Monday, April 4, 2011

Lisa Hartman & Robert Urich in Tabitha (1976)

Obscurity factor: 7

Bewitched was quite a phenomenon in its time. It was hugely popular and continues to be an iconic American sitcom. That's why in 1976 it must have seemed a good idea to spin it off into a new series featuring daughter Tabitha, all grown up and on her own. Unfortunately, spinoffs of highly popular shows have a heavy burden to carry. The memory of the original show, deep pink with a rosy glow of fondness is frequently too much for the new show to live up to. That's part of the problem with Tabitha. If you loved Bewitched, then you want the show to be as good, if you didn't, then you probably wouldn't watch in the first place.

Lisa Hartman is Tabitha, all grown up and working in a television station in LA. Her brother Adam has gotten her a job as an administrative assistant to Paul Thurston, an egomaniacal television host, played by a young Robert Urich so gorgeous it makes you weak in the knees. She's frequently visited by her aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) who is always meddling in her affairs with witchcraft. Adam, who takes after his father, doesn't like that. The show has a certain charm of its own, though the character development frequently blows in what ever direction the wind of the plot takes it and the story lines are at times more implausible than they should be. But it succeeds in the most important aspect of any sitcom - the characters are fun to watch and very likable. Lisa Hartman is also a real dish with an exquisite figure and hair that rivals Farrah's.

This section is a bit nit-picky, so if you're not that interested in trivia then skip it and go right to the video. There are some odd conceits carried over from the original series, but not until they're twisted on their ears. Minerva was never in the cast of the original series and it's odd that Samantha never mentioned having a sister. Adam, who acts more like an older brother than a younger one is presented as a mortal, not a warlock. This is vaguely plausible because the series never really developed the character of Adam, he was too young. There was an episode where his powers were tested and it was determined that he did have them, but Maurice (Samantha's father) helped him along a bit. The last oddity is the timing. The original series ended in 1972 and the new series in 1976 had Tabitha about 23 or 24 years old. Erin Murphy, who played Tabitha in the original show would have been 12 in 1976.

This series has recently been released on DVD and if you're a Bewitched fan it's worth a look, as long as you don't keep your expectations too high. Lisa Hartman sings a catchy theme on most of the episodes and look for Bewitched veterans Mr. & Mrs. Kravitz, Dr. Bombay and the drunk man that Darren always saw in that bar in various episodes. Above is the first installment of the pilot episode, uploaded to YouTube by 1970sFeel.

Obscurity factor: 7 (available on DVD, largely forgotten and known mostly to hard core Bewitched fans)


  1. Migosh, I watched the premiere of this series when I was seven years old. I remember my mother putting my hair in sponge rollers during the show.