Friday, March 31, 2006

More "Aardvark"

After doing that long analysis of the "Bewitched" episode "A is for Aardvark,", I found a page that goes into detail about a prototype version of this episode. It seems that one of the initial batch of scripts was a different story, with a different setting; but the same basic idea as "Aardvark," developed in a similar way, and with the same ending. The script was put aside (bits of it eventually found their way into a second season episode) but a new script was immediately written around the same idea. It seems that that idea -- what if Darrin stopped forbidding Samantha to use magic and encouraged it instead -- was one of the ones Danny Arnold most wanted to do, but it took a ton of revision to get it right. It's an interesting look at how an episode evolves and morphs through multiple drafts.

The prototype script has a central dialogue exchange with a much nastier tone than the episode they finally wound up with; in this exchange, magic is very explicitly a metaphor for money (with Darrin explicitly portrayed as a man ready to sponge off his rich wife) and Samantha comes off quite unsympathetically. This was dropped in the episode proper, and the metaphor was changed to something less on-the-nose, but it's still interesting to read as a reminder of how much more grown-up Arnold's "Bewitched" was than the other fantasy sitcoms:

SAMANTHA: Darrin, I say this more in anger than in sorrow - but you married me for my magic!
DARRIN: [slowed down some] Samantha, I found out you were a witch after we were married, so don't be ridiculous!
SAMANTHA: You want to live on my magic..... and I'm being ridiculous!
DARRIN: [accusingly] Who's being selfish now?
SAMANTHA: [incredulous] Good grief! I think you're serious!
DARRIN: If you'd stop being emotional for a minute and look at this logically, you'd see....
SAMANTHA: Explain it to me! I dare you!
DARRIN: Take this house for instance. It's not my house, it's not your's our house. When we used to have a bank account - it wasn't mine, it wasn't yours, - it was ours.
SAMANTHA: Of course! It isn't my magic, it isn't your magic, it's our magic!
DARRIN: Now you've got it!
SAMANTHA: Oh, good! Do a trick for me, Darrin - disappear!
DARRIN: What's that supposed to mean?
SAMANTHA: Go ahead - do it with "our" magic. Or just do it - period.
DARRIN: You've missed the point completely. The whole basis of marriage is two people sharing everything - for the rest of their lives,
SAMANTHA: Agreed. But now that you've "retired", we won't have anything to share - but my magic. What are you putting into the pot?

It's a good thing that this rather nasty scene was dropped and a warmer-hearted episode constructed around the same idea, but this sort of thing -- a typical everyday situation, but with fantasy and magic code words substituted for the real-life stuff -- is something familiar to us now from every episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but the first-season "Bewitched" did it first.

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