Do you remember watching Bewitched when you were growing up? It was a unique show about a witch who tried to adapt to “normal” American suburban life. The show ran for 8 seasons for a total of 254 episodes. But it ended rather abruptly with the final episode.
So, what was it about this final episode? What was the scene that made the studio decide that Bewitched had to come to an end? And, if we’re going to speak of endings, what about how Bewitched get its start?
Bewitched was one of the best American sitcoms of all time. No doubt fans were disappointed when it finally came to an end and, to this day, fans are still wondering why the show ended so abruptly.
Let’s learn about the scene that took Bewitched off the air…
Bewitched first hit our TV screens on September 17, 1964. We were introduced to Darrin and Samantha Stephens. Darrin Stephens, first played by Dick York and later, by Dick Sargent, was the typical suburban American husband that audiences were already used to seeing.
But what made the show unique was Samantha Stephens, who wasn’t quite the ‘typical’ suburban American housewife. She was a witch who often had to keep her magical powers a secret from everyone else.
This unique backstory to the show had been attempted a few times before. The show’s creator, Sol Saks had several inspirations for the show. He was inspired by the film I Married a Witch and the film and play, Bell, Book and Candle.
These works dealt with seemingly ordinary humans who possessed supernatural and magical powers. Audiences clearly loved Bewitched and found the dynamic between ‘real’ life and the magical world to be hilarious!
Bewitched Biggest Challenges
One of the biggest challenges that the show’s creators had to contend with was when Dick York left the show. Dick York had felt exhausted as the show became more popular. The show was one of America’s most popular sitcoms, and as such, the cast were expected to work around the clock.
This took a major toll on Dick York’s wellbeing. During production in the 5th season, he was suffering from a very high temperature. He continued to work with this high temperature and ended up in the hospital due to his ill health.
He had had enough of the show and wanted to step away to focus on his health. Dick Sargant replaced Dick York as Darrin Stephens for the remainder of the series. The character replacement was unusual for the time, but audiences didn’t mind – and the show carried on. Dick Sargant played the role from seasons 6 to 8.
But the show eventually came to an abrupt end with its final episode…
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While audiences seemed to love Bewitched till the very end, it seemed that it couldn’t compete with other great sitcoms of the time. By the end of the sixth season, the ratings were low, and it was clear that the show couldn’t go on – in this case.
But the studio had agreed to allow the show to continue for a final two seasons. It was rumored that a ninth season was planned though this wouldn’t come to fruition due to the show’s dwindling popularity.
Bewitched Enticing Series Finale
The show had to end somehow, and, in such situations, a show’s creator should come up with an enticing series finale. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Bewitched. Elizabeth Montgomery had also become tired of playing the role and wanted to move on. At the same time, it was unusual in those days for creators to know if their shows would get renewed for another season. As such, the show didn’t need to come to a definitive end. An ordinary episode with an ordinary story would suffice.
So, what was the scene that took Bewitched off the air? Rather than a single scene, it was the realization that the final episode was a thinly disguised remake of a previous episode.
In the final episode, entitled “The Truth, Nothing but the truth, so help me Sam,” Endora gives Darrin a pin that forces him to always tell the truth. It was a remake of an episode that aired back in 1965 entitled, “Speak the Truth.”
After 7 years, it seemed that the studio hoped that audiences had forgotten about the previous episode and wouldn’t realize the blatant re-working of an old story. The story is supposed to expose whether Darrin was truly committed to Samantha. As the show lasted for 8 seasons and over 250 episodes, it was clear that he was.
One of the notable features of this final episode is that it featured Sara Seeger who had made a few guest appearances on the show before. But sadly, this wasn’t the episode that fans wanted to see. By this time, the show had lost its initial charm and this final episode didn’t match up to the quality of previous episodes from earlier seasons.
As such, it wasn’t a particular scene but an entire episode that took Bewitched off the air. But with the constant low ratings, it was clear that the show’s time had come. One may have wished for things to be different. But the show had a great run and is still remembered fondly today…
While Elizabeth Montgomery is best remembered for her role as Samantha Stephens in Bewitched, she had a love-hate relationship with acting. Following her role on Bewitched, she became very selective with her choice of roles and didn’t want to commit to such a long TV series ever again. Elizabeth focused mainly on acting in TV movies for the rest of her career.
Elizabeth Montgomery certainly was a shrewd entrepreneur in addition to her acting. She owned 20% of Bewitched and earned royalties from the show whenever it aired for the remainder of her life. This financial security gave her the freedom to be more selective with her roles.
She reportedly didn’t always enjoy working with Dick York who was in love with her – but she didn’t feel the same way as their on-screen characters. She originally wanted to quit the show following the fifth season.
But the offer of more money is what kept her for the remaining seasons, and she put up with a show that she had grown tired of. Perhaps the lack of enthusiasm on set from the cast and crew members is what caused the show’s popularity to fade.
Elizabeth Montgomery Marriage
Elizabeth Montgomery was married to Bill Asher who was the producer of the show. As Bewitched had been a financial success, it was entirely understandable that he wanted the show to go on for as long as possible. Luckily, the show managed to become one of the longest-running sitcoms of its time. In fact, as far as “fantasy” sitcoms were concerned, it was the longest running sitcom of its time!
While Dick Sargent loved the role and was happy to take over from Dick York, it seemed that, by the mid-1970s, the creators and the audience were no longer bewitched…
Despite the popularity waning away after the 5th and 6th seasons, there was an audience for Bewitched until the very end. The show’s cancellation was abrupt, but one wonders if a ninth season would have succeeded.
Nevertheless, it remains one of the most popular American sitcoms of all time. While the ratings dropped quite drastically with the new casting of Dick Sargent, there were also plenty of fans who loved the change, and the show went on.
Agnes Moorehead, who played Endora, wasn’t too keen on the change and had loved working with Dick York. Nevertheless, this didn’t hinder the quality of the show until the very end and it continuing to get regular viewing.
The show became part of the American lexicon. For example, the nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz had such an impact that the very name “Gladys Kravitz” became a euphemism for someone who doesn’t mind their own business. This occurred even though the actual Gladys Kravitz was a relatively minor character.
It was one of the first TV shows to make the transition from being shot in black and white to color. The change occurred with season two, episode 38.
Bewitched Awards and Nomination
The show received several Primetime Emmy Nominations and won 3 awards. Bill Asher won an Emmy award for his direction of the show in 1966. The same year, Alice Pearce won an award for Best Actress in a Supporting role.
Marion Lorne won an award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as “Aunt Clara” in 1968. The show is often written about as one of America’s most-beloved sitcoms of all times. It remains a classic show that is still loved by older generations and continues to get discovered by new generations.
While he eventually left the show, Darrin Stephens remains one of Dick York’s best-known roles. And for some of us, we’ll always be bewitched by Elizabeth Montgomery and her portrayal of Samantha Stephens…
Are you a fan of Bewitched? What do you think of the final episode?
Now, we’d like to know your opinion:
Do you think that Bewitched still holds up today? Or is the humor and style of acting too dated for newer audiences?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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