Amanda & Rick Tucker

Created by William Bast and Paul Huson

Imagine Bewitched if Samantha and Darren (either one of them) were private eyes.

No, really.

Tucker’s Witch was a private eye comedy/drama from the eighties that ran on CBS, starring Catherine Hicks and Tim Matheson as AMANDA & RICK TUCKER, a married couple who ran a Laurel Canyon detective agency. The hook was that Amanda was a witch, although her powers weren’t always all they could be.

And the hilarity allegedly ensued.

At least allegedly. The show was canned after only a dozen episodes. Despite a cute cat named Dickens. Amanda was no Samantha, and Rick was no Darren.

There was simply no chemistry between the two leads. Rick stood on the mark and played the handsome doofus husband and the plastic-faced Hicks played the dutiful but slightly rebellious wife who could have been pulled from any 1950s sit-com (although they were supposedly 1980s-style equal partners, it’s telling that the show was called Tucker’s Witch — the way this played. Why or how these two were private investigators was never explained, as far as I could tell, but neither ever displayed any particular aptitude for the job. They were horrible detectives.

A case would fall in their laps, they would poke around, oblivious to even the most obvious clues, until their muddling around would annoy the killer enough that he would come after them. Whereupon Rick, the one who carried a gun, would order Amanda off the case, telling her that it was “too dangerous.” Amanda, naturally, would disobey and end up trapped by the bad guy, only to be rescued by Rick and/or a little bit of witchcraft.

But through it all, Amanda’s makeup and hair never wavered, whether she was in a hot tub, just waking up, attending a cocktail party or fleeing a crazed killer (she did a lot of fleeing from crazed killers). She simply could never quite find the character. Although it might not have been entirely her fault.

Because the real problem with the show was the weak and often fuzzy writing. Neither Rick nor Amanda’s characters were ever clearly explained. Their entire lives seemed not to exist before the show, and thus there was no explanation for almost anything, be it their less than illustrious detective chops, Amanda’s poorly defined supernatural powers or why the fireplace in their SoCal bedroom was always blazing away — we were just supposed to accept whatever was thrown at us.

So the drama wasn’t very dramatic, the hilarity was mostly unintentional, the “mysteries” were strictly of the connect-the-dot variety, and continuity between episodes (or even within the same episode) was more a theory than a practice.

And no, I don’t know if the gorilla got away or not.

TRIVIA

  • “Long before Sex and the City, Kim Cattrall was the victim of one of the most childish episodes in TV history. In the spring of 1982, she was cast to star in a CBS fall series called The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon. That summer Porky’s featured Cattrall’s racy scene in the gym. Nowadays, a network would do contortions to get a star like that on the air. Back then, the CBS brass ordered the series reshot with a new female lead, which turned out to be Catherine Hicks. It also was retitled Tucker’s Witch. The show quickly cratered.”
    — Tom Jicha (September 21, 2003, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

TELEVISION

  • TUCKER’S WITCH Watch it now!
  • (1982-83, CBS)
    12 60-minute episodes
    Created by William Bast and Paul Huson
    Writers: William Bast, Paul Huson, Lee Sheldon
    Directors: Harry Winer, Corey Allen, Rod Daniel, Victor Lobi, Randa Haines
    Starring Catherine Hicks as AMANDA TUCKER
    and Tim Matheson as RICK TUCKER
    Also starring Bill Morey, Alfre Woodard, Barbara Barrie
    Guest stars: Ted Danson, Barry Corbin, Simon Oakland, Ted Danson, Joe Penny, Noble Willingham

    • “The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon” (October 6, 1982)
    • “Big Mouth” (October 13, 1982)
    • “The Corpse Who Knew Too Much” (October 20, 1982)
    • “Curse of the Toltec Death Mask” (October 27, 1982)
    • “Terminal Case” (November 3, 1982)
    • “Abra Cadaver” (November 10, 1982)
    • “Dye Job” (March 31, 1983)
    • “Psych-Out” (April 7, 1983)
    • “Rock Is a Hard Place” (April 14, 1983)
    • “Formula for Revenge” (April 28, 1983)
    • “Living and Presumed Dead” (May 5, 1983)
    • “Murder Is the Key” (July 9, 1983)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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