Friday, November 14, 2008
Who wouldn't want Elizabeth Montgomery's signature character Samantha Stephens as a mother? She was as beautiful as a storybook princess, calm, occasionally silly, loving, forgiving and--in a pinch--she could wiggle her nose and conjure up ice cream or a pony, take you back in time to meet real royalty or turn neighborhood burglars into pigs or instantly produce a backyard birthday party with circus animals and a giant cake.
Bewitched was a 1/2 hour tv comedy about Darrin and Samantha Stephens--Darrin was your basic ad man and Samantha was a full-blooded witch. They lived a quiet life in Westport, Connecticut, with Samantha trying very hard to get through the day without using witchcraft to help. Darrin was controlling in that way, never wanting her to use her witchcraft. Given that feminism was in its early days then, their relationship seems almost metaphorical now: Darrin obviously wanted to be in charge of everything and Samantha was to be subservient. It never worked out for Darrin, of course.
But I was only two years old when it came on in 1964, and ten when it went off the air ; I knew absolutely nothing about the politics between the sexes. I just knew that everything seemed possible for that half hour I watched each week. Supernatural beings were always showing up in the living room while Darrin was in the kitchen filling the ice bucket. My only experience with the supernatural--magic, even--up to that point had come from bad amateur magicians at parties and the more entertaining fairytales.
It just all seemed so darned plausible. I loved it when Samantha would catch "witchy" illnesses that made her break out in polka dots and caused her magic to spin out of control. I adored Samantha's mother Endora and her pseudo-wicked ways. I adored Sabrina, Samantha's twin cousin, and recall understanding very early on that it was Montgomery playing both roles.
I'm glad that my first real thoughts about the supernatural world weren't necessarily dark. They were bright with possibility and comic relief. (Though I will admit to being a tad afraid of Endora--she's the character who I most imagined would come out of the television and get me.)
I could go on and on about this show. There's a wonderful website that has more information on Bewitched than anyone could read in a week: Bewitched@Harpies Bazaar.
And with apologies to otherwise brilliant Ephron sisters--don't get me started on this abomination.
BTW--Elizabeth Montgomery was the best Lizzie Borden ever!