The Boob Tube #47 : Bewitched (Season 8, Episode 9)
I love Bewitched, but for years it sort of rode on the same story-line Darrin hates magic, but magic ends up saving his stupid job. Like The Beverly Hillbillies, The Munsters, and I Dream of Jeannie, the show had a basic gag that it milked season after season, with very little variation.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing - as long as the show is funny and entertaining, it shouldn't matter too much. It wasn't until All in the Family came along that the "wacky" and redundant sit-com fell out of favor with the maturing Boomer audiences. Thus, Bewitched and many shows like it found themselves at the end of their run around the early seventies in favor of more "adult" platforms (i.e. Mary Tyler Moore over Get Smart).
So, Bewitched was on its last season in 1971. It's actually my favorite season - it's still as redundant and silly as ever, but with a nice seventies vibe. Let's walk through a very special episode, shall we? It's called "A Plague on Maurice and Samantha" and it aired Wednesday evening November 10, 1971 (Just a couple days after Led Zeppelin released their fourth album).
The episode begins: Samantha is frustrated because her magic powers seem to have disappeared. She can't even make the flower arrangement wilt. Douche-bag Darrin will be happy for sure, but Sam's still upset.
Samantha informs Endora that Doctor Bombay has determined (using his "computerized hexometer") that her loss of magic is due to her co-habitating with a Muggle..... er, excuse me, a "mortal".
At this point we get a pretty damn good look at the Stephens living room (and we also get a pretty damn good look up Sam's skirt, but that's neither here nor there). It seems Sam's father, Maurice, has also been alerted to her predicament and arrives with great fanfare.
He drives into the living room chauffeured by Urich (another play on Shakespeare - the episode title is a play on a line from Romeo and Juliet). After a brief speech from Hamlet, Maurice is kissed by his daughter (a major plot point... as we'll learn later).
I've brightened this frame so you can see the goof. You can see there is no ceiling, and you can also glimpse a hinge where the wall could be separated to allow for the vehicle entry.
Maurice is played by Maurice Evans. Evans was the landlord and confidant of Rosemary in Rosemary's Baby.... another story of the occult and feminine affliction - but a bit more dark.
So, Sam and Endora enjoy breakfast the next day on the patio when they receive another visitor, Doctor Bombay, dressed in a bio-hazard suit. He delivers the news that Samantha has PERIMERIDICTAMITUS. Worst of all, it's transferred by kissing. Thus, her father is now afflicted as well.
So, here's the Cliff's notes outline thus far: (1) Sam has contracted Perimeridictamitus by living with mortals too long, and (2) It is spread through saliva which she has exchanged with her father, Maurice. Got it?
Doctor Bombay explains that Sam must now take his prescription to the Postlethwaite's Potent Potions.... and this is when things get weird.
The apothecary chases Samantha around the room in a painfully long scene of cat-and-mouse. She shuns his advances, but he keeps coming. She dodges and runs, but he keeps coming. He won't stop until he gets what he wants.
Finally, he grabs her and she must agree to a kiss before he'll give her the anti-toxin. She submits and the scene fades to canned laughter.
On a side note - I knew I remembered the Love Boat's doctor behaving this way before. He was too straight-laced on the actual show to ever behave so lecherously..... so where did I see it? Oh, yeah...
Anyway, on with the story.
Back at Darrin's office things are about to get similarly perverted. Maurice, now without his magic powers, wants to see how the other half lives and visits Darrin's workplace.
As with all office spaces in the sixties and seventies, it comes equipped with hot secretaries, of which Maurice instantly starts hitting on. While not as awkward as the previous sexual assault scene, still a bit creepy.
She's played by Susan Hathaway, who has absolutely nothing else in her filmography on IMDb.
But it just wouldn't be a Bewitched episode if it didn't include Darrin failing horrible at his job and being bailed out by magic. Darrin must be the worst ad man in history.
In this case, Darrin is going down in flames with his client (played by J. Edward McKinley, who played a client on this show ten times), only to be saved by the Shakespearean tongued Maurice.
And so it ends. They have the anti-toxin and Darrin miraculously still has a job. Everyone's magic is back (including Endora, who'd been kissed by the wily Maurice), so ultimately nothing changes. Thus, we can now repeat the whole story-line again next Wednesday evening on ABC.
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