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The Last Witching Hours

August 25, 1991|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Get out your handkerchiefs. It's time for "The Last Twitch."

Samantha, Darrin, Endora, Tabitha and the "Bewitched" gang are packing up their magic bag of tricks on Nick at Nite and traveling to Hiatusville.

This Wednesday, Nick is bidding a fond farewell to the Stephens household with eight episodes of the best of "Bewitched."

"Bewitched" has been a part of American pop culture since it premiered Sept. 17, 1964. The genesis of the series, though, began decades earlier. "Bewitched" is loosely based on a 1942 fantasy-comedy "I Married a Witch," starring Fredric March and Veronica Lake.

"Bewitched" was an immediate hit. It placed No. 2 in the ratings during its first season and was among the Top 25 series through 1970.

The premise of "Bewitched" was simple and silly: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy marries girl, boy discovers girl is a witch.

What made "Bewitched" special was the cast. Elizabeth Montgomery, the daughter of '30s and '40s film star Robert Montgomery, had toiled on her father's series ("Robert Montgomery Presents") during the '50s and appeared in a few minor films. She found her niche as the nose-twitching witch, Samantha.

Dick York was comic perfection as her befuddled hubbie, Darrin. Agnes Moorehead, who had been a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater, found a whole new audience as Samantha's elegant but cynical mother, Endora.

Two other veteran farceurs, George Tobias and Alice Pearce, played Sam and Darrin's perplexed and often hysterical neighbors, Abner and Gladys Kravitz. And rounding out the cast was David White as Darrin's boss, Larry Tate.

Blinking in and out of the proceedings were Maurice Evans, who had made his name as one of the great Shakespearean actors of modern times, as Samantha's sophisticated warlock father, Maurice; Marion Lorne ("Strangers on a Train") was Sam's scatterbrained Aunt Clara and she won the series' only acting Emmy in 1968, and Mr. "Hollywood Square" himself--Paul Lynde--was Samantha's looney Uncle Arthur.

"Bewitched" ran for eight seasons. Over the years, cast members came and went. York left in '69 and was replaced by Dick Sargent. Pearce died of cancer in '66; Sandra Gould took over as Mrs. Kravitz. Twins Erin and Diane Murphy joined the cast in '66 as Samantha and Darrin's first child, Tabitha, while David and Greg Lawrence played their second offspring, Adam, who was born during the 1969-70 season.

Highlights of Nick's "The Last Twitch":

8 p.m.--"I, Darrin, Take This Witch Samantha"--The first episode has Darrin discover on his wedding night that he has married a witch.

8:30 p.m.--"Mother, Meet What's His Name"--Endora meets Darrin for the first time.

9:30 p.m.--"Just One Happy Family"--Samantha introduces Darrin to her father, Maurice, who doesn't know Darrin is a mortal.

10 p.m.--"A Very Special Delivery"--Darrin learns he is to be a father.

10:30 p.m.--"The Joker is a Card"--Uncle Arthur plays a series of practical jokes on Darrin and Endora.

11:30 p.m.--"What Every Young Man Should Know"--Endora sends Darrin and Samantha into the past to see if Darrin would have married Samantha if he knew she was a witch.

"The Last Twitch" airs Wednesday 8 p.m.-midnight on Nickelodeon.

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