The Eight Best BEWITCHED Episodes of Season Eight

Welcome to another Situation Comedy Tuesday! Today we’re finishing 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.

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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.

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Bewitched stars ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY as Samantha Stephens, DICK SARGENT as Darrin Stephens, AGNES MOOREHEAD as Endora, DAVID WHITE as Larry Tate, and ERIN MURPHY as Tabitha.

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I won’t mince words. This is the show’s weakest season. Many of the installments are remakes of far better early season episodes. The actors (for the most part) seem tired and bored with the material, and I can’t blame them. The show does a gimmicky thing by setting the first seven episodes of the season in Europe. (They did not actually go on location, however.) Though the European episodes show more imagination, they are hit and miss. The show gets formulaic upon the return home, and it’s pretty much downhill from there. Additionally, there are no appearances this season by the Kravitzes, Uncle Arthur, or Darrin’s parents. But the problem with Season Eight, tired performers aside, can be pinpointed to one thing: the writing. Simply, it’s weak. I was surprised that I got ten great episodes out of Season Seven. (I thought I’d have to reduce my list for the last two years.) But while Season Seven exceeded my expectations, Season Eight indeed left me wanting. Shockingly, I was able to scrounge up eight 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.

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Here are my picks for the eight best episodes of Season Eight. (They are in AIRING ORDER.)

 

01) Episode 230: “How Not To Lose Your Head To King Henry VIII (II)” (Aired: 09/22/71 | Completed: 06/29/71)

Darrin and Endora go back in time to rescue the amnesiac Samantha from becoming King Henry VIII’s wife.

Written by Ed Jurist | Directed by William Asher

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As the second half of another time travel episode, this installment surprisingly succeeds in becoming the funniest and most memorable of that premise. (Yes, besting even Season Five’s “Samantha Goes South For A Spell.”) The reason this one works exceptionally well is due in part to a twist: Endora goes back in time with Darrin, allowing for some welcome comedy. Moorehead and Sargent work together very well, and turn in two of their finest performances. Shockingly good for an eighth season episode.

02) Episode 233: “Bewitched, Bothered, And Baldoni” (Aired: 10/13/71 | Completed: 07/12/71)

Endora makes trouble in Rome by bringing a statue of Venus de Milo to life, and every mortal male who sees her falls in love.

Written by Michael Morris | Directed by William Asher

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This episode gets my vote for the funniest of the season. Endora makes a statue of Venus come to life, enchanting all mortal men in her path. Naturally, Darrin becomes enamored with her, and takes Venus back to Sam with the hope of making her their housekeeper. This is one of the more sexualized episodes of the series, and perhaps one of the most modern in its style. My favorite moment occurs when Darrin first brings Venus home and Samantha and Larry are both stunned: “Darrin, could I speak to you privately?”

03) Episode 235: “The Ghost Who Made A Spectre Of Himself” (Aired: 10/27/71 | Completed: 07/16/71)

A lovesick ghost inhabits Darrin’s body while he and Samantha are vacationing in a British castle with the Tates.

Written by Ed Jurist | Directed by William Asher

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This isn’t a great episode, but I think the premise is fascinating. This is only the second or third time this series has dealt with ghosts, and it’s a topic ripe with possibility. (Perhaps The Ghost And Mrs. Muir had ghost stories well covered in the late ’60s.) Once again, I love that the Tates get involved in the action, and the possessed Darrin coming on to Louise is uncomfortably hilarious. It’s a stagey episode (usually my preference — like a one act) with some nice work by Sargent, White, and Rogers. (Montgomery is a little cold here — it doesn’t bother me too much, but it is noticeable.)

04) Episode 237: “A Plague On Maurice And Samantha” (Aired: 11/10/71 | Completed: 08/12/71)

Samantha’s latest loss of powers is contagious — Maurice gets stricken as well.

Written by Ed Jurist | Directed by Richard Michaels

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On the surface, this could easily appear to be another “Sam loses her powers” episode, but like the Henry VIII two-parter that adds in a twist by having Endora venture back in time with Darrin, this episode has Maurice falling ill alongside his daughter. Evans gives his best performance of the entire series, and his interference with Darrin’s new client is very enjoyable. The interactions between Endora and Maurice are the highlight, but everyone (save Montgomery, who is decidedly average) gives solid performances.

05) Episode 241: “Three Men And A Witch On A Horse” (Aired: 12/15/71 | Completed: 09/16/71)

Endora hexes Darrin into a gambling fool and turns Tabitha’s hobby horse into his inside source.

Written by Ed Jurist | Directed by Richard Michaels

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Reportedly one of Montgomery’s favorite episodes, this fresh and original episode seems out of place in the otherwise creatively dry eighth season. The premise is unique, and though the series dealt with horse racing once in a mediocre Season Two installment, it’s never been addressed as directly as it is here. I particularly enjoy the interactions between Samantha and Endora, where we learn that betting/race-fixing are witch no-nos! Sargent is very funny on the hobby horse, and Larry and the client-of-the-week are quite amusing. Nice premise, solid execution.

06) Episode 244: “Samantha Is Earthbound” (Aired: 01/15/72 | Completed: 10/14/71)

On the day of a charity event, Samantha develops gravititis inflamitis, which makes her weight 300 pounds. But Bombay’s remedy makes her lighter than air.

Written by Michael Morris | Directed by Richard Michaels

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This episode works because it’s one of the few Season Eight installments that features an original premise. Samantha wakes up feeling especially heavy and beckons Dr. Bombay. But his remedy has the opposite effect: now Sam’s lighter than air, and she must be held down or risk flying away. Of course, this occurs on the day that Sam is supposed to go to a charity benefit (with wonderful guest star Sara Seegar). There are some laughs, but this episode wins points mainly for creativity. Also, this episode boasts one of the better comings together of witchcraft and advertising.

07) Episode 245: “Serena’s Richcraft” (Aired: 01/22/72 | Completed: 01/15/71)

When Serena’s powers are stripped by a jealous witch, she amuses herself by romancing one of Darrin’s wealthy clients.

Written by Michael Morris | Directed by William Asher

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Though a combination of several prior episodes, “Serena’s Richcraft” has the distinction of being probably my favorite Serena episode of the Sargent years. Held over from Season Seven, the level of energy — across the board — is much higher here than in the majority of Season Eight’s installments. Peter Lawford is a classy and well-spoken guest star, and Ellen Weston as the Countess Piranha is a highlight. This episode is chockfull of delicious Serena one-liners, and the whole tone of the episode is just — well, entertaining. Classic Bewitched.

08) Episode 247: “Serena’s Youth Pill” (Aired: 02/05/72 | Completed: 10/07/71)

Serena gives Larry a pill that continually regresses his age.

Written by Michael Morris | Directed by E.W. Swackhamer

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This is the last episode to feature both Louise and Serena. Like some of the above, this is not a hilarious episode, but it’s memorable for its creative and entertaining premise. It’s a mix of “Junior Executive” and “There’s Gold In Them Thar Pills,” but works well here with Larry filling the Darrin role in the former, and Serena filling the Bombay role in the latter. Also, Montgomery seems much more interested in playing Serena than Samantha this season, which means that episodes that contain our favorite kooky cousin naturally have a higher energy.

 

The honorable mentions from this season include: “How Not To Lose Your Head To King Henry VIII (1),” which isn’t as good as the second half, but also features wonderful interplay between Endora and Darrin, “The Warlock In The Gray Flannel Suit,” which’s humor comes solely from an over-the-top guest appearance by the hilarious Bernie Kopell as a hippie warlock, “Adam, Warlock Or Washout?” which finally addresses the question of Adam’s powers, “School Days, School Daze,” which is enjoyable only for a scene in which Samantha gets deliciously vindictive to a snoopy teacher, “Samantha’s Witchcraft Blows A Fuse,” a remake of a Season Two episode that incorporates another campy Macedonian dodo bird, but is only mentioned here for its inclusion of the divine Reta Shaw as Aunt Hagatha, and the final episode, “The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth, So Help Me Sam,” which succeeds because it’s almost a verbatim remake of a superior Season Two episode.

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*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Eight of Bewitched goes to…..

“Serena’s Richcraft”

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Come back next Tuesday as we begin coverage of another sitcom! And tune in tomorrow for an all new Wildcard Wednesday post!

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15 thoughts on “The Eight Best BEWITCHED Episodes of Season Eight

  1. I agree that season 8 was the weakest of the series. The series in general had become tiresome and repetitive by this point as you have pointed out. I’m one of those people who think Bewitched should have been cancelled after it’s third season, which was it’s last really good one IMHO. I’m old enough to remember watching the show when it premiered. I loved the first two seasons, especially, and liked it less the longer it went on. I did like “Mrs. Stephens, Where Are You”, with Phyllis and Serena. (One of the few non-Darrin eps that i liked). I also like “Sisters At Heart”, to me one of the last really original episodes, but those were from earlier seasons. I can’t think of one season 8 show that I really liked. I had to smile at your criticism of “Samantha’s Power Failure” from season 5. The first time I saw this show, when it first aired, I said to my Mother,”They stole this dialouge from I Love Lucy!” Even then, episodes like “Job Switching” had become legendary. I always thought that if they ripped this dialouge from Lucy, they should have given the Lucy writers some subsidiary credit. The only Bewitched DVD I own is season 1, when the show really had some good scripts. Even Bewitched’s main rival, I Dream Of Jeannie, didn’t resort to “remakes”, sometimes right down to the original dialouge being used. (To be fair, Bewitched did last 3 seasons longer). My nomination for most blatant remake: the 2-part George Washington episode from season 8, remade from the 2-part Ben Franklin episode from season 3.

    • Hi, Leslie! Good to hear from you again.

      Yes, the Washington episodes are certainly among the lowest. Even as a youngster, I was always vicariously embarrassed that the show resorted to so many half-baked remakes.

      Seasons One and Two were so sharp and smart — the best single-camera sitcom on at the time. But Season Three is actually my favorite: the perfect balance of the smart and the silly. Things start going downhill (in my eyes) about 2/3 of the way through Season Four. There are many good moments in these years, and I’d recommend Seasons 2-4 on DVD.

      Of course, I have no doubt that BEWITCHED would be regarded as a better sitcom had it wrapped with the departure of York.

  2. I do remember reading somewhere an interview with William Asher where he was asked about the recycled plots. He said something along the lines of “we didn’t think people would notice”. This was curious in light of the fact that in January, 1968, in the middle of season 4, Bewitched began daily network reruns of the first 3 seasons. One of the first recycled lines I remember is from the season 2 episode “Double Split”, where the clien’ts snobbish daughter uses the same nose-job/doctor gag from the pilot episode. An ironic thing about these daytime reruns is that the season 3 color episodes were shown in black-and-white at this time. I guess this would have been so as not to be noticeable from the early episodes. Around this time, ABC was showing reruns of The Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best, both B/W shows. I do like the season three shows on the whole, but I disliked the “Queen of the Witches” plotline which opened season 4. It just seemed too “gimmicky” to me for some reason. The Thanksgiving show from that year was excellent, however. I must give credit to my copy of “The Bewitched Book” by Herbie J. Pilato for my knowledge of these episode titles. I never could quote them otherwise.

    • I always thought the recurrence of the plastic surgeon joke was intentional — the thing that would always bait Samantha into doing something naughty. One of the ladies at the Burning Oak Country Club delivered the same line. I liked the semblance of continuity.

      I was also not a fan of the Queen of the Witches development, as I noted in my Season Four post. However, of the few episodes — three, I think (including the fifth season installment, “It’s So Nice To Have A Spouse Around The House”) — that dealt with the storyline, it did give us “Double, Double, Toil, And Trouble,” which is the first and, I think, best of the ‘Serena pretends to be Samantha’ episodes.

    • Hi Track,

      I like I DREAM OF JEANNIE; I think it’s often cute and imaginative. However, the scripts are generally inferior to those for BEWITCHED, the show that IDOJ was cultivated to combat. So, if choosing between the two, I would always go with BEWITCHED.

      That said, there’s still a small chance I might feature the series when I sweep back around to do some of the ’50’s and ’60s shows that I decided not to cover in my first go-around.

  3. Realize this was posted a while back however just recently watched season 8 again. As a child this was just more Bewitched, a show I loved. Watching this season now it is still a show I love however you are right in it being the weakest season, though from that aspect I find it almost more interesting to watch than 6 and 7. Interesting that on the one hand ABC (much like the last season of That Girl the year before) lets Elizabeth Montgomery update to miniskirts and a longer hairstyle while the budget goes down to paper mache loch ness monsters and a cardboard tower of Pisa. Also in contrast to the new styles Elizabeth looks drawn and tired in a lot of episodes. Also interesting to see many epsiodes almost remade verbatim from early seasons. the one positive is that while many of the other regulars are missing Maurice Evans seems to be used more.

    • Hi, Bob! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have a difficult time with the remakes, mostly because the cast generally seems unenthused, and the results are seldom an improvement. This is a difficult season, but not without an occasional flash of creativity — found almost exclusively in the scripts which boast an original premise. I am uninterested in anything that doesn’t make the effort to be fresh and original, and thus, there’s much less to enjoy in Season Eight.

  4. While it’s obvious by watching season 8 that “Bewitched” was clearly running out of steam, I understand Montgomery’s weakening enthusiam now knowing that her and Bill Asher’s marriage was coming undone. I’m also a huge ABBA fan and wasn’t surprised when the group ended not long after both couples had split. Montgomery did the right thing by moving on to other challenging roles, solidifying her reputation as one of the best actresses ever to grace the small screen. A truly magical career.

    • Hi, Chuck! Thanks for reading an commenting.

      I share your enthusiasm for Montgomery’s career. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our other posts on the best of BEWITCHED!

  5. Here’s how I feel about Bewitched:
    Season 1: Great
    Season 2: Excellent
    Season 3: Stellar
    Season 4: Stellar
    Season 5: No longer stellar but excellent (just a downgrade from season 4)
    Season 6: Good
    Season 7: So-so
    Season 8: Bad

  6. Also the season starts with out with a really good and colorful two-parter (yes, Darrin having to go back in time and save a Samantha that doesn’t remember had been used about 5 times before however this is a fresh twist) with great interplay w between Morehead and Sargent, then airs probably to of the campiest and cheapest looking episodes of the series- the paper mache Lock Ness monster and the cardboard cut-out of the Leaning Tower that straightens.

    • Yes, the premiere’s premise is inherently engaging — despite the redundant concept — and stands in contrast to many of the creatively lacking installments that follow, both in the European arc and upon the series’ return to its usual setting (where the show reveals just how tired it has become).

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