Ho-Ho-Hum! Starting out beautifully with a pretty rendition of "The First Noel," the opening instantly puts you in the Christmas spirit as the camera pulls back to reveal a gorgeous tree followed by some heartwarming chit-chat between Sam, Tabitha and baby Adam as they discuss lovely things like mistletoe, pretty lights and believing in Santa. What better way to get into that cozy holiday feeling? But just as you're about to break out the egg nog, slice open that Hickory Farms salami and light up the 'ol Duraflame, Esmerelda arrives to break the mood by whining and conjuring up strangely un-festive things like goats and seals. There goes that holiday feeling...

Despite Sam, Tabitha and Adam's most festive-like dispositions throughout, it's an uphill battle for them as it seems the writers here have decided to have every other character be uptight about something: Darrin's freaked out by just about everything....Gladys is freaked out by seeing dwarfs run around like they're at a Blue Light Special in K-Mart....Abner is, as usual, freaked out by Gladys.....Santa's freaked out about not being able to get out of the house....Larry's freaked out by Louise's fur fixation....and Esmerelda is -- just plain freaky!

Ronald Long plays his usual Big Gruff English Guy role but this time wearing a Santa suit and Esmerelda, whose responsible for the whole plot is unceremoniously forgotten about halfway through the episode with not even so much as a goodbye or mention of her leaving. None of it matters much anyway... while the colors, decorations, seasonal music, snow, hats, gloves, scarves, coats and even best wishes from Liz herself at the very end all nicely tell us it's Christmastime at "Bewitched," everything else tells us it's just another day.

LOOK FOR: Sam gets goosed by an elf after they first arrive in the kitchen!

LISTEN FOR: In an ad-lib going into the final scene, Sam is telling Tabitha she's holding a doll named Clementine but Tabitha responds, "Well, I'm gonna call her CINDY!"

© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS

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