Welcome to another Situation Comedy Tuesday! Today we’re continuing with our coverage of the best episodes from the best supernatural sitcom of the ’60s, Bewitched (1964-1972, ABC). Every single episode is available on DVD, and the first two seasons are available in both original black-and-white and colorized editions.
Advertising executive Darrin Stephens marries Samantha, a beautiful blonde who just happens to be a witch. She agrees to give up witchcraft and live a nice mortal life with Darrin, much to mother Endora’s chagrin. But with family members constantly popping in and interfering with their life, Samantha and Darrin find that living a normal life is easier said than done.
Bewitched stars ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY as Samantha Stephens, DICK YORK as Darrin Stephens, AGNES MOOREHEAD as Endora, DAVID WHITE as Larry Tate, IRENE VERNON as Louise Tate, ALICE PEARCE as Gladys Kravitz, GEORGE TOBIAS as Abner Kravitz, and MARION LORNE as Aunt Clara.
Season Two is a surprising collection of episodes. Typically remembered as the year of Samantha’s first pregnancy, Season Two continues the first year’s elegant balance of humor and heart. In fact, like Season One, most episodes are excitingly solid, filled with many romantic Sam/Darrin moments. (Again, jokes and laughs often take a back seat for narrative integrity. It’s refreshing, as long as you have your expectations properly adjusted.) But it’s easy to write off Season Two as a comedown from Season One, since the latter features many important and groundbreaking episodes that soon became series hallmarks. But the truth is, Season Two is richer than Season One because of the continued development of the established characters. Everybody (with the exception of Gladys Kravitz, who disappeared 3/4 of the way through the season because of Alice Pearce’s unfortunate passing) is much funnier and better utilized here than they were last season.
Firmly out of the growing pains that plague every first year series, the only obstacles in Season Two were in relation to the talent: negotiating Montomgery’s pregnancy, dealing with Lorne’s heart attack that kept her out of commission during the second half of the year, and, as mentioned above, Pearce’s unfortunate passing. But the scripts make due with what they are dealt, and they’re almost unanimously successful. So this was a TOUGH list to make, as the many episodes were narratively sound with several nice laughs. But I can only choose the best of the best. So, I have picked ten episodes that I think exemplify the season’s strongest installments. For new fans, this list will give you a place to start. For seasoned fans, there might be a few surprises.
Here are my picks for the ten best episodes of Season Two. (They are in AIRING ORDER.)
01) Episode 38: “A Very Special Delivery” (Aired: 09/23/65 | Completed: 05/26/65)
Darrin refuses to pamper expectant mother Sam, so Endora puts the morning-sickness hex on him.
Written by Howard Leeds | Directed by William Asher
The second installment of the season, in which Endora learns of the pregnancy that Samantha has revealed to Darrin and Aunt Clara in the previous episode, is HANDS DOWN the best of Bewitched‘s pregnancy shows. The premise is so imaginative, and it’s a riot to see Dick York experiencing all the pains usually reserved for expectant women. His hospital dream sequence is a hoot, making this a very funny and fresh episode.
02) Episode 41: “The Joker Is A Card” (Aired: 10/14/65 | Completed: 07/16/65)
Uncle Arthur shows Darrin how to counteract Endora’s magic.
Written by Ron Friedman | Directed by E.W. Swackhamer
After Lynde’s guest shot last season as Samantha’s neurotic driving instructor, Lynde makes his first appearance here as Uncle Arthur. He’ll reappear nine more times over the next six seasons, but this is probably his best episode. In addition to his delicious sibling rivalry with Endora, Lynde excels in making a fool out of Darrin, who also gets a marvelous chance to shine. (Something Sargent rarely got to do.) “Yaga-zoozie” is an inspired bit — certainly one of the funniest of the entire series. The same goes for this episode.
03) Episode 43: “Trick Or Treat” (Aired: 10/28/65 | Completed: 07/29/65)
Endora turns Darrin into a werewolf on Halloween.
Written by Lawrence J. Cohen & Fred Freeman | Directed by E.W. Swackhamer
I featured this episode recently in my Halloween post. After a fight about how Samantha should spend Halloween, Endora shrinks into a little girl (played by the future Marcia Brady — Maureen McCormack) and turns Darrin into a werewolf, just as the Tates are coming over with a client. Not only is this a funny installment, there’s some really solid acting too — especially between Moorehead and Montgomery, as the latter implores her mother not to act like stereotypical evil witch. Oh, and the tag, with the client insulting Endora, is a scream.
04) Episode 50: “Speak The Truth” (Aired: 12/16/65 | Completed: 08/27/65)
Endora gives Darrin a statue that causes anyone near it to be honest.
Written by Paul David & John L. Greene | Directed by William Asher
A common sitcom premise has characters attempting total honesty. But Bewitched adds a unique and even funnier element: the fact that the characters have NO CONTROL over their total honesty. This is simply a classic episode, easily one of the best in the entire series. It’s certainly one of the funniest. Frequent curmudgeon Charles Lane makes his first appearance and he’s excellent. This was later remade as the final episode of the series. “Speak The Truth” is Bewitched at its best.
05) Episode 54: “And Then There Were Three” (Aired: 01/13/66 | Completed: 12/10/65)
Samantha gives birth, while Endora battles with the head nurse, and cousin Serena makes her first appearance.
Written by Bernard Slade | Directed by William Asher
This is a milestone episode for a number of reasons. Not only is this the installment where Samantha gives birth to Tabitha, but it’s also the introduction of Samantha’s lookalike cousin Serena. Montgomery plays Serena cooler and chicer here than she will in the future, and it’s not yet as comically satisfying as it will be in Serena’s next appearance. However, what IS satisfying is the guest appearance of Eve Arden (from Our Miss Brooks and The Mothers-In-Law) as the head nurse who clashes with Endora. Also, Darrin and Endora share a nice moment as they cry in the waiting room. (The good will doesn’t last long though!)
06) Episode 57: “Fastest Gun On Madison Avenue” (Aired: 02/03/66 | Completed: 12/21/65)
Darrin makes the sports page: he has kayoed a boxer.
Written by Lee Erwin | Directed by William Asher
The trite sitcom premise of a wife helping out her husband in a bar fight is turned on its ear when Bewitched gets ahold of it. Sam helps Darrin with witchcraft, so the story deviates from the “battles of the sexes” territory and into the farcical realm, as the man that Samantha had Darrin K.O. turns out to be a champion boxer. Rest assurred that hijinks ensue in this pretty funny episode.
07) Episode 58: “The Dancing Bear” (Aired: 02/10/66 | Completed: 12/29/65)
Darrin’s parents come to see the new baby, bringing Tabitha the exact same teddy bear that Endora has just given her.
Written by James S. Henerson | Directed by William Asher
I love the cattiness between Endora and Phyllis. This is first appearance of Phyllis and Frank since last season’s “A Nice Little Dinner Party,” and the animosity continues between the mothers-in-law. Their rivalry is ignited when both ladies give Tabitha the same teddy bear. Not to be outdone, Endora enchants her teddy bear so that it dances. Imaginative premise and some beautifully snide remarks make this a very enjoyable outing.
08) Episode 59: “Double Tate” (Aired: 02/17/66 | Completed: 01/03/66)
Endora grants Darrin three wishes—without telling him.
Written by Paul Wayne | Directed by William Asher
David White is the MVP of this episode, as Endora secretly gives Darrin three wishes without his knowledge. The first speeds up an elevator. The second involves a girl in a bikini. And the third has Darrin transforming into the out-of-town Larry Tate. So, White plays Darrin for the better part of the episode, as he and Samantha try to keep Louise from catching on. (This is also one of the few times the series spends an extended period of time at the Tate’s.) Refreshing and unique premise.
09) Episode 65: “Disappearing Samantha” (Aired: 04/07/66 | Completed: 01/27/66)
Darrin’s witch-hunter new client somehow makes Samantha mysteriously disappear.
Written by Paul Davis & John L. Greene | Directed by William Asher
Just as Lynde did a guest shot before becoming semi-regular Uncle Arthur, Bernard Fox makes a guest appearance here, over a year before he will become the incorrigible Dr. Bombay. This spooky episode has Samantha disappearing in the presence of Osgood Rightmire, a man who’s made a career out of exposing fraudulent witches. Aside from the cool premise, Osgood’s bit with his “niece” is absolutely hysterical — undoubtedly the comedic highlight of this excellent and original episode.
10) Episode 69: “Divided He Falls” (Aired: 05/05/66 | Completed: 03/12/66)
Endora splits Darrin into two halves: the work guy and the fun guy.
Written by Paul Wayne | Directed by R. Robert Rosenbaum
This episode is important in hindsight because of the infamous switch in Darrins. (Additionally, the first episode that Dick Sargent shot was a remake of this one.) But regardless of the foreshadowing, “Divided He Falls” is another comedic masterpiece from the Second Season. Dick York is SUPREME doing double duty as the work Darrin and the fun Darrin. It’s really easy to take the character for granted, especially since he often is the party-pooper when it comes to witchcraft, but here he gets the chance to be legitimately funny. York is great, and this episode is an excellent display of his importance to the series.
Other great episodes that didn’t make the list above include: “Alias Darrin Stephens,” which kicks off the season and reveals Sam’s pregnancy, “We’re In For A Bad Spell,” which features Aunt Clara and a delightfully spooky premise, “The Very Informal Dress,” which features some risque themes and some nice Aunt Clara moments, “A Strange Little Visitor,” which lets Samantha and Darrin test out their parenting skills on a young warlock, “My Boss, The Teddy Bear,” which allows York to go crazy thinking Endora has turned Larry into a teddy bear, “The Magic Cabin,” which is one of the sweetest episodes of the series, “Baby’s First Paragraph,” which features a hilarious take as Endora enchants the baby so it talks to Gladys Kravitz, “What Every Young Man Should Know,” which features a cool premise, but more heart than comedy, and “The Girl With The Golden Nose,” which harkens back to grand thematic principles but isn’t quite as successful of other episodes of similar ilk.
*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Two of Bewitched goes to…..
“Speak The Truth”
Come back next Tuesday for the best from Season Three — the first year in actual color! And tune in tomorrow for a new Wildcard Wednesday post!