Orphans at Christmas.... If you're lookin' for something to gear you up for that impromptu sing-a-long to "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree," this one probably isn't for you. But if your mood is running more along the "What Child is This" vein then stoke that fire, make some cider and settle down with a cozy, melancholy "Bewitched" Christmas (and don't forget the hankies!)

Intentionally downplaying the comedy and focusing on pathos and goodwill towards men, this episode tenderly spells out the ABC's of what Christmas is supposed to be about and reminds us to remember the following: It's better to give than receive....it's what's in your heart that really counts....be compassionate and understanding of others....always keep promises....and most importantly, don't look out your window at the Stephenses anymore or you'll go insane and wind up in Prune Valley!

Billy Mumy (Michael) turns in an absolutely winning performance here. Playing an understandably pessimistic and problematic child, he finds the perfect balance between being "the bad kid" without being bratty or obnoxious and "the reformed kid" without being cutesy or sugary -- just
right. Also very good in this are Alice Pearce and George Tobias, who both get to show a rare multi-dimensional side to Gladys and Abner, especially in their scenes with Tommy where they come across as rather loving, caring "parents" who seem to want nothing more than to have a child around. Sam and Darrin are equally touching here in their pre-Tabitha state where once again we get an early glimpse of just how ready they are for parenthood. (Darrin scores major points for not only being game enough to visit the North Pole but also in his tenderness towards Michael, especially in holding him after they've returned.)

A "Bewitched" holiday postcard, perfect to snuggle up to with the one(s) you love while the snow quietly falls, the chestnuts roast and visions of sugar plums and hummingbird tongue dance in your head.

GUEST STARS:Cecil Kellaway (Santa) went on to earn an Oscar nomination for 1967's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner;" Gerry Johnson (Mrs. Johnson) was the voice of Betty Rubble on "The Flintstones" from 1964-66; Sara Seegar makes her first of 11 "Bewitched" appearances.

GERALD WATCH: On the couch at the orphanage as Gladys goes to meet Tommy.

SPECIAL NOTE: This episode originally appeared as the first season's Christmas show (12/24/64) under the same title. This recut version has newly filmed footage showing pregnant Samantha "recalling" their first Christmas.

© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS

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