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Tabitha

By Donald Liebenson

It seems that this short-lived 1977 spinoff was not so much trying to recapture the magic of Bewitched as it was The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Like Mary, Lisa Hartman's Tabitha was an independent single woman working for a low-rent local television station. Where Mary had a letter "M" hanging on her wall, Tabitha had a "T." Tabitha, however, tried to turn our world on, not with a smile, but with a twitch of her nose. And without the benefit of brilliant writers or an able ensemble, Hartman was just not up to taking a nothing premise and suddenly making it all seem worthwhile.

Tabitha, now a witchy woman, works as an assistant at KXLA with her mortified mortal brother, Adam, to whom she promises to "cut down on the nose action" (in the more-interesting unaired pilot included on this two-disc set, Adam is a warlock trying to lure his sister to the dark side). Tabitha is an exercise in diminished returns. Mel Stuart, as the beleaguered station manager, is no Ed Asner; a pre-Spenser Robert Urich, as the obnoxious, egomaniacal talk show host, is no Ted Knight; and Karen Morrow, as Tabitha's meddlesome, troublemaking aunt Minerva, is no Agnes Moorehead.

Not that Tabitha is without its TV Land charms. Reprising their roles from the original series are Sandra Gould and a bearded George Tobias as Gladys and Abner Kravitz in "The Arrival of Nancy," and Bernard Fox as Dr. Bombay in "Tabitha's Party." These episodes also feature welcome appearances by, respectively, Fred Willard as a gold-chain-wearing swinger and Werner "Col. Klink" Klemperer. For undiscriminating couch potatoes, Tabitha, may cast an irresistible guilty pleasure spell. However, fans of the original series will probably feel less bewitched than bothered and bewildered.

The entire series is now available on DVD!

 

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Your Memories Shared!

Lisa Hartman takes on the role of Samantha & Darrin Stevens' daughter Tabitha, playing her as a now grown, working woman of the Super70s. Tabitha Stevens was a TV production assistant at KLXA in California. Her work centered around the Paul Thurston Show. Thurston was played by Robert Urich (Soap & Vega$).

While a good idea for a sitcom, the fact that Tabitha should actually only be 12 or 13 in 1977 makes it a bit silly, but then again, that's TV! The plotlines are somewhat similar to Bewitched but hardly as engaging, mostly due to the over-use of the laugh track & special effects and the under-use of the actors' talents. Still, it's somewhat amusing and can be seen now and then on TV Land late night.

--Happi-Puppi

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: November 12, 1977 - August 25, 1978

Cast: Lisa Hartman, Robert Urich, Mel Stewart, David Ankrum, Karen Morrow

Network: ABC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Spinoff of: Bewitched

Image courtesy of ABC


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