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Bewitched was one of the biggest and most well received sitcoms of the 1960s. In over forty years its appeal and endurance has clearly not diminished in the slightest – a feature film has recently been made staring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, and now this DVD box set arrives with great success.

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Series
The series ran for eight years (from ’64 to ’72) and captivated a large portion of American television viewers at the time. It was also one of the biggest shows of its day, attracting millions and having a massive influence on the people it touched. Bewitched almost single-handedly brought about the ‘girl power’ formula we take for granted today, with its lead star Elizabeth Montgomery practically inventing the role model. In as many words, this show is not to be underestimated nor overlooked. It might be pink and fluffy, cute and cuddly (forgive the alliteration there), but its influence on modern television and culture can be seen almost everywhere today.

If there is one aspect of it that can be picked at then I suppose you could say that its attitude is a little dated with the typical housewife character that Montgomery plays, and all other relevant themes. But during the course of the season you begin to see that she is a powerful character, and she is easily the archetypal women's liberationist that would eventually lead to the equal society we live in today. I guess that’s what was so great about this show; it had a strong female lead and a character that was fully self aware. But most importantly, someone a great deal of people could relate to. This and only a small handful of other ‘60s shows were as evolutionary.

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Aside from all of those important issues however, Bewitched was and still is pure and unrelenting entertainment. It is through its cuteness that the charm and feel-good factor emerge above all else. It might not be as hilarious as Friends or Frasier, but it is every bit as warm and sentimental (in a good kind of way of course). I found that it could quite easily slap a wide smile on to my face through its innocence, and its uncanny ability to cast a spell over the viewer is often pretty amazing. For better or worse, Bewitched is a defining sitcom and it comes very highly recommended.

There are a rather daunting thirty six episodes in this first season (yes, you read that right), and each run for about twenty minutes or so. Here is the complete episode list for season one: 'I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha', 'Be it Ever So Mortgaged', 'Mother Meet's What's His Name', 'It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog', 'Help, Help, Don't Save Me', 'Little Pitchers Have Big Fears', 'The Witches Are Out', 'The Girl Reporter', 'Witch or Wife?', 'Just One Happy Family', 'It Takes One to Know One'

'And Something Makes Three', 'Love is Blind', 'Samantha Meets the Folks', 'A Vision of Sugar Plums', 'It's Magic', 'A is for Aardvark', 'The Cat's Meow', 'A Nice Little Dinner Party', 'Your Witch is Showing', 'Ling Ling', 'Eye of the Beholder', 'Red Light, Green Light', 'Which Witch is Which?', 'Pleasure O'Reilly', 'Driving is the Only Way to Fly', 'There's No Witch Like an Old Witch', 'Open the Door Witchcraft', 'Abner Kadabra', 'George the Warlock', 'That Was My Wife', 'Illegal Separation', 'A Change of Face', 'Remember the Main', 'Eat at Mario's' and 'Cousin Edgar'

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Video
The image on this first season DVD is actually better than I first thought it would be. There is a lot of grain and artefacts present here, but let’s face it, this is a forty year old television show. Naturally, it is bound to come laden with crap peppered all over it, but make no mistake; Bewitched looks excellent for its aging years. The colours (yes, it is now in full colour) and resolution are modest, not to mention the animated title sequence. All in all, this is the best the show has ever looked. And, the best you could ever hope to see it.

Audio
Dolby Digital Mono is the only flavour to listen to this sitcom, but it does actually sound pretty decent. Dialogue is strictly flat and uncharacteristic, as expected, but there is really nothing else in the way of sound – except from the slight muffling noise that is the musical score. I can’t really complain about that though, after all this is a very old show and the pops and crackles every now and then actually add to the quality. It’s like listening to a very old vinyl record; it has a sort of vintage quality to it. Most importantly though, the dialogue and all other important stuff is audible, and I have no qualms with the mono soundtrack whatsoever.

Extras
There are only two special features on offer here: The Magic Unveiled; which is a pretty loose behind the scenes ‘making of’, and lastly a feature called Clip Compilation. And that, as they say, is that. Neither feature offers any sufficient documentation of the show, nor anything radically exciting. Still, the menu system is pretty funky and slick.

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Overall
Bewitched is a great little pink and fluffy sitcom you can easily get lost in. It is laced with great writing, acting and stories which have proven to be timeless. Indeed, it would seem that forty-something years on the air has not diluted its core themes or messages or even charm in the slightest – this is a truly perpetual piece and one that will go on and on, now more than ever, thanks to this mostly well presented DVD from Sony.

You are really going to purchase this set only for its episodic content; its extras leave something to be desired and the A/V aspects are far from pearly. Though, in saying that, for an old television show it both looks and sounds better than it has ever done before. Because of this, I have decided to bump the score for the audio and video up one point. Overall, Bewitched is a great show that I hope will find a whole new generation of folk to charm and weave its timeless magic over. It comes highly recommended.


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