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"A PLAGUE ON MAURICE AND SAMANTHA"


Another plot from the old "Samantha loses her powers" trunk. But this time given a much-needed booster shot by adding the loss of Maurice's powers and allowing Agnes Moorehead and the rest of the cast to tap some witches joy juice out of this with fabulous performances in spite of a ba-ba-lousy script. Well into the 8th and final season, it's clear no one is writing scripts for the show anymore. Rehashed plots and tired one-liners are by now routinely pulled out of the dumpster, thrown on a paper plate and served unapologetically cold. But if, like the cast, you pretend what you're eating is chicken you'll find enjoyment and a couple 'o good laughs.

First kudos must go to Miss Aggie, who never ceases to amaze with her fresh spin on a role she's done for so long. Whether reacting horrified at the thought of Maurice having to shave with a razor (in a GREAT scene worthy of rewind) or later slyly wiping his germs off her medicine bottle, Moorehead makes every scene she's in THE highlight of the episode. Take a note to some time watch an entire episode and only watch her, whether she's talking or not -- her reactions to other people are always right-on and guaranteed always interesting. Especially nice here is a random moment early on when sitting on the couch with Samantha, she decides to stroke Sam's pig tails (you heard me!) in a lovely mother/daughter moment you KNOW wasn't in the script.

Speaking of the hairdo which seems to have gotten its inspiration from the two space dogs featured in season four's "Sam's Secret Saucer", Miss Liz nevertheless manages to still look great while mustering up nice energy throughout. Worthy of note is the geuninely sweet affection she displays for Maurice Evans whenever they're together -- most obvious in her first hug with him. Literally lighting up in his presence, it's a shame he couldn't stick around for the entire eighth season...

Dick Sargent mostly fades into the background except for the moment when he delivers one of the biggest laughs: upon Sam telling Maurice that the reason she's lost her powers is because of her marriage to Darrin, the camera cuts to Sargent, who delivers THE perfect reaction with his sheepish grin and nervous laugh. Susan Hathaway does a brief but very nice interpretation of Betty, the secretary du jour, while other guest stars (David White, J. Edward McKinley, Bernie Kopell and Bernard Fox), through no fault of their own, simply collect paychecks for tired old "been there, done that" scenes.

Thank goodness for Miss Moorehead -- though she, like the rest of the cast, has "been there, done that" in so many of the situations she's asked to "re-play" this season, you'd never know it from her performances. Every word of dialogue she utters is as fresh as it was the first time she said it in 1964...and 1966...and '68...and...

GERALD WATCH: Dressed as a jester but looking more like a giant pink thumb as Yorick, Maurice's driver.

OOPS: When Darrin comes through the front door you can see the top edge of the fake brick wall scenery behind him.

OF INTEREST: Maurice inquires as to how Adam's progress with his witchcraft is coming along. This comment makes sense had it aired AFTER "Adam, Washout or Warlock". But up to this point Adam's powers have not been addressed. The reason: Production Filming dates show that "Washout" was filmed one week BEFORE this but subsequently aired one month AFTER.

© Review Copyright 2000 by SCOTT VIETS

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