"LONG LIVE THE QUEEN"
You know how there are certain episodes that just make you...HAPPY?!?! "Long Live the Queen" is so darn perfect in every way that it's no wonder why "Bewitched" is so beloved by so many generations all over the world!
Beginning its FOURTH season, this episode pulls out all the stops and creates one of the series' most beautifully written, acted and directed episodes at a time when usually most popular long-running shows start to dry up all their creative juices. The inspired idea of having Samantha crowned Queen of the Witches not only makes sense (Sam's certainly capable and powerful enough!) but gives the writers a chance to really exemplify the real fun of the show: The extraordinary blending into the ordinary.
Ticheba's arrival in the opening gives us a wonderful look into Samantha's world, without seeming silly or cheesy, and the moment when she announces she'd like Sam to take her place is literally breathtaking in its simplicity (Watch Endora's reaction especially!) Some say the greatest actors are the best "reactors" and that's certainly evident here: Dick York beautifully plays the difficult range of having to go from initial frustration to, later, loving acceptance. And of course it simply goes without saying that Miss Montgomery and Miss Moorehead are in their all-time prime here. Most especially of note is the scene at Sam's coronation (a favorite among "Bewitched" fans) where once receiving the crown, Sam looks out at her subjects. In lesser hands, the film would fade out there and go to commercial but in the loving hands of William Asher, the music crescendos and we're treated to a brief yet important glance from Sam down to Endora with a "This is for you, Mom" look which Endora returns with a "That's MY girl!" moment of pride -- the entire moment can be summed up in one word: GOOSEBUMPS!!! It's the time taken to show simple yet important moments like this which elevate "Bewitched" above the rest.
Ruth McDevitt, who usually plays "L'il 'Ol Lady" roles is creatively cast here as the former Queen Ticheba and she proves she's up to the challenge of playing the all-powerful Queen. There's also a wonderful cameo by Herb Ellis (the drunk in the bar scene with Darrin), proving that he's worthy of much more than his usually brief "Bewitched" bit parts of Mechanic (#93), Agent (#135) or Officer (#175) and Edward J. McKinley (seen here eating "crab meat things") is fantastic as the bewildered client.
Lots of interesting extras and beautiful sets (although Ticheba, honey!...ease up on the GOLD!)and LOTS of fun magic abounds: The moving walls, the sliding lamp and even the enchanted chair makes a comeback after its starring role in "Sam's Spooky Chair" last season!
Everything here and more is why I love "Bewitched."
GUEST STARS: In an uncredited, small role, the guy holding the "gong" during Sam's coronation is none other than actor Gil Stuart, best known for playing "Franz" the Butler in the movie version of "The Sound of Music."
FAVE QUOTE: "Bird" (now in Human Form): "And then she touched each one of us with her scepter and presto! we were all back to our original forms!
Darrin: "Is that BETTER?!"
Darrin: "Your being Queen is part of what you are and if I love you enough, I have to accept that -- just the way you accept certain things about my world!" (Beautiful!)
LOOK FOR: When Darrin concedes to let Sam be Queen and she hugs him, exclaiming, "Oh Darrin, I knew you'd understand" -- the scene fades out. But look closely and you'll see (very briefly) in the fade-out, Liz and Dick drop their hug and break character as if the director yelled, "Cut!"
Ticheba's dog doesn't snarl on cue at Darrin so the mutt had to be dubbed in.
Watch for Liz's wonderful interaction with the bird -- she is so brilliant at making dialogue with animals seem totally normal and believable...not an easy feat!
OOPS!: In the scene where Darrin returns home, Endora (supposedly looking at Sam) delivers her lines to Sam in the direction of the fireplace but in the next shot Sam is clearly coming out of the dining room!
OF INTEREST: In the closing credits, a "Mary Foran" is listed as playing "Mother Witch" but there is no such part -- at least not in the final version. The ORIGINAL script for this episode had quite a lengthy scene featuring a mother witch and her daughter at Sam's coronation and the dialogue went something like this:
WITCH MOTHER: "Look at how skinny she is...isn't she beautiful?
Why couldn't you be like that? You had to marry that warlock bum...
DAUGHTER: "Stop picking on Irving!"
In the original version of this script, a "drunk" then appears (ala Dick Wilson) who stumbles upon the whole coronation scene which is set in a "glen" not the "cosmos" as one would imagine and he sees everything, rubs his eyes and says he has to "lay off the stuff." Also cut was a scene with Darrin going to the refrigerator, seeing a tiny figure in it and exclaiming, "Welcome To Dizzyland!" Also changed was the "tag" at the end of the episode where originally we were to see Sam talking to the bird only to have Darrin call her to bed, to which she then decides to clean up the kitchen with a twitch before joining him (ala Episode #1). As you can see, all this IS extraneous and wisely WAS cut! The episode is quite perfect without it -- but nevertheless is interesting to see what was originally planned!
Long Live Queen Samantha!
© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS
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