"CHARLIE HARPER, WINNER"
THIS is what "Bewitched" is all about!
One of my all-time favorites, this companion piece to "A is for Aardvark" (Episode #17) rises to new levels with its sophisticated approach towards focusing in on what drives the central theme of every episode...deep love between two people. A gorgeous gem, this character study is testament to the incredible detail given to the complexities of Darrin and Sam, proving to the audience once again -- there's more to this sitcom than just a bunch of magic!
Earl Barret's script beautifully integrates the basic elements of "Bewitched" (magic and humor) with the more complex (character values and emotions.) With a unique twist, this time Darrin and Samantha's world is not rocked so much by witchcraft but more so by the arrival of the very mortal Daphne and Charlie Harper, who in just their being rich, beautiful and successful magnify the Stephenses own frustrations and doubts in comparing themselves to them.
It takes two strong mortal characters to make Darrin and Sam this insecure and with the Harpers, Earl Barret has created two clever antagonists. Angus Duncan is well cast as Charlie: perfect yet nice, a guy you can't dislike no matter how much you may want to. Afterall, Charlie Harper simply wants to help out an old friend move up in the world. Daphne, on the other hand, is more complex. She's a snob with clear motives -- she's actually jealous of Samantha! -- yet, like Charlie, you believe that she honestly wants to help in the only way she knows how, making her almost sympathetic. Joanna Moore's portrayal of Daphne is a fabulous, multi-dimensional performance expertly disguising Daphne's venom with a slight Southern drawl and twinkling eyes. Yet it's her sad vulnerability which keeps us from absolutely hating her.
In spite of the tribulations they're put through, Darrin and Samantha are at their most romantic here, kissing in what seems to be a record number of times, each peck seeming totally unrehearsed, spontaneous and genuine. Two excellent examples -- Darrin: "I wish I could afford to buy you a castle." Sam: "Don't... they're drafty" -- their kisses and embrace in the fade-out are lovely! Later by the pool at Oyster Bay, their affection is cute as Darrin gives Sam a wet kiss, starts to leave but comes back to wipe her nose with his towel, prompting her to giggle with surprise endearment. Subtle moments like this are more important to the plot than the viewer suspects, making their bond stronger and sweeter.
Once again Dick York and Liz Montgomery are in a class by themselves, showing incredible depth to their characters singly and as a couple. While the Harpers SEEM to have everything, there's no question as to which couple really does have it all and it's the chemistry between York and Montgomery that makes it all believable. The scenes where Darrin finds out about the mink and later when Sam decides to give it to Daphne are perhaps two of the finest ever filmed. From the intensity in York's voice and eyes to the choked up fear in Montgomery's, acting like this doesn't get more real. For anyone who's ever been in danger of losing something they love so much, these moments ring true.
This is what "Bewitched" is all about.
FAVE QUOTE: Darrin: "Identical Mink TWINS?!?!"
Daphne: "Oh, Charlie! If you don't get me that coat, I'm gonna have a migraine until 1970!"
GUEST STARS: Joanna Moore was married to Ryan O'Neal and is the mother of Tatum and Griffin O'Neal. Henry Hunter (Senator) appeared as Darrin's Uncle Albert in "A Bum Raps" (#69).
GERALD WATCH: He's got lines this time as he appears in the final scene as the "special messenger!"
OF INTEREST: Samantha's final line, "I can never zap up another Darrin Stephens" is sadly prophetic considering what we know now.
© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS
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