"SERENA STRIKES AGAIN" Part One
Or rather, Nancy Kovack Strikes Again! Miss Kovack reigns supreme as she makes her final guest appearances on "Bewitched" in this two parter, but this time as an Italian vamp with a penchant for monkeying around with married men -- that is, until Serena turns her into a chimp with blonde fur and scary make-up. Of course, this silly caper would turn into just another animal-running-amok-on-the-Bewitched-set if it weren't for the ingenious notion of pitting Kovack's snobby Clio Vanita up against Montgomery's diva, Serena. Alone, these two characters are capable of incinerating anyone with just a look, but put 'em together in the same episode and you've got bitchiness that would scare a roomful of drag queens.
Though one could mourn the fact that her Sheila Sommers of previous episodes was not used more often, it's a delicious delight here to see Kovack dig her nails into a different character while sporting her own naturally blonde 'do. Breathtakingly gorgeous and capable of a very good Italian accent, Miss Kovack's every expression is perfection. Playing the "villain" but never going over the top, she is THE perfect "Bewitched" guest star.
The pacing is excellent, with a highlight being the dinner sequence where the cast's reactions to Samantha/Serena's remarks are expertly timed with musical accents. Later, Miss Montgomery delivers a truly fabulous reaction of her own as Samantha discovers from Larry and Darrin that Clio has been left alone on the patio. Her delivery of a single line ("Alone, Darrin? Where are your manners?") is a fascinating study. As she begins the line, she is simply embarrassed that two gentlemen would do that to a lady but by the time she gets the next four words out we see Samantha become internally alarmed with an adrenaline rush of sick fear in her realization that SERENA is probably out there as well. Little moments that add such reality to these other-worldly elements, thanks to the brilliance of actors like Montgomery.
Kasey Rogers as Louise adds to the fun by dressing (and acting) like she'd rather be at a go-go bar than at the Stephens and her overly-excited "Me, too!" when Clio orders a martini rather than Vino Vanita wine is comical. Who can blame her -- as realized by the Screen Gems Prop Department, here Vino Vanita wine, "the true gold of Rome" looks more like a bottle of soy sauce. I'd ask for a martini too, Louise -- or an egg roll.
With a premise that has Darrin uttering the extremely over-used "You took a live client and turned them into a bla-bla-blah", this episode rises in stature thanks in whole to the always electric chemistry between Montgomery and Kovack. Both performers shine bright -- even brighter than the eyeshadow on poor little furry Clio.
FAVE QUOTE: LOUISE: (referring to Clio the monkey) "It's kind of VICIOUS, isn't it?!
LOOK FOR: Topical references to: Steve McQueen, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (THE hit movie of the year), Macy's and Gimbels department stores.
© Review Copyright 2001 by SCOTT VIETS
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