It was downright zany!
The 1960's sitcom Bewitched, as you may well know, offered the typical lighthearted treatment of the typical travails of a typical middle class tv suburban couple with one huge, absurd exception: the wife was a full-service witch.
While the supernatural aspects of witchcraft are usually presented as absolutely terrifying (I just watched The Wizard of Oz once more, and everything about everything Margaret Hamilton does in that film still gives me nothing but the creeps), what transpired on Bewitched with Samantha Stevens and Co. was always fully frothy, fun and foolish.
Get your fill right here!
What makes Bewitched’s preternatural so comical?
For starters, the bewitchment is initiated in a silly way – with a little wiggle of the nose. An accompanying cute, zippy sound effect emphasizes playfulness and charm.
Also, the magic that transpires is funny. Out of nowhere things – massive things – pop up that are totally safe, funny-looking and innocuous-acting. And it all leads to ridiculous misadventures that, at the end of the day, resolve in a happy, loopy ending.
Like the time when, according to the Wikipedia episode synopsis page “Samantha’s Uncle Arthur conjures up the real Napolean (Henry Gibson) instead of the pastry and is unable to send him home. Larry Tate, Darren’s boss at the ad firm, meets the Emperor and wants him to be a spokesperson for laundry detergent.” Har har har!
The Comic Lens is happy to suggest that such is the spirit of much of the goings-on of the gospel lectionary text for this weekend: John 21:1- 19.
It’s downright zany!
After all, we’re told that one day soon after Jesus’ resurrection and doubt-abating appearance to his disciples, Peter and several of said disciples decide to go fishing and have no success whatsoever. All night they cast nets to no avail. Jesus shows up on the shore early the next day and tells them to move their nets to the other side of the boat.
This means shifting their operation about 7.5 feet, the length of an ancient fishing boat.
And what happens next? We’re told the disciples suddenly catch so many fish they can’t haul in the net.
WHAAT? This is ridiculous! Ridiculously supernatural. Are we sure Jesus didn’t wiggle his nose to make that happen? Was there some twinkly music accompanying this wacky change of fortune?
And furthermore we’re told the disciples continue to have difficulty dragging their enormous stash onto shore once they dock. You can bet their groans and contorted faces are comically “over-the-top” because they’re all in service of loony, happy abundance.
And it gets even wacky-er: we’re told the nets, despite their most-weighty load, don’t tear one bit. Like when Samantha manages to continue successfully hiding the pink polka-dotted elephant little Tabitha conjured it up from a bank examiner who comes to prove it’s existence to the bank president and Larry Tate in order to deny the Stevens their application for a home improvement loan. Bwha Bwah Bwah!!
The delightful tone of the gospel scene continues as Jesus is said to be cookin’ up some breakfast for his friends – fish and bread that he happily then serves.
It’s nothing Samantha Stevens wouldn’t do!
However, like Darren Stevens and the other humans of the “Bewitched” world, the disciples remain befuddled at what is going on – we’re told they’re still not quite sure this is really Jesus and what in the world was the miracle about and why in the world is the Ruler of the World suddenly sporting the Ancient Near Eastern counterpart of an apron and spatula?
As I’ve mentioned many times, one of the earmarks of comedy is the presence of “low status” characters – and here we have plenty.
But it all leads to a happy ending! Sort of. The disciples are well-fed and a wonderful sense pervades that this kind of crazy abundance is now always going to be possible throughout the universe because that’s the nature of“resurrection power.” Brought on by Christ’s direction that involves perhaps (usually?) some sort of adjustment that is ridiculously small. Believe it or not!
There will be no wiggling nose, though, I don’t think…..
Although there should always be plenty of twinkling music!
And, as the text continues to inform, it will involve a cross…..