"SAMANTHA'S THANKSGIVING TO REMEMBER"
DARRIN: "Sam, this is 17th century Salem!" SAM: "Yes, isn't it exciting?!" DARRIN: "Hm?!?!" SAM: "Weeeelll!!!" In the series' only Thanksgiving holiday episode, Aunt Clara's errant magic whisks the Stephenses back to the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving in Plymouth -- the OLD Plymouth where they talked of burning witches! With the entire episode revolving around this somewhat scary subject matter, "Bewitched" beautifully delivers some of its most winning and most profound moments in its sensitive recognition of racism in any age.
With a clever, witty, intelligent script written by Tom and Helen August, "Samantha's Thanksgiving to Remember" is an impressive mix in its complicated task of contrasting 1967 sensibilities to the 17th century's. Especially fun are Darrin's inability to grasp the lingo of Pilgrim talk, everyone zapped to Plymouth in their modern clothing and the Pilgrims telling that tired joke "That was no lady, that was my wife!"
In the difficult challenge of finding humor in a situation which has Samantha, Clara, Tabitha and Darrin all thrust into a world which would have them burned at the stake (!) the Augusts' script masterfully retains the tension and suspense while still being funny and dramatic. In a good example of this, the gang's first arrival in Old Plymouth is almost reminiscent of "Diary of Anne Frank" -- someone knocks on the door and there is a moment of instant panic. Once the door is opened, we find Sam simply being "starstruck" at having met John Alden and Darrin commenting "I didn't know you spoke Pilgrim!" The balance between sitcom and drama is perfectly weaved.
While still finding the comedy, Dick York manages to be at his most endearing here in his concern over Sam. His lovely sensitivity is summed up in small but beautiful moment: DARRIN: "I'm so worried about you in the 17th century I couldn't eat a thing." SAM: "Thou art very sweet." When he pleads "Can't you think of some way to zap us away from here?!" he is practically on the verge of tears, touching not only Samantha but the audience as well with his devotion. Liz is equally fascinating here in her calm and cool-headed contrast to York's stressed out anxiety. We already know Sam to be intelligent and quick-thinking and it's confirmed again here. When Darrin asks, "They can't really burn me as a witch can they?" she simply replies, "Not while I'm around." Somehow we know it's true -- with or without magic.
Jacques Aubuchon as Phineas makes a creepy villain and the overall production is first-rate. The music throughout is far different than the standard stock with the underscore for Clara recalling her first Thanksgiving being especially nice. Other favorite moments include Sam defiantly popping in and out when Darrin's rude to Aunt Clara; the inspiring idea of having Gladys go along for the ride ("I don't like this dream, it's too much hard work!") and of course, Darrin's trial scene where Sam defends him with her inspirational speech about humanity ... something which unfortunately still needs to be heard as much today as it did in the 1960's.
GUEST STARS: Richard Bull (John Alden) goes on to play the beleaguered Mr. Olsen (Nellie's dad) on "Little House on the Prairie."
LOOK FOR: When Clara remembers the spell to go home, she calls Sam, "MANTHA" which causes Liz to laugh and break character.
The smoke bomb that explodes to take them out of the 17th century obviously surprises and scares Marion Lorne.
No false eyelashes for this Pilgrim Woman! Liz's make-up goes au natural for her Plymouth trip but she "makes-up" for it back home where once again, the 60's lashes are bigger than ever!
GERALD WATCH: Someone needs to give this boy lines! He can be found this time as a Pilgrim in the trial scene, just over Liz's left shoulder.
DIANE WATCH: Diane plays the Pilgrim Tabitha.
© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS
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