“THERE'S NO WITCH LIKE AN OLD WITCH”
Another Marion Lorne tour de force proving that Aunt Clara is the dotty, sweet, loving relative many WISH they'd had!
Still early enough in the run to figure out how the logistics of "Bewitched" works as far as sound effects/special effects, or even the "tone" of the show should go, this episode is another example of just how CLEAR William Asher and Company were about how the RELATIONSHIPS between the major characters should work from the start - and it never falters. Especially in the case of loving Aunt Clara and her devotion to Samantha and… even Darrin.
Still trying very hard to show Samantha's relatives (other than Endora) as being "normal" as far as their dress/habits are concerned (Reta Shaw's Aunt being overly "old-fashioned" even for 1960's standards!) it is very clear from frame-one that Elizabeth Montgomery and Marion Lorne have a special kinship.
Notice Sam holding on to Aunt Clara while Clara tries to find the missing doorknobs..(sweet as Sam/Aunt Clara -- but even sweeter when you really see it's Liz looking out for Marion!)…and then the kisses that follow after. They're appropriate as the characters, sweet and genuine, but also something far more real…it's two ACTORS spontaneous in their affection for each other! REAL moments like this are the hallmark between Liz/Marion-Sam/Clara…and it translates to the audience as well in remarkable ways.
Dick York as Darrin is wholly loving and endearing as he (even this early on!) showcases his sensitive support for Aunt Clara -- especially when it's clear to us that he understands just how much she means to Sam. Yorks' Darrin totally understands the "last minute" of the situation and his and Clara's kiss (not to mention Sam's "Welcome") is touching and shows their great familiar dynamic.
Darrin is especially sweet towards Aunt Clara in this episode, seeming totally relaxed and content that ANYTHING could happen with her. He seems quite forgiving and sweet in his response to the over-sudsing catastrophe (such a ridiculous sitcom plot yet somehow seeming much more believable than say, "I Love Lucy" due to the witchcraft element and totally endearing incantations by Aunt Clara such as "Oh, Help-Um!".) His absolute love for Aunt Clara is evident with his response to her saying she feels "like a fifth wheel": He caringly responds with "there have been many times I'm glad I had a spare!" -a totally sweet and great reason to make one love Dick York's Darrin all the more. Even with canapé in his eye he is still good-natured!
While there are many moments that feel far-fetched (the above-mentioned "suds" incident) there are still many interesting tid-bits arising in this episode which will have fully realized themes later: Sam and Darrin coming back from their evening at the theatre with yet another reference to her age: Sam: "I've seen a lot of plays!" A very subtle, yet important, reminder to her being an immortal. Also, Sam's faithful devotion to her relatives: "I want to come face to face with the person who started this smear campaign against my Aunt Clara." Again, character loyalty set up very early on!
The children in this episode are very good: Vickie Malkin as Louise is a good little actor, wringing her hands and totally concerned when her mother is calling other mothers to beware of Clara while Brian Nash as Jimmy is an old pro familiar to television audiences.
But again, it's not children stealing the show, it's the fine performances by Liz, Dick and Marion. The affection between all three is so beautiful (especially Sam's "I hope you don't mind if I give you a hug once in awhile?!" with Aunt Clara kissing her genuinely) that the viewer can't help but feel they're not just watching a sitcom but… a great home movie.
LOOK FOR: The dishes breaking UP into the ceiling, while exciting to us, seems harrowing for Marion Lorne! (Yet, still brilliantly executed!)
Bea Caldwell's front entryway looks a lot like the Stephens'!
It's interesting to note that the scene in the supermarket with the three mothers complaining of Aunt Clara has a "modern-day" resemblance to a witch-hunt.
Clara's kiss to Jimmy before the commercial break - lovely.
The Judge's office seems mighty familiar - could it be Darrins?
Mozart and Rembrandt ("were they witches"?)
-- "You don't think they were ordinary human beings do you?"
Aunt Clara pulls out a canary, a poodle, and then….(bear growl)
JUDGE: "How did you do that?"
CLARA: "I'm not quite sure"
© Review Copyright 2008 by SCOTT VIETS
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