Wednesday, July 20, 2005

DVD Review - Bewitched: The complete 1st season...

Okay, the unedited version of the review they asked me to write for the This is network. Brace for lame tag line and self opinionated waffle...

"You’d be mad to turn your nose up…"

On August 1st 2005, courtesy of Sony Entertainment, this Emmy Award-winning series' comes to DVD. It’s about time. Pity it’s taken the marketing for the up-coming movie (starring the perfectly cast Nicole Kidman) to shake Sony into action and this hasn’t happened before.

If you don't know ‘Bewitched’ yet, you should. Elizabeth Montgomery stars as the enchanting Samantha Stephens, a pretty, typical 60’s American housewife who just happens to be a witch (the theme being hijacked from the 1942 movie classic ‘I Married a Witch’, with Fredric March and Veronica Lake). Basically, our Samantha falls in love with a mortal, a young advertising agency copywriter Darren. She reveals all on their wedding-night, and Darren (understandably having kittens and no doubt resisting the temptation to duck her in a mill pond and crisp his new spouse at the stake) makes it pretty clear this is going to be a hokus-pokus-free marriage.

Because she's head over heels for hubby (love concurs all in this kitsch and twee half Wiccan suburbia) Samantha is willing to forsake her ancient craft. But can she? Will her wicked mother or fearsome father let her? And what will happen if she just happens, almost by accident, to twitch that delightful nose? Will hubby actually notice if his dinner appears on the table via magical means or if his wife does the full ‘Sorcerers Apprentice’ with the dishes afterwards? And trendy ex-girlfriends of Darrins look a lot less smug what green and covered in warts...

This show was magic, spellbinding, and a hundred other positive witchey puns that leaves you wrapped in the warm blanket of nostalgia and safe that “all will be back to normal at the end of the show”. Although there is a lot here to place it firmly in the 1960s (atrocious antwacky decor, mild political incorrectness, lots of smoking and drinking and inviting the boss over for dinner unannounced), it was actually revolutionary in its time and there are still plenty of reasons to catch up with the world's most enduring prime-time witch. This is an American TV classic, proving that (before the days of ‘Worlds Greatest Police Trousers’) they could sure make TV across the pond.

In the first season there are a respectable 36 episodes that introduce one of the funniest ensemble casts in American TV history. The rubber faced and rubber kneed (you’ll see what I mean) Dick York as Samantha's mortal husband Darrin, the irrepressible Agnes Moorehead as his witch of a mother-in-law Endora, Alice Pearce as nosey neighbour Gladys Kravitz, George Tobias as her oblivious husband Abner and Marion Lorne as dotty Aunt Clara. Oh, and look out for some of the great 60’s supporting actors, ranging from Raquel Welch as an airline hostess to the unmistakable Adam Ward (holy character called Kermit, Batman).

The DVD’s are packed with extra content including featurettes (The Magic Unveiled), a full length theatrical trailer, the usual subtitles, languages, and full screen presentation, plus a bloopers reel (Magic and Mishaps).

Movie: 4 out of 5
Extras: 3.5 out of 5