With “Mad Men” off air till 2012, broadcasters have announced they may fill the gap left by the smash hit sixties series by showing the little seen “Bewitched” spin off series “Darrin Stephens; Bewitched Nights”.
While the popular 1960s sitcom focussed on the adventures of a beautiful young witch living in an upstate New York suburb with her handsome young Madison Avenue advertising executive husband, the spin off series had a darker tone.
Instead of magical high jinks, it focused on Darrin’s life at a Manhattan advertising firm. He is presented as a conflicted troubled man, torn between life at a cut throat Madison Avenue ad agency and his idyllic existance in the suburbs married to a witch. Viewers were however surprised and turned off by chain smoking Darrin’s affairs with secretaries, use of prostitutes and battles with booze.
Attempts to retain some of the parent shows lighter whimsical feel were unsuccessful. Episodes included a hilarious trip to a New York strip club where Darrin, unaware his mother in law has accidently turned him into a unicorn, fails to impress clients, the controversial mermaid forced abortion story arch and the clients dinner almost ruined by Darrin’s secret brother from his past life reappearing.
Audiences also rejected the new focus put on wife Samantha’s soulless existence in suburban America, her inability to reconcile inner demons with the barrenness of the American dream; all while being a witch. Memorably, her famous twitch was used to suggest substance abuse. The couple’s daughter Tabitha also became a more rebellious character, memorably rebelling against her mother’s coldness by masturbating on a couch during a during a goblin sleepover. There were also complaints that Darrin’s long suffering best friend Larry’s descent into heroin addiction in Greenwich village was sensationalistic. The series was axed after one season, with actor Dick York resigning in protest