Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This week, I’ve got a rarity to share — with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest — and the title of this post gives it away: it’s a script that would have been filmed for the scrapped ninth season of Bewitched (1964-1972, ABC). As fans of the series know, there was an additional two years left to go on the company’s contract with the network, and up until February 1972, it looked like the series would be coming back for a ninth season, despite its weakened ratings. However, star Elizabeth Montgomery and producer Bill Asher mutually decided with ABC to end the series and fulfill their contractual obligations elsewhere (on Temperatures Rising and The Paul Lynde Show). That means, when production wrapped on the final episode of the eighth year in December 1971, the cast and crew all expected to resume filming in a few months on a new season…
That last episode shot was “The Truth, Nothing But The Truth, So Help Me Sam.” It was also the last original episode aired (a remake of a great second season entry titled “Speak The Truth”), credited to writer Ed Jurist — who had been contributing to the series regularly since Season Three — and with a production code of 3922… I mention all this because the script I have for subscribers now is also credited to Ed Jurist, and it’s a final draft dated January 11, 1972, when the show seemed to still be returning for a ninth year. Its production code is 3920 (meaning it was ordered before 3922, but not finished until after) and actually has written on its back “art department,” which suggests that the wheels were in motion for it to go into production early in the presumed upcoming season. That is, had Bewitched come back for Nine, it’s almost certain that this script would have been one that we would have seen produced.
It’s called “Samantha The Matchmaker,” and like so many outings from the end of the run, it’s a remake. But it’s unique in that it’s essentially a double remake — taking the basic storyline of the first season classic “Illegal Separation,” in which Abner and Gladys Kravitz split, but adding in — as a second act complication — the variation that was used when this idea was first revisited and tweaked at the end of Season Four as “Splitsville.” In other words, it takes the structure of “Illegal Separation,” where Sam uses a mutual dream to bring the warring lovebirds back together, but it adds in a second act twist where she also calls on another man (Rollo the warlock, in this case) to create a triangle and drum up some possible jealousy. Oh, and, instead of the Kravitzes, this take on the story involves Larry and Louise Tate… Yet even with these switch-ups, it’s still a highly uncreative outing, revealing just how lazy Bewitched had gotten in its final seasons, when, frankly, its strong construction should have been helping it produce more original fare… at least, if anyone involved was still trying. They weren’t, and thus, while this is a fascinating curio, as, again, it’s an episode we would have seen had the show been renewed, it’s not a favorable reflection of the series’ state in 1972… Nevertheless, if you’re like me, you’ll want to see it anyway. So, subscribers can comment below, and for everyone else, here’s a sample…
Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned for Musical Theatre Monday!
I would love to see this! Thank you!
Hi, Nat! Thanks for reading and commenting.
I have emailed you at your yahoo address.
I’d love a copy of this script. I see it gave Louise Tate a maiden name, which was never revealed during the series. They did reuse the Kravitzes original meeting by having Louise fall off Larry’s fraternity hayride truck. Thank you!
Hi, Jon! Thanks for reading and commenting.
I have emailed you at your yahoo address.
Would love to read this script – thanks for sharing it!
Hi, Mark! Thanks for reading and commenting.
I have emailed you at your gmail address.
Jackson , Had it returned for a 9th season I had thought to give it some relevence to the earl 70’s sitcoms on the air that even with two small children, Samatha would be given a job outside the home , catering business, go back to school ect. just to have orignal scripts and fresh ideas
Hi, Robert! Thanks for reading and commenting.
It’s theoretically possible, but I’m not sure this show’s track record suggests that it would have been willing to veer so much from its formula, especially when its production apparatus, as we can see here, had become so reliant on remaking known episodic successes.
Let me know if you’re interested in a copy of this script!
How cool! I would enjoy reading this. Thank you for making it available!
Hi, Elaine! Thanks for reading and commenting.
I have emailed you at your yahoo address.
“Bewitched” was such a great show for its first three seasons or so, then it’s like all involved gave up. I wonder if that was due to the William Asher/Liz Montgomery/Richard Michaels triangle going on behind the scenes?
A sitcom should never “remake” episodes. That drives me up a wall. I always thought a fun new premise to get a little more mileage out of the series would be to have the Witches Council make Serena and Uncle Arthur try to live as mortals and refrain from using their powers. The rest of the cast could’ve been jettisoned and just make guest appearances. Alas.
Hi, Kevin! Thanks for reading and commenting.
I think BEWITCHED managed to remain in good shape for longer than three seasons – especially compared to its competition from the same era — and, as a result of its sturdy foundation for relational conflict, I find its episodic rate of success to be above average throughout the entirety of Dick York’s tenure. So, I don’t agree that its cast and crew gave up after Season Three.
In fact, I think it was the Darrin switch that accelerated the show’s lack of creativity, as a new lead seemed to give scripters permission to revisit old ideas (for a variety of reasons — to legitimize Dick Sargent, to overwrite Dick York, to eradicate the need for the black-and-white years in syndication, etc.), and I believe that the longer York stayed, the fewer “remakes” there would have been because the desire to replace, in general, would have been less felt.
As for story, every high-concept series is always going to claim a countable number of premise-validating clashes because of its situation and how the elements within it are arranged — and, in terms of structure, there are only so many basic plots anyway. The devil, then, is in the details. I think a little more imagination, and in particular, more assist from character, would have inspired more variety within the series’ stream of supernatural story hooks, and to that point, introducing new members of Samantha’s family — with individual, heretofore unique personas — would have helped the show remain fresher in its last few years, rendering its weekly output more dynamic. And, frankly, that’s a solution that wouldn’t have been outside the realm of possibility (unlike so many of the fixes I’ve seen fans since propose — many of them labored narrative arcs).
As for totally revamping the series’ premise, I know it was discussed when York left, but I not only think it was always unlikely, I also would have personally advised against it — a premise is a promise to the audience and breaking it constitutes a creative risk that would have certainly called more attention to the revamp’s probable shortcomings than a mere recasting would (and did).
Also, no disrespect intended, but I think your suggested concept, specifically, has less of the human, relationship-based nuance of BEWITCHED’s original design and would have left the series with an even more limited capacity for premise-affirming conflict in story — more external, like I DREAM OF JEANNIE’s modus operandi. BEWITCHED then would have likely become a less character-driven series overall, and I wouldn’t be able to celebrate it as much today.
(Also, as you know, Serena and Uncle Arthur were stripped of their powers in “Samantha’s Power Failure.” So, employing that idea again would have itself been a form of remake!)
This is really interesting! Is there anyway to get a copy of the full script?
Hi, Andrew! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Please subscribe to this blog using your preferred email address and I will send a link your way!
Thanks for subscribing, Andrew! I have emailed you at your hotmail address.