Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Extending the Magic of "Bewitched"

I love the TV show Bewitched.
But I never knew that lyrics had been written for the theme song!

You can read Jack Keller’s words and hear it sung by Peggy Lee here.

A word on the show. Yes, it’s silly. But silly can be good. (A good witch!)
I also enjoyed it because the show often tackled social issues. Whether it be a thinly veiled representation of the 60’s and 70’s “hippie/drug” culture or a clever (albeit impossible) solution to racism, the show never ceased to elevate itself above simple charms. It made us think. Consider the one about what we are doing with our civil liberties when Benjamin Franklin is summoned from the past. Or the commentary about the “importance” of Darrin’s job: advertising.

As for the movie, yes, I enjoyed it. But no, I did not love it. On the whole, though, I liked what they did with it. If you ask me, when you “remake” a television show for the big screen, there better be a good “reason” or “hook” other than simply wanting to see it large.

For instance, with The Brady Bunch Movie, the premise of the Bradys being stuck in the 70’s during the 90’s proved just “stupid” enough to work. To me, it worked on two levels. First, it reminded us of a (for lack of a better term) “simpler time” overly contrasted with an era of too much “grunge.” Second, it placed The Brady Bunch on a pedestal, declaring it as an iconic part of our television heritage. It then promptly proceeded to knock the pedestal over as if to say, “What on EARTH did you ever watch this for? It’s horrible!” by merely turning the volume, so to speak, on the personalities and situations up way too loud.

I know of people who did not like the first movie of Mission: Impossible because in it original star Peter Graves's character turned out to be the bad guy. (Sorry if I spoiled that for you…) But that is precisely why I did like it. A jarring event like that is exactly what would warrant a film version.

Anyway, back to Bewitched. The premise in the movie: a reboot of the television show is being done and they want to cast Samantha based on who is actually able to wriggle her nose. Wouldn’t you know it, but the lady they find who can do it is a real witch - and one who wants to experience being a mortal no less? It’s not rocket science clever, but at least it had a purpose and comic thought behind it. In fact, the very idea for the plot came from the notion of "Where on earth can we find another woman who can wriggle her nose?" And I must say "Bravo!" to the casting of Shirley MacLaine as Endora. When Lemonie and I would cast TV-to-Movie just for fun, we decided no other choice existed. Glad they noticed as such, too. For the record, we also figured Richard Dreyfuss would be ideally suited for Larry Tate, but the film had no need for him. Also a "Brava!" to Nicole Kidman for doing Elizabeth Montgomery justice. (And yes, she did learn to wriggle her nose for the movie - no CGI had been used.)

I just think they ended it entirely wrong. I won’t tell you the end, but I’ll tell you mine. The actors playing Darrin and Samantha reveal to the cast and crew that Isabel Bigelow is a real witch. Thus, she really does the magic for the show. The remount of Bewitched, therefore, would surpass the original in its ratings and popularity. The last scene would be Isabel being asked by a reporter, “How do you account for the super success of the show?” And her reply, of course: “It’s magic.”

Anyway, I hope you’re as surprised as me that the theme has lyrics. Enjoy.
(By the way, as I mentioned in my interview by C.J. Redwine, I can wriggle my nose like Samantha.)


Danielle Mari said...

I, too, loved the series. It never took itself too seriously and yet, as you rightly point out, tackles (tickles?) some hefty topics.

The movie disappointed me. The only redeeming quality (albeit QUITE redeeming) had to be the acting. I just felt the script to be vapid. Your ending is better than theirs- but it still wouldn't save the beginning. Or the middle. ;)

I think they should try again.

Helen said...

I think it would've been fun to have Richard Dreyfuss in it; he was in the original series for one episode, after all.

I've not seen the film, I couldn't bear to.

Oh, and yes, I can wiggle my nose, too...