"SAM'S OLD SALEM TRIP"
Darrin must rescue Samantha when she is accidentally transported (without memory or powers) back in time to 17th century Salem -- the worst place for a "witch without witchcraft"...especially a witch sporting teased blonde hair and a backless mini-dress!
As with its companion piece, the classic "Samantha's Thanksgiving to Remember" (#119), this equally superb episode uses the dark backdrop of 17th century witch hunting to convey its moral stand against prejudice and bigotry in any age. While "Thanksgiving" is perhaps more dramatic, this episode sets out to be funnier -- and is -- successfully getting the same message across while giving Darrin, Samantha (and the audience) a totally original, cleverly written new adventure.
One refreshing element here is the role reversal of Darrin and Samantha. In "Thanksgiving" (as well as practically every "Bewitched" episode) it is Samantha who is usually the rescuer, with Darrin reliant on her ingenuity to save the day. But now Darrin is the one who must think quickly on his feet, an endearing quality too-little-seen in the character but conveyed nicely here by Dick Sargent. This is one of Sargent's better episodes, especially comic in his biting delivery of caustic one-liners: "Esmerelda, don't add fool to the fire. I mean, fuel....OR DO I?!" and his less-than-impressed comment of Sam, "What a ham!" -- both made funny by Sargent's trademarked sneer.
Other wonderful performances: Agnes Moorehead has a brief cameo in a funny scene with Darrin and performs the deliciously recited incantation: "Days become seconds. Seconds become night. Back into the past with the speed of light. Ice turns hot! Fire turns cold! Send Dum-Dum back to Salem of Olde!" (I still laugh whenever I hear the "Dum-Dum" part!). Ronald Long manages to leave his predictable "Santa/King/Giant" impersonation behind and does a fine job as the self-righteous Judge while even Alice Ghostley's nit-witch Esmerelda proves to be somewhat less annoying here.
Liz is good as she plays most of the episode appropriately haughty and cool as "Sam the Barmaid" but really gets a chance to pull out the stops in what happens to be an all-time favorite scene of mine: the courtroom trial where Samantha displays her witchcraft. Usually repressed from using her witchcraft, it's a fabulous release to finally see Samantha so brazenly flaunt her powers to teach the "bad guys" a lesson. The magic is showy and clever (love the shackles flying off!) and Samantha (ala "Carrie") seems to be in her element... I mean, who hasn't ever wanted to turn themselves into a flying bucket of water to douse out a fireball?!?!
Best when viewed with stale bread and honey.
GUEST STARS: James Westerfield (Mr. Farley) appeared in William Asher's 1964 "Bikini Beach."
GERALD WATCH: Grabs Samantha by the arm and utters the word "Aye" when the Judge orders him to seize her; He is also seen several times as a trial spectator; But the ultimate must-see Gerald sighting is early on when he plays a tavern patron who gleefully...slaps Liz on the butt!
©Review Copyright 1998 by SCOTT VIETS
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