Thanks to Joanna Wilson for today's guest review. Joanna runs the HollyAndIvyTastic blog Christmas TV History and has authored several books about Christmas television programs and films. These books make great gifts at Christmas or any time of year.
The fourth season episode "Humbug Not to Be Spoken Here" on Bewitched is the second of a total of four Christmas episodes made during the series' run. This particular episode has some common story elements with the other Bewitched Christmas episodes, and I fear that its legacy has been overlooked. Maybe I can convince you to take another look at this under-appreciated magical Christmas installment--that includes a much imitated Dickensian spin.
|"Christmas is just another day to me," says a Scrooge-like Mr. Mortimer.|
|Working late on Christmas Eve, the insensitive Mr. Mortimer obligates his butler Hawkins to continue serving as well.|
|"There's a time for soup and there's also a time for sugar plums!" Darrin insists that Mortimer's instant soup business can wait.|
|Later that evening, Darrin tries on his Santa costume he'll use in the morning for his daughter Tabitha. Meanwhile, Sam speculates on what's wrong with Mortimer.|
|There's no Polar Express here--Mortimer is going to take a ride on a witch's broom to the North Pole!|
|With the elves feverishly working in the foreground, Mr. Mortimer is unimpressed when he meets Santa Claus (background).|
|Sam and Mortimer see Hawkins dancing around his Christmas tree.|
|Character actor Charles Lane plays Mr. Mortimer. Lane made himself a career out of playing curmudgeons|
|Darrin in his Santa suit, Sam and Mr. Mortimer--all happy on Christmas morning.|
What stands out to me in this holiday episode--despite the distracting Santa Claus and North Pole elements--is that this story is structured like an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Mortimer is focused on the importance of money, he has a lack of holiday spirit, he demands Darrin work on Christmas, and on Christmas Eve while in bed Mortimer is visited by a guide calling herself "The Spirit of Christmas." For many of us, Santa Claus represents our belief in Christmases past. Mortimer also visits a Christmas in the present--when he witnesses Hawkins' joy with his family. And, Mortimer feels transformed by his night time journey, deciding to give gifts to those he's wronged and righting the future for his ad campaign. The episode's story is a little muddy, but I believe Dickens' original elements are all clearly here.
|Is Sam behaving arrogantly by taking it upon herself to teach Mortimer a life lesson? Probably. But we love Samantha anyway.|
|Bo, Daisy, and Luke Duke each take a turn speaking across the top of the jug to create a spooky voice transmitted on the CB radio, hoping to scare Boss Hogg into transforming his life on Christmas.|
|Col. Steve Austin disguises himself as Santa Claus and shows his adversary visions of his Christmas past, present and future on The Six Million Dollar Man.|