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.
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, KASEY ROGERS as Louise Tate, SANDRA GOULD as Gladys Kravitz, GEORGE TOBIAS as Abner Kravitz, ERIN MURPHY as Tabitha, and MARION LORNE as Aunt Clara.
Season Four is classic Bewitched — goofy plotlines, silly guest stars, and a shift into more comfortable, formulaic storytelling. All our favorite recurring characters are back (save Maurice, who won’t return until late next season), including Serena, who pops in for three separate episodes this year. Unfortunately, Dick York pops out for four installments, as his back pains became increasingly taxing. Meanwhile, this is the last season with Marion Lorne, as the elderly actress passed away shortly after production wrapped. In terms of quality, though a definite comedown from Season Three, Season Four boasts a more even distribution of great episodes, average episodes, and clunky episodes. But still the best fantasy sitcom on television, Bewitched‘s fourth season represents a strong collection of installments. So, I have picked ten episodes that I think exemplify the season’s strongest. 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 Four. (They are in AIRING ORDER.)
01) Episode 111: “Double, Double, Toil And Trouble” (Aired: 09/28/67 | Completed: 06/08/67)
Endora has Serena take Samantha’s place when Darrin and Samantha fight about her duties as Queen.
Written by Ed Jurist | Directed by William Asher
Serena makes her first appearance here since her debut in “And Then There Were Three.” One of the best episodes of the season, this is the quintessential “havoc caused when Serena impersonates Samantha” episode. Everyone is in rare form — the bit between Serena and Larry is naughtily uncomfortable — and Montgomery, in particular, shines. A fan favorite, the episode also ends with a hilarious pie fight in which the actors are visibly cracking up. Hilarious!
02) Episode 113: “No Zip In My Zap” (Aired: 10/12/67 | Completed: 08/18/67)
Darrin fears that Samantha is spying on a business meeting with his old flame. But Samantha’s really laid up at home — sans witchcraft.
Written by Barbara Avedon | Directed by Richard Kinon
This episode combines two previous plots — Samantha losing her powers and Darrin suspecting Sam of transforming into a creature and spying on him — into a funny (but perhaps unrelated) mix. Dick York is great as he hysterically tries to talk to the fly that he thinks is Samantha, but even more engaging are the scenes in which Dr. Bombay prescribes Sam to levitate until her powers return. So, despite the combination of two tired premises, the dialogue is quite funny and the script gains distinction for some very clever nuances.
03) Episode 118: “Allergic To Macedonian Dodo Birds” (Aired: 11/16/67 | Completed: 09/14/67)
Endora’s magic is transferred to Aunt Clara due to an allergic reaction to a Macedonian dodo bird.
Written by Richard Baer | Directed by Richard Kinon
This is one of the best episodes of the entire series. Darrin revels when Endora loses her witchcraft. The funniest part? The fact that her powers are transferred to Aunt Clara, whose newfound confidence is hysterical. The richly antagonizing interactions between Darrin and Endora are the highlights, but the campy sight of Dr. Bombay trying to pluck a tail feather from the Macedonian dodo bird is a treat. Great script, hilarious episode. Everything clicks.
04) Episode 119: “Samantha’s Thanksgiving To Remember” (Aired: 11/23/67 | Completed: 09/21/67)
Aunt Clara sends herself, Sam, Darrin, Tabitha, and Gladys Kravitz back to the first Thanksgiving, where Darrin is promptly accused of witchery.
Written by Alfred Lewis Levitt & Helen Levitt | Directed by Richard Kinon
I featured this episode last month for my Thanksgiving post! Here’s what I wrote then: “Before Bewitched was released on DVD, several special episodes were presented on VHS; this was one of them. Not only is this an incredibly original episode that sees the cast time-travel back to the first Thanksgiving, but we’re blessed with the presences of Gladys Kravitz and the always entertaining Aunt Clara. This is one of the series’ classic and most memorable episodes.”
05) Episode 125: “Once In A Vial” (Aired: 01/04/68 | Completed: 11/09/67)
Endora’s plans to have one of Samantha’s old beaus spike her drink with a love potion backfire when she drinks it herself and falls for Darrin’s obnoxious new client.
Story by James S. Henerson | Teleplay by James S. Henerson & Ed Jurist | Directed by Bruce Bilson
It’s all about Endora here as the sneaky mother-in-law tries to hook Samantha up with her old playboy beau Rollo. But his love potion for Sam ends up in Endora’s drink and she hauls herself to the chapel to marry Darrin’s odious client. My only complaint about the episode is that I wish the Tates were in it, as the script originally specified. But, oh well, this is still a very funny installment regardless and Moorehead is superb!
06) Episode 127: “If They Never Met” (Aired: 01/25/68 | Completed: 06/20/67)
Endora shows Samantha what life would be like for Darrin if he and Sam had never met.
Written by Bill Idelson & Sam Bobrick | Directed by R. Robert Rosenbaum
This is Season Four’s most romantic episode, as Sam and Darrin learn that they are destined to be together. Yada, yada, yada. Normally I find episodes like these gimmicky — but it works on Bewitched much better than on any other sitcom. (It’s cringeworthy for the Friends cast to sit around and think about “what if?”; but given this series’ supernatural premise, it makes total sense for Endora to just wave her arms and show us.) There are some wonderful and beautiful moments here, but this isn’t a laugh heavy installment. However, longtime fans should find this episode very rewarding.
07) Episode 128: “Hippie, Hippie, Hooray” (Aired: 02/01/68 | Completed: 10/12/67)
The Tates are concerned when they see in the paper that a psychedelic Samantha has been arrested. The truth, of course, is that it’s actually Serena.
Written by Michael Morris | Directed by William Asher
Serena gets kookier with each appearance — here she goes hippie — and Montgomery is clearly enjoying every minute of it. Most of the humor comes from Larry believing that Samantha has gone off the deep end, even though it’s really Serena taking her revenge on Darrin. Serena sings a few songs (much to the hardcore fans’ delight) and there are ample laughs throughout. This is a solidly entertaining (and very ’60s) episode.
08) Episode 131: “How Green Was My Grass” (Aired: 02/29/68 | Completed: 11/02/67)
After an artificial lawn is installed by mistake, Darrin accuses Sam of zapping it there to teach him a lesson.
Written by Ed Jurist | Directed by R. Robert Rosenbaum
I like the “Samantha and Darrin argue about witchcraft” episodes because the clash hits back to the series’ core premise about the conflicts arising from a witch trying to live the mortal life. Here it’s facilitated by a mix-up involving a faux grass lawn. The most memorable moment for me was Sam’s initial inability to zap up artificial grass — she can only zap the real thing. Wonderfully unique storytelling!
09) Episode 132: “To Twitch Or Not To Twitch” (Aired: 03/14/68 | Completed: 02/05/68)
After an argument over witchcraft, Samantha refuses to magically change a tire when the car breaks down on the rainy drive to a client’s house.
Written by Lila Garrett & Bernie Kahn | Directed by William Asher
This is another one of the series’ best episodes. After chewing Sam out about using her witchcraft, Darrin gets a flat tire… in the rain… on the way to a client’s house. Of course, Samantha refuses to twitch her nose, and Darrin angrily has to change the tire. The bits at the client’s house are unusually notable with several funny bits, and the dialogue between Sam and Darrin sparkles throughout. Very funny episode — again, striking to the series’ core.
10) Episode 135: “I Confess” (Aired: 04/04/68 | Completed: 02/12/68)
Samantha shows Darrin via dream what life would be life if they told people about her witchcraft.
Written by Richard Baer | Directed by Seymour Robbie
Okay, this one IS a little gimmicky, but as I said above, Bewitched can get away with things like this because of its premise. The best scene has Larry wanting to exploit Sam’s powers for financial gain, but otherwise, the episode isn’t a RIOT. Rather, it’s a surprisingly well-plotted episode that shows all the awful things that would probably happen if Sam revealed to the world her identity. One thing though — I would have loved to see Endora during all of this! Interestingly, the original broadcast was interrupted for coverage of MLK’s assassination.
Other strong episodes that didn’t quite make the list above include: “Long Live The Queen,” a fan favorite that despite an interesting story, isn’t funny enough, “Business, Italian Style,” which gives Dick York many opportunities to shine, “Out Of Sync, Out Of Mind,” which boasts Aunt Clara, Phyllis, Dr. Bombay, and a unique premise, “That Was No Chick, That Was My Wife,” which features a familiar plot, but makes it even funnier, “Solid Gold Mother-In-Law,” in which Endora torments Darrin deliciously, “My What Big Ears You Have,” which has an amusing premise but a subpar script, “Snob In The Grass,” a self-conscious remake of the pilot, “Tabatha’s Cranky Spell,” the funniest non-Darrin episode of the season, and “The No Harm Charm,” which sees the return of Uncle Arthur.
*** The MVE Award for the Best Episode from Season Four of Bewitched goes to…..
“Allergic To Macedonian Dodo Birds”
Come back next Tuesday for the best from Season Five! And tune in tomorrow for a special Christmas Wildcard Wednesday!