Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Might've Been: Tabitha (1976)

I posted this over on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives, a week ago, and I said I'd post it here as well.

Most of you are familiar with Tabitha, which was a short-lived and belated spinoff from Bewitched, launching 5 years after the parent series had ended. The series aired on Saturday nights on ABC, with Lisa Hartman, who later hit her big break with Knots Landing before marrying country singer Clint Black, and Robert Urich (ex-S.W.A.T.). However, that was the result of a second pilot that producer William Asher and executive producer Harry Ackerman created for ABC. The first one, which aired a year and a half earlier, didn't really sell (though they say it did sell the show, and the network made changes), and perhaps with good reason.

As RAM '67 reminded me in responding last week, the character's name was originally spelled with three 'A''s, instead of 2, which explains why the original pilot was titled, Tabatha, instead of Tabitha. Secondly, perhaps forgetting at the time that Tabitha was a blonde as a toddler, and played by twins Erin & Diane Murphy on Bewitched, the casting directors went with a brunette for the lead, in this case Louise "Liberty" Williams, who formerly had been with the comedy troupe, the Groundlings, before turning to acting. If her voice sounds familiar, well, it should, if you're a cartoon fan. After failing with Tabatha, and a subsequent sitcom that did make it to air, albeit also short lived (Busting Loose), Liberty was hired by Hanna-Barbera, and spent 7+ seasons as the voice behind Jayna, the sexier, female half of the Wonder Twins from Super Friends, during which time she landed two more short-term sitcom gigs.

Now, let's take a look at Tabatha:

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

Thanks to your earlier posting I finally got to see this.

It's not all bad but just like the revised pilot/series, I was annoyed that Erin Murphy wasn't used for a spinoff. She was in her teens by this point so we could have had her go off to witchy boarding school or something. Instead of hiding her magic from the world, (trying to be normal)we could have had the opposite premise - a group of witches practicing openly! In fact, why would Tabs want to be "normal"? She seemed to like using her powers on the old show.

I think the biggest crime of all was depowering little brother, Adam. The original series indicated he had powers, though apparently not as strong as his big sis.

hobbyfan said...

He has his powers in this pilot, but when they reshot it, Adam was stripped of those powers so that he would be more like his dad.

The timing factor is a problem, as the series had ended not that long before, and so the producers for some idiotic reason accelerated Adam & Tabitha's growth.

Anyway, had they brought back Erin Murphy, they'd have invited comparisons to Sabrina, who was then in the comics only, or risking a lawsuit from Archie or something.