Tabitha (TV series)

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Tabitha
Tabitha title.jpg
Still from opening title sequence for Tabitha
GenreFantasy sitcom
Created byJerry Mayer
Directed byCharles S. Dubin
William Asher
Charles Rondeau
Murray Golden
Herb Wallerstein
George Tyne
Bruce Bilson
StarringLisa Hartman
David Ankrum
Robert Urich
Mel Stewart
Karen Morrow
Theme music composerJeff Barry
Opening theme"It Could Be Magic" performed by Lisa Hartman
Ending theme"It Could Be Magic"
Composer(s)Shorty Rogers
Dick DeBenedictis
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13
Production
Executive producer(s)Jerry Mayer
Producer(s)Robert Stambler
William Asher
George Yanok
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)Columbia Pictures Television
Ashmont Productions[1]
DistributorColumbia TriStar Domestic Television
Sony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Audio formatMonaural
Original runApril 24, 1976 (1976-04-24) – January 14, 1978 (1978-01-14)
Chronology
Preceded byBewitched
 
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Tabitha
Tabitha title.jpg
Still from opening title sequence for Tabitha
GenreFantasy sitcom
Created byJerry Mayer
Directed byCharles S. Dubin
William Asher
Charles Rondeau
Murray Golden
Herb Wallerstein
George Tyne
Bruce Bilson
StarringLisa Hartman
David Ankrum
Robert Urich
Mel Stewart
Karen Morrow
Theme music composerJeff Barry
Opening theme"It Could Be Magic" performed by Lisa Hartman
Ending theme"It Could Be Magic"
Composer(s)Shorty Rogers
Dick DeBenedictis
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13
Production
Executive producer(s)Jerry Mayer
Producer(s)Robert Stambler
William Asher
George Yanok
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)Columbia Pictures Television
Ashmont Productions[1]
DistributorColumbia TriStar Domestic Television
Sony Pictures Television
Broadcast
Original channelABC
Audio formatMonaural
Original runApril 24, 1976 (1976-04-24) – January 14, 1978 (1978-01-14)
Chronology
Preceded byBewitched

Tabitha is an American fantasy sitcom that aired during the 1977-1978 season on ABC. It is a spin-off of Bewitched, which had ended its run five years earlier in 1972. The series stars Lisa Hartman in the title role as Tabitha, Samantha and Darrin Stephens' daughter who was introduced on Bewitched during its second season.

In the series, Tabitha is portrayed as a 20-something production assistant living and working in Los Angeles. The supporting cast includes David Ankrum as Tabitha's brother Adam with whom she works, Robert Urich as an egomaniacal talk show host who is a sometime love interest for Tabitha, and Mel Stewart as Tabitha and Adam's cranky but loveable boss. Unlike Bewitched, which was a hit for ABC and aired for eight seasons, Tabitha failed to catch on with viewers and was canceled after one season.

Overview[edit]

Tabitha first originated as a pilot that aired on ABC on April 24, 1976. The episode used the variant spelling Tabatha for the title, and starred Liberty Williams in the title role. Bruce Kimmel portrayed her brother, Adam Stephens.[2] The major difference between the pilot and the series was that Adam was a full-fledged and mischievous warlock in the pilot, but was made a mortal for the series (thus making him the disapproving figure as Darrin had been). In the first pilot, Tabatha was an editorial assistant for the fictional Trend magazine, lived in San Francisco, and had a boyfriend named Cliff (Archie Hahn). She also contended with the supernatural antics of Adam.[3] In situations that were very similar to "I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha", the pilot episode of Bewitched, Tabatha tells Cliff that she is a witch, who at first does not believe her, but later discovers that she is telling the truth. Also, much like her mother did when she used her powers to deflect the unwanted affections of Sheila Sommers, her father's former fiancee, Tabatha deflects rival Dinah Nichols (Barbara Rhoades) from seducing Cliff.

The first pilot (directed by Bewitched producer/director William Asher) did not sell the series. A second pilot starring Lisa Hartman was produced that interested ABC who bought the series.[4] In the second version, Hartman replaced Liberty Williams as Tabitha Stephens, the daughter of Samantha and Darrin. Tabitha is now a 20-something witch working as a production assistant at KXLA television station in Los Angeles. Working with her is her now-older and mortal brother Adam (David Ankrum) who admonishes her use of witchcraft. Her previously unmentioned Aunt Minerva (Karen Morrow) pops in frequently to encourage her to use her witchcraft. Robert Urich is Tabitha's boss and romantic interest.

The revised Tabitha pilot aired on ABC on May 7, 1977.[5] The series debuted on the fall schedule on September 10, 1977.

William Asher, who worked on the first pilot, had little to do with the second version of the series. While he directed a few episodes, namely the ones that feature Bernard Fox, George Tobias and Sandra Gould as their original Bewitched characters, he otherwise remained as an advisor.[4]

Characters[edit]

Guest stars[edit]

Several Bewitched characters appeared on Tabitha. In the series' second episode, "Tabitha's Weighty Problem", Bernard Fox reprises his role as Dr. Bombay, and again in the last episode, "Tabitha's Party", in which the character's first name, "Hubert" is revealed. The sixth episode, "The Arrival of Nancy", features George Tobias and Sandra Gould as Abner and Gladys Kravitz. Dick Wilson, who played the "drunk guy" on Bewitched appeared in the episodes "Halloween Show" and the final episode. Mary Grace Canfield, who appeared on four episodes of Bewitched as Abner Kravitz's sister Harriet Kravitz, also guest starred albeit as another character. Other guest stars include:

Episodes[edit]

Episode #Episode TitleOriginal Airdate
0"Tabatha" (Pilot #1)April 24, 1976
1"Tabitha" (Pilot #2)May 7, 1977
2"Tabitha's Weighty Problem"September 10, 1977
3"Halloween Show"November 12, 1977
4"A Star Is Born"November 19, 1977
5"Minerva Goes Straight"November 26, 1977
6"Mr. Nice Guy"December 10, 1977
7"The Arrival of Nancy"December 17, 1977
8"Tabitha's Triangle"December 24, 1977
9"That New Black Magic"December 31, 1977
10"What's Wrong with Mister Right?"December 31, 1977
11"Paul Goes to New York"January 7, 1978
12"Tabitha's Party"January 14, 1978

Discontinuities with Bewitched[edit]

The series takes place in the "present day" (late 1970s) yet does not reconcile how Tabitha and Adam could be in their early-to-mid 20s when they had been young children at the time Bewitched ended only five years earlier, nor why Adam is now the older sibling, nor why Adam was now mortal rather than a warlock. As a pre-teen, Erin Murphy, who had played Tabitha on Bewitched, was far too young to play an adult Tabitha. In the final episode of Tabitha, Samantha and Darrin's 25th wedding anniversary is being celebrated, even though their marriage in the 1964 premiere episode of Bewitched had been only 14 years earlier.

Elizabeth Montgomery, who starred as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched, was asked to reprise her role on Tabitha which she declined. She later said of the series:

"First of all, I didn't see the show, but I heard that she [Lisa Hartman] didn't twitch as well as I did. I kept getting mail from people were who outraged, saying, 'Where is Erin Murphy? What in the world (is going on)?! This woman is 25...this doesn't make any sense.' I was getting mail from people like it was my fault, although also saying, 'Thank God you didn't have anything to do with this.'[...] They felt betrayed. I thought, 'How can you be betrayed by a TV show?' But they were irate. I got almost as much mail about that as I get about anything else. It was very funny...ranged from kids who hated it to grownups who said, 'This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen.'[...]"[6]

Reception and cancellation[edit]

After the series premiered on September 10, 1977, the second episode aired over two months later on November 12, 1977. The series then continued to air regularly on Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST. Ratings for Tabitha were initially good but began to drop off mid-way through the first season. In January 1978, ABC moved Tabitha from its Saturday night spot to Fridays at 8 p.m. (typically known as the Friday night death slot) where ratings continued to fall. ABC canceled the series shortly thereafter. Tabitha continued to air in reruns through August 1978.[1]

Production notes[edit]

Tabitha was produced by Ashmont Productions (the company owned by Elizabeth Montgomery and William Asher), and filmed at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, California. It was filmed with a single camera with an added laugh track.[1]

The series' theme song, "It Could Be Magic", was written by Jeff Barry and performed by Lisa Hartman.[1]

DVD release[edit]

In 2005, to coincide with the release of the first season of Bewitched on DVD (and the release of the Bewitched feature film), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the entire run of Tabitha on DVD. The original Liberty Williams pilot is included as a special feature.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Leszczak 2012, p. 178.
  2. ^ Leszczak, Bob (2012). Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide. McFarland. p. 213. ISBN 0-786-49305-4. 
  3. ^ Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2 ed.). McFarland. p. 1048. ISBN 0-786-46477-1. 
  4. ^ a b Pilato, Herbie J. (2012). Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 253. ISBN 1-589-79749-3. 
  5. ^ Hanauer, Joan (May 5, 1977). "NBC Looks At America's Most Unreported Crime - Incest". Times-Union. p. 6. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ Pilato 2012, pp. 254-255.
  7. ^ Werts, Diane (June 21, 2005). "TV on DVD". Newsday. p. B21. 

External links[edit]