"SAMANTHA'S DOUBLE MOTHER TROUBLE"
Esmerelda sneezes up Mother Goose. The "Bewitched" team sneezed up SOMETHING and out came this episode!
Poor David White. He's finally given that big shot that many actors can only hope for -- the chance to DIRECT -- and wouldn't you know it, he gets saddled with a lame plot that sounds bad even ON paper. It'd be an uphill battle for anyone who had to contend with a one-joke script which has "Oh my goose, it's Mother Stars!" as its funniest line but not all can be blamed on the writers alone. Mr. White, as novice director and "captain of the ship" adds to the sluggishness with a strange pacing that makes this episode fall flatter and faster than Humpty Dumpty himself!"
Usually the cast can save even the weakest of plots with fabulous performances but something's wrong here: Liz Montgomery, Mabel Albertson and Jane Connell TRY to muster up some enthusiasm but just can't seem to get out of low gear while Alice Ghostley and Dick Sargent are, well, a downright handicap! The character of Esmerelda is a strange one, never really funny or endearing -- just plain weird. Quite often in other episodes, Miss Ghostley manages to squeak some fun out of the role but here she decides to make no choices at all, making her totally personality-free and a kind of creepy presence. Esmerelda's penchant for disappearing seems to have pervaded Miss Ghostley's entire persona for here even when she's ON SCREEN she seems to fade into the background. Dick Sargent goes the opposite route: his performance hits you over the head with an in-your-face obnoxiousness that makes Darrin here a Class A Jerk! His anger here is unwarranted and unnecessary: when Phyllis and Frank are reunited and everyone is finally happy (especially Samantha) that HIS parents aren't going to get divorced, Darrin stands there with his arms crossed and is still majorly ticked-off! He even manages to make what I think was designed to be a charming tag scene seem scary: forcefully grabbing Sam's chin while hissing "not one more word!" isn't funny when you think he's going to HIT her!
It would have been nice to see David White given another chance to direct again. He couldn't be totally blamed for lame scripts or poor performances although as director, there are many things he should have seen that weren't working. Maybe it's inexperience, maybe it is bad directing. Whatever it is, it didn't work here.
FAVE QUOTE: Sam's first "Uh-oh!"
LOOK FOR: A brilliant shot that is most unusual: the camera zooms back with lightning speed after Esmerelda sneezes to produce Mother Goose. Very cool!
LISTEN FOR: The laugh track is downright ROWDY when Frank sees the glasses and the goose disappear -- it's not THAT funny!
©Review Copyright 1998 by SCOTT VIETS
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