William Asher learned a lot from his "I Love Lucy" directing days. After a hit show's been on the air for a few years, what better way to freshen things up a bit than by sending the cast and crew to a new location? Like "Lucy's" Hollywood road trip, "Bewitched" follows its lead and starts gearing up for a trip of their own... the only difference is Lucy's gang wasn't FORCED to go on location!

During the summer hiatus of 1970, a major fire destroyed the kitchen set at Sunset/Gower studios where "Bewitched" was lensed. With no time to wait while a new set was rebuilt, Asher and crew needed to get some film in the can and found the perfect solution -- take Darrin and Sam off to Salem and actually shoot on location! Once the on-location shots were filmed and the set was completed, everyone came back to Hollywood and filmed this two-part season opener, which nicely sets the entire trip up while introducing the new and improved (?) redecoration of the famous Stephens house. From the strange new spiral staircase and brick oven bank in the middle of the kitchen to the living room's crazy patchwork quilt of browns, yellows, plaids and harvest golds, the new set is truly a testament to all those "What were we thinking?" things of the 1970's. Even Endora comments with sarcasm: "Oh, this room! It's lovely -- the color, the fabrics and the lamp, the rug. It's all YOU!"

Another change with this season opener is the wonderful new confidence Dick Sargent displays here. He is much more sure of himself and loses some of the obnoxious smugness he had when he first began playing the part. Though still somewhat awkward in his mannerisms and posture, he's developed a terrific sense of comic timing and has incorporated his sarcasm to deliver some lines that make you literally laugh out loud. (Sam: I think Hepzibah takes sugar with her tea." Darrin: "Good. I hope she gets a cavity in her upper molar that goes straight through to her sick brain!") Jane Connell as Hepzibah is nothing short of incredible in this role with her commanding presence and regal attitude being both terrifying and comic at the same time. (Hepzibah: "Now you may say thank you... SAY IT!!!") Endora sings Gilbert and Sullivan (!), Liz does some pretty wacky takes with a martini and a wind machine and finally we all get to see what we've been waiting for -- the Stephenses bath tub! "Ribbit!"

FAVE QUOTE: Sam: "You must admit that Darrin is a mortal with a great deal of courage!"
Hepzibah: "He is a mortal with a great big MOUTH!"

LOOK FOR: Endora mentions a Salem workshop on "anti-pollution recipes" -- a nod to the extremely popular ecological movement of the early 1970's.
An interesting insight into Endora's constant meddling: Hepzibah states, "You promised us this marriage would not last" to which Endora replies, "I'm still working on it, your highness!" This adds a new twist to her motives.

CUT!: In the new syndication prints, the voiceover at the end tells us to stay tuned "next on 'Bewitched'," when originally it said, "next WEEK on "Bewitched."

© Review Copyright 1997 by SCOTT VIETS

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