Most members of the television audience will likely have fond memories of the hit 1960s show Bewitched. However, fewer will have fond memories, or even memories at all, of that show’s much less successful spin-off, Tabitha. Bewitched followed the married couple of Samantha and Darrin, with Samantha being a witch and Darrin being an average joe. During the show’s run, the couple was given two kids, including a witch daughter named Tabitha. The spin-off centered on this character as an adult, though it only ran for a season and featured a different actress. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at the Bewitched spin-off that you probably forgot about.
The hit 1960s sitcom Bewitched focused on the novel premise of a normal man that marries a witch. Of course, witches aren’t supposed to exist, so husband Darrin had a very hard time keeping his wife Samantha’s powers a secret from his friends and coworkers. Samantha also had a particularly tough time subduing her powers to act as a normal wife! Even so, the two were in love, so they made it work.
Actress Elizabeth Montgomery played the character of Samantha over the entirety of Bewitched’s run, while two different actors played the character of Darrin. Oddly, both of the actors that played the character of Darrin over the course of Bewitched’s production run were named Dick. The first actor to play Darrin was Dick York, while the second actor to play the character was named Dick Sargent.
As with most married couples on successful television series, Samantha and Darrin were given a few kids over the course of Bewitched’s eight-season run. The first was Tabitha, who proved to be a big hit with audiences. Actress Erin Murphy most famously played the character of Tabitha, though she would be replaced by an older actress when it came time to film Bewitched‘s unsuccessful spin-off. A few years after Tabitha, younger brother Adam was born.
Bewitched had been on the air for eight seasons by the time that the network canceled it. The cancellation occurred in 1972, and the spin-off series Tabitha came on the air in 1977. This meant that Tabitha came 5 years after Bewitched ended, and at a time when the character of Tabitha would have only been 11 years old. However, the creators of the spin-off made the odd choice to have the character of Tabitha portrayed by an adult. This is the reason that they fired Erin Murphy and brought in her replacement, which was an actress by the name of Lisa Hartman. The series focused on Tabitha’s life as a single adult trying to make a living at a television station.
While it would have made more logical sense for the series to follow an 11-year-old Tabitha and her younger brother’s adventures, it instead decided upon the age change. Their reasoning for making Tabitha older was to make the series more like Bewitched. Essentially, they changed the character of Tabitha to be more like the character of Samantha, and mimicked it’s parent series’ main conflict by having the bulk of the show be about Tabitha trying to hide her powers to fit in.
In addition to unattractively imitating it’s parent series, Tabitha also took some liberal inspiration from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The Mary Tyler Moore Show had come on the air in 1970 and become a massive phenomenon. When those in charge made the decision to have Tabitha be a single woman working at a television station instead of her being a married woman like her mother had been on Bewitched, they were certainly taking inspiration from what Mary Tyler Moore had done so successfully years before. However, this idea was less groundbreaking by the time that Tabitha got around to it.
The actress that was brought on to replace Erin Murphy as the character of Tabitha was Lisa Hartman. Sadly, Tabitha didn’t turn out very successful, and Lisa was forced to find other work soon after taking the titular role on the spin-off series. Coincidentally, Lisa would go on to find a gig playing a part on another spin-off of a successful series, Knot’s Landing.
Knot’s Landing was a spin-off of Dallas. And it ended up performing a good deal better in the ratings than Tabitha, with it becoming a major hit.
Lisa Hartman also found some success as a recording artist and had recorded the theme song to Tabitha, which was titled “It’s Magic”. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! While you’re at it, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way.
The spin-off series Tabitha didn’t feature any returning actors or actresses from it’s parent series Bewitched. Samantha and Darrin were nowhere to be found, although Tabitha was given an aunt by the name of Minerva. Karen Morrow, who is better known for her longtime work in musical theater, played this witchy character. Besides Karen Morrow, the cast of Tabitha was rounded out with several other stars playing new characters that were created solely for the spin-off.
Besides Lisa Hartman and Karen Morrow, Tabitha also featured Robert Urich and David Ankrum. Robert Urich played Tabitha’s boss at the television station, while David Ankrum played her brother, Adam. Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick Sargent both chose not to appear on the show in any capacity, though they may have ended up making appearances if the show had made it past 12 episodes.
Tabitha began airing in 1977, and only 12 episodes made it onto the air before ABC pulled the plug the following year. For a variety of reasons, the spin-off simply didn’t make a solid impression on the audience. The audience was likely confused about why Tabitha was now an adult and didn’t much appreciate that the show was essentially a routine blend of it’s parent series and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
While the majority of the people that worked on Bewitched didn’t return for Tabitha, director William Asher did. William Asher had directed many episodes of Bewitched and was unsure of what to say when asked to helm Tabitha. Though the director didn’t think the series was a great idea, he decided to do it just for the work. According to him, he thought that the series would have made a great deal more sense if it had followed an 11-year-old Tabitha.
According to William Asher, he felt that the new version of Tabitha, as played by actress Lisa Hartman, was simply too old to make an impression on the audience. Those in charge of the show felt that aging the character up would make her more like the character of Samantha. Since audiences loved Samantha, it stood to reason that they would prefer the character of Tabitha to be as much like her as possible.
There had been other ideas for a Bewitched spin-off that would have been more in line with what William Asher claims he would have preferred. In December of 1972, not too long after Bewitched had aired it’s final episode, an animated special aired on the ABC network by the name of “Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family”. The special was part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie Series, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. If the special had been more successful, it could’ve resulted in an animated series produced by the studio, though that never happened. Instead, the idea was scrapped and the world was given the live-action series Tabitha several years later.
Although William Asher had compromised his integrity in order to accept the paycheck that Tabitha had guaranteed him, Bewitched creator Sol Saks had balked at the chance to write the spin-off’s pilot. Although Sol Saks had no say in the network going forward with the spin-off, he had no obligation to offer his unique creative talents to it. Like William Asher, Sol Saks expressed that he thought the spin-off was poorly conceived. He pointed out the fact that the network was simply trying to replicate Bewitched instead of finding a unique identity more in line with the spirit of Tabitha’s character. Aligning with William once again, he felt the show would’ve been better off following a much younger Tabitha.
Although it’s hard to deny that Tabitha wasn’t a huge hit with audiences, the show can still be appreciated for what it was. The series featured Tabitha working at a television station in California by the name of KXLA. Her immediate boss at the station was Marvin Decker, played by Mel Stewart. However, they both answered to Paul Thurston, as played by Robert Urich. Paul Thurston was the star of the fictional The Paul Thurston Show, which was the series that Tabitha was tasked with working on by the network.
Tabitha’s younger brother, Adam, was given a role on the series as a fellow coworker at the television station. Meanwhile, the aforementioned aunt Minerva served a similar role that the character of Endora, Samantha’s mother, did on the show’s parent series, Bewitched.
Before Lisa Hartman had been hired to portray the character of Tabitha, a pilot episode had been filmed that featured actress Liberty Williams in the role. The pilot episode aired in April of 1976 and did well enough that the full series was ordered featuring Lisa Hartman. Sadly, the full series didn’t end up becoming a hit with audiences. Despite this, the original Bewitched continues to be an audience favorite.
Although the ill-fated Bewitched spin-off Tabitha only lasted for 12 episodes before it’s network pulled the plug, those episodes still survive as an oddity for those that still want more witch hijinks after binging every episode of it’s parent sitcom. Comment down below to share if you remembered Tabitha before we reminded you, or if you’re one of the few Bewitched fans that actually likes the failed spin-off! As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!