Technobabble in Bewitched

The witches and warlocks of the 60’s tv show usually didn’t bother explaining their magic powers to mortals. It was just something they could do. However on one occasion, I remember Samantha did drop a bit of technobabble when explaining things to a mortal. I can’t remember the exact words she used, though. Nor can I remember which episode it appeared in either.

Here’s what I do remember: Samantha had just teleported herself and a mortal, not one of the series regulars, someplace. The mortal asked something about how they’d come so far so fast, and Samantha dropped some technobabblish psuedoscientific terms for what she’d done instead of just saying it was magic.

It stood out to me as something very different than the usual dialog about their magic powers. It sounded like there were actual witch scientists in their community who had rigorously tested theories about their powers. I was a bit disappointed that I never saw that aspect come up again.

Can anybody supply the exact quote, which episode it was in, and hopefully best of all, a link to a clip of the scene?

Did this kind of thing happen more often than I remember during the series? I have no idea what proportion of the total episodes I’ve seen in reruns as I grew up.

I don’t recall that scene, but IIRC, Dr Bombay would often use the witch version of medical speak when diagnosing someone.

You’re free to disagree of course, but to me none of Dr Bombay’s medical diagnoses ever sounded like there was any real science behind them. He said more or less “You have <some disease with some silly name> and here’s the cure,” and done. He always seemed more like a witch doctor than a real doctor. Which might have been the series writers’ intent. :laughing:

My gold standard for whether something sounded science-like were the Star Trek TOS reruns I was consuming during that same period of my childhood. :slight_smile:

You might have it right, but possibly she was avoiding admitting that it was magic altogether with the techobabble? Something she made up to pull one over on an unsuspecting mortal? I don’t recall the incident you describe but that’s probably because I haven’t seen more than 1 or 2 episodes since it first aired.

That would be a lot more in keeping with the way the series was written. Supposed to be funny, Elizabeth Montgomery coming forth with a dazzling string of techno-bullshit to put the mortal off the path, with a wink at the audience. When the truth is, “it’s witch magic”.

Here’s a Bombay quote that is technobabblish:

“I shall feed this information into my ultra-vascular self-denominating powered trichroscope, with, of course, the super-duper diagnostic predictor attachment.”

Wasn’t there some handwaving about “the ethereal plain”, or some such?

Atmospheric continuum.

Some Bombay technobabble

About all I remember about the “rules of magic” in Bewitched were:

  • Some witches/warlocks were distinctly more powerful than others, with the most powerful forming a sort of aristocracy. Samantha’s parents Maurice and Endora were members of this upper crust.
  • A witch/warlock could not just undo another’s spell, the original spell caster had to undo it (with rare and difficult exceptions).
  • A witch/warlock transported back in time to before the date of their birth would suffer amnesia and depowering.
  • Incantations were often necessary to achieve a specific result.

According to Samantha, once a witch casts a spell on someone, she has “squatter’s rights” to him/her, so no one else can undo it.

When Benjamin Franklin was brought to the present, he saved her the trouble of having to explain by guessing that 20th century technology was so advanced it allowed time travel.

Bingo! Googling that phrase lead me to a closed captioning file:

The idea that she was making up technobabble for the mortal’s benefit is interesting, but I distinctly recall the way she casually tossed off the line and also the quick “never mind” to the mortal. This still makes me think she was using the exact technical terms her magical community came up with.

And further googling came up with “zonk across the atmospheric continuum” used in another episode that I’m pretty sure I never saw. So, that’s exactly what I was looking for, thanks.

And now, on to finding the right clip. I think I can lay hands on the DVDs or via some streaming service if I have to, although a youtube clip would be more convenient to show everybody and see if their current impressions match mine when I was only 10 years old or so. :slight_smile:

I always got the impression that when they “teleport” they were doing just that, disappearing in one place and reappearing in another. But there is at least a couple of episodes that indicate they were actually flying from point A to point B.

I just got around to watching that clip, and that was indeed some fine technobabble worthy of appearing in a Star Trek episode. :slight_smile: This clip confirms “atmospheric continuum” as Bewitched canon about the way their powers work. Thanks again for that.

Don’t forget Aunt Clara. She was described as a powerful witch that had declined with age. I always thought it was early dementia.

Bewitched had an unusually experienced cast for a tv show. Maurice Evans, Marion Lorne, and Agnes Moorehead were very respected stage and film actors.

I’d go so far to say that Maurice Evans was a legend on the stage (on “I Love Lucy,” when Lucy was flattering Orson Welles, she compared him to Evans, which he recognized as high praise)