By The Sound Man, Bill Lane
In the opener of # 196 ("A Chance on Love"), Samantha asks Serena to take her place selling raffle tickets at the Huntington Hotel. Serena obliges and transforms herself into Samantha. Being somewhat taken aback by the minimal covering provided by the dress she had zapped herself into, Sam asks Serena to lengthen the hemline and Serena complies with that as well. Then we cut to the opening credits.
What I have always enjoyed listening to at the close of the teaser of this episode is that the sound effect that accompanies the arm wave, in this one isolated incident, is actually sustained past the point of the Serena theme music closing just prior to the credits. It accompanies Serena's snap of her fingers to lengthen the dress and, if you turn your volume up, you can clearly hear the harp stop about a second after the music does after the screen has faded to black.
HISTORY: This harp sound effect* is first used in the 4th season and lasts through to the final episode of the 8th season and is by far the most widely used arm-gesture assist marker from the 5th season onwards. Which I have always been quite comfortable with as it has a smooth soothing flow to it which gracefully compliments the movement of an arm wave. It is briefly experimented with in the 4th season and enjoys the status of both a pop-in and pop-out cue early in that season as well as arm-wave-assist before achieving its ultimate standard role of arm-wave-assist throughout the rest of the series. The first time it is used is as Samantha's pop-in at the office towards the close of # 110 ("Business, Italian Style"). It is also used in its condensed form as Endora's pop-out cue immediately following the "scurry score" prior to her having lifted the cheapskate spell from Darrin in # 112 ("Cheap,Cheap").
Practically every time this sound effect is used, its texture resembles the gentle strum of harp strings (with a possible synthesizer assist) and length tends to vary according to season. The flow is sustained to a maximum of approximately 5½ seconds in seasons 5 and 6, with very few exceptions. In seasons 4, 7, and 8; however, it is sustained about half that time, though maximum length is also used in these "outside seasons" on a few scattered occasions. One of the clearest recordings of it played at full length is in the opener of # 195 ("Okay, Who's the Wise Witch?"), when Samantha makes her first attempt at sending Darrin off to the office from the kitchen. Here we hear it in its entirety, from the initial strumming to its abrupt end. (This would be the perfect audio touch for my Bewitched desktop if Sam didn't say "Wait a minute, let me try again" in the middle of it).
The shortest edited version I can recall is in # 145 ("It's So Nice to Have a Spouse Around the House"), when Serena (disguised as Samantha) is lying on the couch and zaps away the vacuum cleaner and duster. The initial strum of the harp barely registers with the listener before it is cut off by the "ping" sound-effect accompanying the disappearance of the cleaning items. The background Serena score also renders it somewhat indistinctive.
Three in a row grace the audio between Sam's pop-out cue from Juke's room and her pop-in back at home to accompany Endora's leafing through a Harpies Bizarre magazine in # 144 ("Darrin Gone and Forgotten"). This is, however, outdone a few episodes later when Arthur makes his first attempt to dematerialize Napoleon in # 147 ("Samantha's French Pastry"), and we get to hear it no less than 8 times in rapid succession.
VARIANTS: On one occasion the standard harp can be heard 1½ times when Serena conjures up a hen on the living room couch in # 156 ("Serena Strikes Again - Part 2"). Here we hear a double lead-in, i.e. the standard harp sound is tagged by a slightly subdued segment of the same (possibly in reverse) to compliment Serena's wrist movement. And just for fun, pay special note to its use in Arthur's second set of arm gestures towards the end of # 147 ("Samantha's French Pastry"), where we hear it in once again in an 8 zap run - in reverse!
As I mentioned earlier, this sound effect is characterized by the gentle strumming effect of a harp. In the early 4th season, however, these strings on a few rare occasions sound more like they are being plucked or even struck as in # 118 ("Allergic to Macedonian Dodo Birds"), when Clara transforms Endora back from a duck. It is used in this variant, as well, towards the end of the same episode when Samantha pops out of the living room to rescue Clara from the roof. Serena uses it once as well in the final segment of # 117 ("That Was No Chick, That Was My Wife"), when she conjures up a mirror in the kitchen before joining Sam and Louise in the living room. The sound-track here is a little muffled and one must be attentive to hear its struck quality beneath the accompanying music track.
A major mutation of this sound effect takes place in the 6th season and is also featured twice in the 8th. During the opener of # 190 ("Super Arthur"), there is, or at least would appear to be, a grossly distorted variation of this same harp sound accompanying Arthur's arm gestures with his mirror antics. Maurice's attempt to transform Darrin into a leaping lizard in # 237 ("A Plague on Maurice and Samantha") , and Endora's reeling Darrin and his car back up the driveway immediately following the opening credits in # 241 ("Three Men and a Witch on a Horse") , also feature this rather bizarre variant.
*Please note that I am deliberately excluding the harp's "other" or "sister sound effect" which also came into being in the 4th season's # 110 ("Business, Italian Style"), but which is retired after the 5th season opener, # 141 ("Samantha's Wedding Present"). The strumming texture of this one, its upward span of a few notes and its stable (as opposed to wavy) character appears to be entirely different which compels me to classify it as another, yet parallel sound effect, though the same instrument may very well have been used for both. Used for the first time in # 110 ("Business, Italian Style"), when Endora and Samantha invisibly materialize in Larry's office, it enjoys modest usage throughout the 4th season. It accompanies Sam's arm/hand gestures in # 135 ("I Confess"), when she materializes a bucket of water over Dick Wilsons' head, and here we get to hear it back to back with the standard harp sound elaborated on above, and in this succession: the "standard" harp sound first, the "other" one second. This one and only double-up occurrence is great for comparison purposes! This was a short-lived sound effect, making just one appearance outside the 4th season, namely in # 141 ("Samantha's Wedding Present"), when Samantha, once again opposite Dick Wilson, grants him three wishes and zaps specs onto him. But the "standard" harp is used to accompany her manifestation of his final two wishes, the final one of which is accompanied with the harp sustained to full duration.