BEWITCHED: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON
I started watching BEWITCHED on television when I was a kid. The classic sitcom was a regular staple of my afternoon television viewing. Heck even as I got older, I continued to watch BEWITCHED because the show continued to be funny, even if the plots sometimes seemed repetitive. Of course, there was a rather long period where BEWITCHED was either no longer regularly syndicated in the New York area, or I wasn’t home when it aired. However, I was fortunate to rediscover BEWITCHED back in the 1990s, when the local airings coincided with my lunch hour during the workday. It was during this period that I also can to notice that the characters on BEWITCHED sure imbibed a whole heck of a lot, with character actor Dick Wilson making a whole heck of a lot of appearances on the show in the role of a drunk.
For the few of you who have never seen this classic sitcom, the basic premise of BEWITCHED follows on the comic marital misadventures of Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) and Darrin Stephens (Dick York)… whose lives are anything but ordinary. After getting married, Darrin discovers that his lovely bride Samantha is a witch, and not the variety to which many a man claims to be wed. Instead, Samantha is the genuine article… a magical, broomstick flying sorceress, who willingly gives up her otherworldly existence for the domestic bliss of suburbia with the mortal advertising man she loves. Darrin being a self made man, he is, of course, against any type of hocus pocus around the house. However, despite her trying to abstain from witchcraft, Samantha and Darrin’s lives continue to be replete with magic, as there is no escaping Samantha’s heritage, nor her eccentric relatives- witches and warlocks all, who seem to like nothing better than magically messing with Darrin’s mortal existence.
The cast of BEWITCHED also features Agnes Moorehead as Samantha’s meddlesome mother Endora, who delights in tormenting Darrin every chance she gets, David White as Darrin’s boss Larry Tate, Kasey Rogers as Larry’s wife Louise, Sandra Gould as nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz, George Tobias as said nosy neighbor’s long suffering husband Abner, and Erin Murphy as Samantha & Darrin’s daughter Tabitha. Making guest appearances during season five are Paul Lynde as Uncle Arthur, Bernard Fox as Dr. Bombay, Mabel Albertson as Phyllis Stephens and Maurice Evans as Samantha’s father Maurice.
BEWITCHED: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features the following thirty episodes that were aired during that year: Samantha's Wedding Present, Samantha Goes South For A Spell, Samantha On The Keyboard, Darrin, Gone And Forgotten, It's So Nice To Have A Spouse Around The House, Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Samantha's French Pastry, Is It Magic Or Imagination?, Samantha Fights City Hall, Samantha Loses Her Voice, I Don't Want To Be A Toad, I Want To Be A Butterfly, Weep No More My Willow, Instant Courtesy, Samantha's Super Maid, Serena Strikes Again Part 1, Serena Strikes Again Part 2, One Touch Of Midas, Samantha The Bard, Samantha The Sculptress, Mrs. Stephens, Where Are You?, Marriage, Witches' Style, Going Ape, Tabitha's Weekend, The Battle Of Burning Oak, Samantha's Power Failure, Samantha Twitches for UNICEF, Daddy Does His Thing, Samantha's Good News, Samantha's Shopping Spree and Samantha And Darrin In Mexico City.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made BEWITCHED: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Not surprisingly the visual quality of the episodes on DVD proves to be quite good, certainly surpassing that of syndicated rebroadcasts. Everything appears pretty sharp and nicely defined. Some shots are a little softer than others, but it all holds up very well. Colors are strongly rendered and rather vibrant. Blacks appear accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is just fine for a vintage television series. The film elements used for the transfer appear quite clean for their age. Additionally, film grain remains very mild. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
All of the episodes that comprise BEWITCHED: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON feature good sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible defects have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the tracks with a fairly pleasant sound. Fidelity is fine, although the music can sound a tad thin in places. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. Portuguese and Spanish language tracks have been included on the DVDs, as have Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Animation and the unforgettable BEWITCHED theme music, serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features. Unfortunately, there are no supplements included with this set, other than some bonus trailers.
Even after 40 plus years, BEWITCHED remains a fun sitcom to watch over and over. Sony’s DVD set offers the episode in good looking and sounding presentations, which makes BEWITCHED: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON a worthwhile addition to anyone’s personal classic sitcom library. Recommended.
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