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TV FLASHBACK: TV Land adds 'Bewitched' -- and 'Raymond'!
January 22, 2010  | By Diane Werts
bewitched sam darrin endora.jpg

[UPDATE: More good news! TV Land is adding Everybody Loves Raymond, too, starting March 18. After a four-day launch event, the family craziness of Ray, Debra, Frank, Marie and Robert will air weeknights at 9 ET.]

Is TV Land finally getting back to basics? Could the channel be remembering that it once staked out unique territory in celebrating our TV heritage, rather than running me-too reality shows?

One indication: Bewitched twitches back into the TV Land lineup on March 1. Episodes will air at 5 and 5:30 p.m. ET weekdays, running in order from ABC's 1964 pilot.

Samantha, Darrin, Endora, Tabitha, Gladys Kravitz, Larry Tate, Aunt Clara, Uncle Arthur -- hooray!

(And weekend marathons, too! Set the DVR on March 6, 2-8 p.m. ET; March 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. ET; and March 20-21, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. ET.)

I've been rewatching this classic witch-com on DVD lately. And the early black-and-white episodes, in particular, remain fresh and inspired, 45 years later.

Of course, that whole mid-'60s network era -- once derided as a sea of sitcom stupidity -- looks in retrospect like an amazing golden age for flights of fancy. Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Mister Ed, Hogan's Heroes -- all seemingly insane, inane concepts, which turn out to have been enduringly funny and even, sometimes, utterly brilliant. (Green Acres now plays like some kind of delirious Dada masterpiece.)

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Among the makers of those initial Bewitched episodes were I Love Lucy director William Asher (married at the time to series star Elizabeth Montgomery); smart writer-producer Danny Arnold, who'd go on to create one of TV's sharpest sitcoms ever, Barney Miller; and slick writer-producer Bernard Slade, who continued in sitcom whimsy with The Flying Nun (before hitting the jackpot with his '70s Broadway comedy Same Time, Next Year).

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All eight seasons of Bewitched (1964-1972) are also available on DVD (here's the Amazon link), with some nice retrospective extras (including interviews with Asher, who's now 88).

Many Bewitched episodes are also available for viewing online. Hulu is streaming the first two seasons in their original black-and-white, while those early episodes can be seen colorized [see image at right] on Crackle (which runs them full-length and/or as 5-minute minisodes).





Toby O'B said:

Hopefully it's a sign of TV Land returning to its original "mission". Seeing the reality shows and the theatrical movies on the network was very sad for a classic tv lover like myself. At least with the movies, they should have brought back those great old made for TV movies that ran during the early 70's......

Patrick said:

TV Land earned my wrath in November of 2008, when the channel stopped its daily runs of "Star Trek" and started to run infomercials. Three hours a day of that nonsense now. I've never watched TV Land since.

I feel that the actors in "Bewitched" were better than the material, particularly Dick York, who was in frequent pain during the series' production. Also, according to a book I read almost thirty years ago, Bart Andrews' "Worst TV Shows Ever," Tammy Grimes was first offered the lead in "Bewitched", but turned it down.

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