"TO TRICK OR TREAT OR NOT TO TRICK OR TREAT"
After the first four seasons' wonderful Halloween outings and the notable absence of no holiday treat from 1968, this episode comes with great anticipation and expectation: But can Dick Sargent bring as much fun to the role of Darrin as Dick York did in previous Pumpkin Day plots? Sadly, no.
With much of the blame going to the writers, Darrin's past heroic and sensitive stance on how upsetting Halloween could be to Sam and Endora is thrown out the window here and replaced with demanding orders such as "You, Tabitha and I ARE going trick or treating!!!" Or else. Unfortunately, with this new "Hey, I'm the boss here!" attitude, as portrayed by Dick Sargent, Darrin is thoroughly obnoxious, unpleasant and downright smug.
In fact, the entire episode which starts out very nicely with a delightful scene between Tabitha and Sam quickly melts into a burning soup of insults, petty glares and downright hostility between Darrin and Endora and all of a sudden... it's not funny anymore. Sam hits the nail on the head with her defense of Endora in her comment "I think in the case of Halloween, mother's point of view should be respected" -- sounds reasonable -- but the new "Me, Tarzan-You, Jane" Darrin is quick to even shoot down Sam (who seems almost as annoying in her surprisingly milquetoast attitude here.)
Sargent, who's still in the infancy stage in this role, is seen here struggling for the character. The scene in his office where he first notices the wart on his chin is almost painful to watch in his broad, overacting (and unfunny) takes. But the most painful turn of events is when Darrin finally seems to have found heart and takes a moment to sincerely apologize to Endora, who graciously accepts and almost blushes and stammers in her appreciation, only to find him turn nasty on her again.
Really more of a plug for *UNICEF than anything else (this is the 2nd time "Bewitched" centered an entire plot around it!) this episode is commendable in that respect and does have some fun tidbits: The scene between the cop and Darrin is wonderfully dated with the cop's reference to 60's singer, Tiny Tim, ("I'm not going to ask for a chorus of "Tiptoe Thru the Tulips") and a cool moment where Larry sees Endora disappear before his eyes!
Unfortunately, what should be a cute Halloween "Bewitched" episode gets wrapped up in its own bad attitude, becoming both charmless and tedious. Even Endora remarks: "Samantha, you win! I'm BORED with all this TRIVIA!" I couldn't have put it better myself.
FAVE QUOTE: Tabitha: "It's beautiful! I'll be the most beautiful princess on the whole block!"
Samantha: Well, I certainly hope so...every other child on the block's a BOY!"
GUEST STARS: Jeanne Sorel (the candy giving neighbor) appears later as Mrs. McMann (of McMann & Tate fame) in "What Makes Darrin Run?"
Eric Chase, who will later play Hansel in "Hansel & Gretel in Samanthaland" plays the (uncredited) bit part of a trick-or-treater dressed as a skeleton.
DIANE WATCH: You have to look closely to find her but when Sam & Tabitha are trick or treating with neighborhood children, Diane is dressed in a strange kind of old lady ballgown, big hat and a mask (looking, unintentionally, like a midget Miss Havisham from "Great Expectations.").
GERALD WATCH: That's Gerald York seen in a big-time close-up as the driver who looks over at Darrin in his full witch gear.
LOOK FOR: Look for Liz helping Diane find her mark by guiding her into place during the scene where "Batman" talks to Tabitha!
Liz's genuine surprise at just how close that flaming arrow gets to her head!
OOPS!: Eric Chase ("skeleton boy") coming down the path with Tabitha, begins his dialogue by accidentally calling Sam "mommy" instead of "Mrs. Stephens."
*UNICEF = United Nations Childrens Fund (aka United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, an earlier name), an agency concerned with the health and nutrition of mothers and children worldwide was at its apex of public awareness in the late 60's and early 70's. One of the most famous worldwide charitable causes, it needed no explanation of what it was and almost all school children in those days had some experience with the little orange box with a slot for coins (like Tabitha and her fellow trick-or-treaters) in helping to raise money to feed starving children.
© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS
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