Episode 401: Bewitched

“I used to be a rational man, but things have been happening here that do not have a rational explanation.”

So here’s a puzzling question: Why is Angelique white?

I mean, you can follow the chain of associations that led Dark Shadows writer Sam Hall to the French Caribbean. In Hall’s second episode on the show, it’s revealed that Barnabas visited Barbados, where an Indian taught him the secret magic number of the universe, giving him the power to “unlock all the rules that bind you mortals to your daily, dull lives.”

Then, a few weeks later, when the writers decided to explore the story of how Barnabas became a vampire, it’s easy to chart the course to Martinique. The vampire curse is the result of a magic spell, and Hall’s already been thinking about the association between spells and the Caribbean. But Barbados was colonized by the English, and Josette Du Prés is French, so the backstory moves to Martinique, a French colony.

But Angelique doesn’t mess around with European magic — all that “eye of newt, toe of frog” stuff. She doesn’t fly on a broomstick, or live in a gingerbread house. Her magic has a strong Bayou flavor — she uses voodoo dolls, love potions and zombies, which are all associated with Haitian magic. So, following that thought to its logical conclusion, Angelique should be Haitian, or Island Carib, or pretty much anything besides blonde and blue-eyed.

But if she’s supposed to marry Barnabas, then that’s problematic, because it’s January 1968, and America be crazy.

The first interracial romance on daytime TV was on One Life to Live, starting in October 1968 — a relationship between an Italian woman, Carla Benari, and an African-American intern, Dr. Price Trainor. ABC received some angry letters about this, and the show was boycotted by some affiliates in the Southern states. About six months in, it was revealed that “Carla” was actually Clara Gray, an African-American woman who’d been passing for white.

Other things that people made a big deal about in 1968: a Petula Clark variety special where Clark touched Harry Belafonte on the arm, and a Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura were forced to kiss by telekenesis.

So a major storyline about Barnabas Collins marrying a Haitian voodoo priestess is seriously not going to happen. Instead, Dark Shadows has the hapless mortal marry a pretty blonde, who’s secretly a practicing witch. I wonder where they got that idea from?

401 bewitched advice

Well, maybe from Bewitched, the popular ABC situation comedy that in January 1968 was in the middle of its fourth season.

In today’s Dark Shadows episode, Barnabas is just on the verge of confirming that his wife is a witch, and it’s not going to sit well with him. It might help if they get some advice from Darrin and Samantha Stephens, and see what a healthy mortal/witch relationship looks like.

401 bewitched tea endora

So let’s take a look at a contemporary Bewitched episode — “If They Never Met”, which aired in late January, 1968.

On Bewitched, Samantha Stephens has the life that Angelique is dreaming of — a house in the suburbs with a young executive, plus a little baby sorceress in the nursery upstairs. Darrin loves and accepts Samantha, and he hardly even cares that she made his dark-haired ex-girlfriend marry his uncle and then jump off a cliff.

The only fly in the magical ointment is Samantha’s meddling mother, Endora, who loves playing tricks on her son-in-law. As today’s episode opens, Samantha is giving her mom a dressing-down for covering Darrin in shaving cream, and putting a live chicken in the coat closet.

401 bewitched doors

By the time Darrin is ready to leave for work — banging into a multiplying front door, and then getting into his car, which transforms into an undersized toy — he’s pretty fed up with the whole experience.

I mean, at least she doesn’t turn his father into a cat — that doesn’t happen until next season, and it’s Darrin’s mother who turns into a cat — but still, it’s pretty annoying.

401 dark shadows hang together

When Darrin gets to work, he finds that Endora’s put a live cobra in his briefcase, which terrifies an important client and gets him fired. He charges home to confront his wife.

Samantha:  You shouldn’t take my mother’s lack of credibility out on me!

Darrin:  Why not? You two hang together, don’t you?

Samantha:  “Hang” together? Just what do you mean by that?

Darrin:  Well, you know what I mean. When you get right down to the nitty-gritty, we know where your sympathies lie. Broomsticks are thicker than water!

401 bewitched suffers

So it turns out that Barnabas doesn’t have a lock on the witch-vixen issues. It makes me wish that Barnabas and Darrin could join a support group for guys who are married to witches. I wonder if there’s a “Spell-Anon” meeting they could attend.

401 bewitched happy

Then Samantha asks a question that she doesn’t really want to hear the answer to.

Samantha:  Maybe you’d be happier if you’d never met me, is that what you’re trying to say?

Darrin:  You said it, I didn’t!

Samantha:  What do you mean by that?

Darrin:  Make of it anything you want!

401 bewitched disappears

And then — blink! — Darren disappears.

After a moment, Endora pops in to explain that she heard what they were arguing about — apparently thanks to the communications monitoring by the National Sorcery Agency — and she arranged for Darrin to get his wish. Now, he’s in a world where he and Samantha never met.

401 bewitched journey

So now they’re taking an uncertain and frightening journey into an alternate timeline, to see if Darrin really is happier without Samantha.

401 bewitched office

And hey, guess what? He’s doing fine. He has a big office and lots of golfing trophies, and he’s about to be made a partner at the agency where he works.

401 bewitched engaged

And, worst of all — he’s engaged to Josette.

Technically, her name is Sheila, but she’s pretty much the same girl. Samantha recognizes her as Darrin’s old girlfriend, and she’s furious when she sees them carrying on as if he hasn’t got a supernatural wife at home.

401 bewitched putter

Just like Josette, Sheila has a wealthy father who’s connected to Darrin’s job, and they’ve got a luxurious honeymoon planned.

Samantha snarls, “I wonder how she’d look with that putter wrapped around her neck,” so apparently Angelique isn’t the only witch with a killer instinct. Sheila should probably stay away from clifftops. Maybe even avoid the beach entirely; it’s better to be safe.

401 bewitched party

But it turns out Darrin isn’t completely happy with this fantasy life. He sneaks away from his engagement party, feeling like something’s missing.

401 bewitched magic

Sitting at a bar, Darrin admits that he doesn’t really think he loves Sheila. “Maybe I’m expecting too much,” he sighs. “Maybe I’m looking for magic.”

401 bewitched meeting

Samantha can’t bear seeing him like this, so she makes a quick costume change, and bumps into him as he’s leaving the bar. He apologizes for his thoughtlessness, and buys her a drink.

401 bewitched ever after

And, obviously, you know how it develops from here. In this new timeline, she’s under a lot of time pressure — Darrin’s going to marry Sheila in just a few days.

So Samantha gets things rolling by using a toy soldier to make Darrin choke. Then she sends Darrin and Sheila a skull in a wig as a wedding present, and gives Sheila a magic potion that makes her fall in love with Darrin’s uncle. Darrin kills his uncle in a duel, and Samantha raises Darrin’s uncle from the dead to scare Sheila off for good.

And from there, it’s pretty much happy ever after. It’s just that easy.

Tomorrow: Plan A.

Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:

The wall of Collinwood’s basement is cracked, as if it’s old — but Collinwood was just finished a couple weeks ago.

Barnabas says to Ben, “I have an an– question to give you, and I want you to answer it truthfully.”

Also, when Samantha and Endora are flying, you can, like, totally see the wires.

Behind the Scenes:

Vicki’s jailer, Mr. Prescott, is played by Tom Gorman, who shows up in various fill-in roles in 18 episodes during 1967 and 1968. This is the only one who has a name. In other episodes, he plays a bartender, a Blue Whale customer, one of the Collins family servants who carries Barnabas’ coffin, and a judge. He plays Mr. Prescott again in a second appearance in November.

A note from local prop-spotter Prisoner of the Night: “The interview room of the Collinsport Gaol is redressed from Barnabas’ first room at the Old House — originally the set for Roger’s cannery office in 1966. It has the same two windows, the same two-foot-high run of wood paneling along the lower part of the back and left walls, the same vertical dark brown strip of wood paneling in the corner at stage left, the same two doors, the same L-shaped wood-paneled block in the corner at stage right, and the same fireplace just inside the door of stage right. The set is redressed again as Joshua’s office at the shipyard in episoe 434.” PotN is amazing, isn’t he?

Tomorrow: Plan A.

401 bewitched pose

Dark Shadows episode guide

— Danny Horn

36 thoughts on “Episode 401: Bewitched

  1. I also remember Samantha’s troublemaking cousin Sarina – I can’t remember if another actress played that role or if it was Elizabeth Montgomery playing the role in a black wig (much like the awful one Lara Parker had to wear to play Roger’s wife Cassandra). Roger certainly knew how to pick his wives (first Laura the Phoenix then Cassandra/Angelique the Witch). It would have been wonderful to have had a storyline focusing on Angelique’s history and how she became a witch. I vaguely remember some plot with her going back to 1692 towards the end of the shoes run but don’t remember the particulars of that story.

  2. This is actually the second time they did this script (they repeated several episodes after they got the magic of color) and this is one of my favorite Bewitched episodes. Shelia was Darren’s ex-girlfriend from the pilot which is actually pretty good if you don’t want to actually explain anything. It sort of reminds me of the Greg and Dharma pilot that way. Anyway this is one of my favorite episodes because it’s one of the times when Darren actually has to prove his love for Samantha rather than the other way around. In general, and yes I’ve had conversations about this, given the choice between Samantha-Darren’s relationship and Jeannie-Tony’s I’d take Jeannie-Tony’s because he might hide her but he never asks her to be less than she is and that’s typically Darren’s MO. He insists Samantha learn all about mortal culture, but does he ever learn about witch culture? No. And he also really wants Samantha to turn her back on her relatives, true they all play tricks on him, but usually because he’s just tried to kick them out of the house.

  3. Elizabeth Montgomery also used a pseudonym to play that role, “Pandora Spocks.” Someone had to finally point out to me (very recently) that “Pandora Spocks” is a play on “Pandora’s Box.”

    Speaking of similarities, I don’t know this BEWITCHED episode very well, but I know that Sheila is played by Nancy Kovacks, who seemed to make a partial career out of playing witches herself. She was Medea in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. And of course Medea ends up in a triangle with Jason and another woman in later mythology (though not in that actual movie).

  4. If you’re going to change the channel whenever there’s a boring episode, then I assume that when you eventually get to the pre-Barnabas episodes, it will be 209 posts about everything else that was on TV in 1966.

  5. The fact that Barnabas had been teaching Ben to write became a crucial plot point. I wonder if the writers had planned it that far in advance, or if they had Barnabas teaching Ben to write only because it helped to establish pre-vampire Barnabas as a somewhat nice guy, and then it turned out to be fortunate for them that they had that point established.

  6. Maybe I shouldn’t nitpick about this but I can’t find any source where there were still statutes against the practise of witchcraft in the year 1795 in the United States. The Salem witch trials were one hundred years prior and even then the authorities considered that they had gone too far after a number of people had already died.

    I presume that the Witchcraft Act of 1735 enacted by the United Kingdom which explicitly made it illegal to go around accusing others of witchcraft was still in effect by way of reception statute once the US became independent was still in effect–therefore making Abigail’s and Trask’s shenanigans completely implausible. Basically, Trask should have been charged with kidnapping and assault when he forcibly tied Victoria to a tree (and for accusing her of witchcraft).

    Anyway, I digress. I suppose it’s easier in hindsight to criticize these historical inaccuracies. The writers for Dark Shadows did not have access to the internet at the time. But still, Tv writers really should consult historians when writing drama set in certain historical settings.

    1. Dark Shadows had enough trouble simply keeping track of its OWN weird history. Never mind having to write around or ignore all that secret magic number of the universe business or grapple with the ever-changing facts of who Josette actually came to Collinsport to marry — if Dark Shadows had consulted with actual historians about the past, the whole show’s writing would have been impossible.

    2. Of course, the historical anomalies about witchcraft and its legality/illegality are pertinent, and DS clearly makes a hash of much of anything in terms of historical accuracy. At the same time, if one did want to rationalize what’s going on in the show, one could argue that Collinsport is a backwater town, and what the Collins family says goes there, and they can easily control the short arm of the law. This is the 18th century, so it’s completely plausible that higher-than-local authorities won’t necessarily know what’s going on this remote place (or perhaps even care). I’m sure that if li’l ol’ Collinsport wanted to have a witchcraft trial, they’d just go ahead and do it if the Collins family was OK with it, and no one would probably be the wiser (just as, by his won admission, Joshua was perfectly willing to make up a story and cover up the fact that Jeremiah died as the result of a duel with Barnabas).

    3. Considering they were winging it with the mishmash of literary tropes and they hewed “The Crucible” to the 1795 Timeline, even if they had WIkipedia, they would have shrugged, “Eh, Close Enough.”

      I’d handwave that the District of Maine (not the Province of Maine) would have been considered “The Boonies”, and with weird crap going around with some guy in black claiming to be a reverend, with a young girl he’s accusing of being a witch, and ranting about the Devil if you say otherwise, the Collinsport locals would have shrugged, “Eh, Close Enough.”

  7. “Those doubts I have no longer.” Barnabas sometimes delivers a line perfectly, other times he stumbles. This line was perfectly delivered.

  8. You refer to Angelique as blue-eyed. If you’ll examine the close-up screenshots of Lara Parker, you’ll see she has green eyes.

  9. So here is my question. Is Vicki taking the place of Phyllis Wick and everything that happens to her would have happened to Wick. Vicki’s presence really hasn’t changed anything. She’s only told Barnabas that she’s from the future and that hasn’t changed the plot at all. If they are really just inserting Vicki in, then why the drastic change in the Barnabas/Josette story. You mean these writers couldn’t figure out a way to keep the original story in tact and work Angelique in.
    As for the similarity between LP and EM, I am sure that was on purpose. Keep the witches on ABC all in the same look.

  10. I know they aren’t Canon, but one of Lara Parker’s novels, ‘Angelique’s Descent,’ came up with a logical explanation for Angelique’s look.

  11. “Darrin loves and accepts Samantha…”

    I… um… what? The entire narrative engine of Bewitched is that Darrin doesn’t accept Sam, and wants her to be ‘a normal wife’ – in his first meeting with Endora in the fourth episode, she asks him why he can’t accept who Sam is; he replies that he does love her for who she is and that she doesn’t need “all that nonsense”, thus demonstrating that he has no clue what ‘loving someone for who they are’ means. Honestly, the show is a whole treatise on cultural erasure – as long as she abandons her heritage, personal skills and family, and takes the role of a doting housewife, he’ll love her just fine.

    (I love the show for Sam and Endora, but can only watch a few episodes at a time because Darrin’s such a dick. It’s sort of a hobby of mine to idly wonder how I’d reboot the series, if someone were insane enough to let me try…)

    1. Yes, Bewitched is not an example of loving someone for who they are. It is also a look at keeping women from using what powers they have, so the man can continue to be “the man of the house”. It really did reflect a lot of how society viewed the role of women in that era.

      1. Times change. There’s an early episode where Darrin and Larry think Samantha is pregnant. Actually, both Samantha and Louise know Louise is pregnant. Yet nobody objects when both Samantha and Louise have an alcoholic drink.

    2. That’s what always annoyed me about Bewitched. On I Dream Of Jeannie, Maj. Nelson at least had a rational reason why he wanted to keep Jeannie’s true nature and powers secret: if Dr. Bellows finds out about her, he’s likely going to be cashiered from NASA if not the Air Force as well. And while he doesn’t exactly like Jeannie doing magic for him because he wants to do things for himself, he also doesn’t insist she suppress her entire personality and nature just for his own satisfaction.

      Yeah, Darrin’s a dick. He loves Samantha but only on his own terms and he has to “put up” with all the magic stuff to have any kind of life with her at all. No wonder Endora hates him. Darrin Stevens is only a bit less of a Muggle than Vernon Dursley.

  12. Danny: “Spell-Anon.” Hysterical.

    “Heart of fire……fire burning in the heart of ice.”

    So a lot of discussion about “Fire and Ice,” and the heat shimmering on the bed yet when Vicki puts her hand through it, she feels as if she’s reached into a heart of ice. This is a strange 35 year foreshadowing for the great George R.R. Marten magnum opus, “A Song of Fire and Ice,” which is, of course, GAME OF THRONES (still waiting on Book 6 after almost a decade, for shame, George). As metaphors go, “fire and ice” nicely sums up the character roster currently–some bring the heat (Trask, Abigail), and some are cool, aloof, calculating (Angelique, Josette, Namoi) so to kick off the 400 series of episodes, we are definitely getting awesome temperature gauges on things.

    Ben hitting poor Barnabas over the head with a bottle–didn’t see that coming. Ben and Barnabas are really awesome in their teaser and Act One scene together. And Roger is equally wound tight for his scene.’

    Then, we come, once again, to the now jailed, poor, put-upon Victoria Winters. And are treated to our first real recap in some time.

    I have been wanting to comment on how strange it was for Vicki to tell Barnabas that she is, in fact, from “another time.” I am not sure what the writers hoped to achieve with that but it’s pretty much a dead end because there’s not a whole lot you can do with it. I would think Barnabas would become more and more wary of her as her “crazy talk” can’t really help her sell her case as to who and what she is. Yet it keeps getting mentioned in every episode.

    There is a great moment near the end of the episode where Barnabas is with Ben in what looks like a new set (maybe a re-purposed Blue Whale?) and says, “And you’re going to be safe TOO, Ben.” He has to do a quick head swing towards the TelePrompTer to get the end of the line.

    Finally, the great curtain moment with Ben changing the V to an A in the dust, thus spelling out the first letter of actually who the witch really is: Paging Nathaniel Hawthorne and THE SCARLET LETTER of which this past month or so of episodes really is beginning to feel like they are emulating.

    When in the world do we ever get to the actual how-does-Barnabas-become-a-vampire storyline???? Because right now we have a long check list of things to accomplish before that even seems possible (the Sarah demise; Josette off a cliff, etc.)

    1. I believe where Ben is hiding is the fishing shack set that is used in the pre-Barnabas episodes–when Roger and Vicky are stranded in a thunderstorm on their way back from Bangor and used prominently at the end of the Phoenix story line (and may be the same shack set that is used much later in the 1840 story line).

  13. Danny–LOVED the BEWITCHED memory lane post. Some of my fondest memories of one of the ultimate camp vamps is, of course, Agnes Morehead. What a talent she was!

    And weren’t there like 3 or 4 Darrin’s in the course of the run of the show? LOL

    1. Just two Darrins. But there were also two Louise Tates, two Frank Stevenses (Darrin’s father) and two Alice Kravitzes. And of course, twins played Tabitha (at least in her early years) and Adam Stevens, their children.

    1. Dr. Bombay (Bernard Fox), Maurice (Samantha’s father, played by Maurice Evans), Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne), Esmerelda (Alice Ghostley)–some great characters and actors on that show!

  14. Really strong work from Frid, Edmonds, and Thayer David in this episode.

    While I love Liz Montgomery as much as the next red-blooded American male, give me Nancy Kovack every time.

    Let’s not forget another link between DS and Bewitched: Agnes Moorehead and Grayson Hall (who bore a certain resemblance to each other) played siblings in a 1970 Night Gallery episode. The Title? “Certain Shadows on the Wall.” Hmmmmm…was Rod Serling a fan?

  15. The dramatic intensity in Ben’s knocking Barnabas unconscious in a panicked attempt to save the both of them from Angelique’s wrath is very effective. This builds to the audience-pleasing “‘A ‘ for Angelique” scene– IMO, one of the most memorable moments of the entire 1795 flashback.

  16. That’s a good episode of BEWITCHED, one of the stronger 4th season scripts in my opinion; lot of meat on it, and some clever lines. It was nice of that one lady in the bar to provide popcorn for everyone with her Jiffy Pop hat.

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