansel and Gretel, respectively). Samantha, her father, and cousin Serena all lose their witchly powers at one point or another and the children, Adam and Tabitha are both enchanted to enhance their powers for various reasons.

It's still a fun escape of a show to watch most of the time, despite its tiredness and predictability (well, except for the Loch Ness monster episode. That one's just painful.). Erin Murphy as Tabitha has a bit more to do in this season than before and she actually drives several plots, which is nice. Who didn't want to feed the aforementioned faerie tale siblings when they were younger, and what little girl didn't wish sometimes that she could turn the school bully into a frog or become a champion figure skater? OK, so they aren't deep, life-changing plots, but they are good approximations of childhood fantasies.

That's what Bewitched was all about anyway, right? Bewitched was an extension of the American dream. It was the fantasy and faerie tale of instant gratification being hidden, and none too well, in the suburban girl next door. Bewitched: The Complete Eighth & Final Season still fulfilled its promise as far as that aspect of the show, it just didn't do so with quite as much magic.

As with the previous seasons' DVD releases, the packaging divides the episodes, this time 26, over four discs collected in two slim-line plastic cases that slip inside a standard cardboard cover. And like the DVD set for the seventh season, the only non-episodic features are the previews accessible from the main menu of the last disc. The discs again have stills of the different versions of the animated kitchen sequence on the main menu, but neither these animations, nor the individual episode credits include the original cartoon sponsor spots.

However, where the season seven has the Christmas episode with its original opening and closing holiday greeting from Elizabeth Montgomery, sponsored by Oscar Mayer, the final season has an introductory greeting from Montgomery before every single episode. It's the same one each time, but it's still interesting to get a bit of the feeling of watching television during the era.

Though fans will enjoy owning this last piece of the series, Bewitched: The Complete Eighth & Final Season seems a bit too much of a mundane ending to such a magical, not mention successful, series. It's almost as though Darrin finally got his wish to have no magic in his house.

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