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Category:    Home > Reviews > TV Situation Comedy > Bewitched – The Complete Sixth Season (1969 – 1970/Sony DVD)

Bewitched – The Complete Sixth Season (1969 – 1970/Sony DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Episodes: C-



It seems like every classic show has a heyday, a golden age where it is at the peak of its popularity.  The writers are good, the stars are iconic, and there's that one catch phrase or gesture that everyone is practicing in front of their mirror.  Bang, zoom, straight to the moon!” “Lucy, I'm home!” etc.)  But shows don't get canceled because they're at their peak of popularity.  Inevitably there is a decline.  Either the material gets old, the actors get old, or the audience gets old.  For Bewitched, Season Six, assembled on this four-disc collection, is the beginning of that decline.


Dick York, who originated the role of Darrin Stephens, left the series at the end of season five due to chronic back pain.  Replacing him in Season Six is Dick Sargent who is almost unilaterally considered to be the inferior Darrin.  According to hearsay, when Dick Sargent took over, the show's ratings dropped thirteen points.  Dick York's Darrin was always confused and nervous about Samantha's witchcraft, a much more affable reaction than Dick Sargent's frustration and anger.  Sargent's character is all around an angrier, less likable guy, while Endora was always supposed to be every man's nightmare of a mother-in-law, her confrontations with the new Darrin now belie an only thinly-veiled animosity that seems contrary to the traditional values we associate with classic sitcoms.  But also made apparent by Dick Sargent's Darrin, and more troubling for the modern viewer, is the show's denouncement of anything that is non-normal.


It was always there, but the anger and frustration with which the new Darrin regards the witchcraft going on in his home really accentuates the message that this is not normal and should not occur.  A ready example is the introduction of the character Esmeralda, the Stephens's meek new maid, who tends to fade into invisibility when she's feeling shy or threatened, a quirk that is harmless enough.  Dick York's Darrin would have done a double-take and looked bewildered; Dick Sargent's Darrin wants her out of his house.  There is a rigidity to the new Darrin, an unquestioning devotion to the maintenance, and above all else the appearance, of normalcy.


This season also sees the arrival of the Stephens's second child, Adam, who at least for this season doesn't display any powers.  As it turns out, writing Elizabeth Montgomery's actual pregnancy into the script, albeit only for the first few episodes, turned into a decent ratings grab tactic.  It also allowed for readily-available, original episode plots, something the show notoriously lacks later in its run.


The picture, of course in the 1,.33 X 1 full screen format, has very effectively been remastered, maintaining a softness of skin tone that evokes the pristine world of classic television while not sacrificing the vibrancy of color elsewhere in the frame.  The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and there are no serious complaints.  There is, however, the voice-over during the opening credits of each episode saying, “Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched” that has sound quality so muffled and poor that in contrast with the rest of the episode, it is almost comical.  It is possible this was processed once, then stuck onto the beginning of each of these shows for consistency, but that was a big mistake.


The menus are newly animated to copy the famous opening credit sequence and look so nice as to almost put the original Hanna-Barbara animation to shame.  The only special features on any of the discs are two “Minisodes”, one from The Partridge Family and one from I Dream of Jeannie, that each take an episode from their respective series and condense the plot down into about five minutes.  When one considers the longevity and popularity of Bewitched and the potential for extra features in interviews, mini-documentaries, tributes, and the like, getting only fragmented bits of other shows is really a let-down.


It is sad to see a quality show, once so beloved, begin its inevitable downturn.  If you're looking to get a single season of the show to watch now and then, do yourself a favor and get one of the earlier seasons, as reviewed elsewhere on this site, but if you're an avid fan of the show, through thick and thin, and hell bent on owning the entire series, well then you can't very well do without Season Six now can you?



-   Matthew Carrick


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