Catweazle 2.1 – The Magic Riddle

There was a rather huge change when Catweazle returned for a second series: the entire supporting cast was new. In part because there’s only so much you can do on a farm and in part to spotlight a little of that upper class toffery that international audiences were said to enjoy, when Catweazle returned to the 20th Century for thirteen more episodes filmed in the summer and autumn of 1970, it was around the grounds of the estate of Lord and Lady Collingford, played by Moray Watson and Elspet Gray.

The Collingsfords’ son, Cedric, is home from his school and becomes Catweazle’s new ally in learning magic. This time, he’s trying to find all the symbols of the Zodiac to fuel a spell to fly. And there seems to be another grownup who will be suspicious of what Cedric is up to, a combination groundskeeper and tour guide played by Peter Butterworth.

Interestingly, there’s a delightfully detailed booklet that comes with Network’s DVD issue of Catweazle that explains that LWT suggested the country house and aristocrats to appeal to American audiences because they hoped to sell the show here and British culture and accents were still very trendy back then. Catweazle would have fit in as a Saturday morning show just perfectly. The BBC had actually presold their kids’ series Here Come the Double Deckers to ABC before they finished filming it; that show debuted in September 1970 and its 17 episodes ran for two years, while The Bugaloos, an American production starring four British teen idols, took off on NBC the same day.

This is pure speculation, but Catweazle might have been under consideration by ABC as well for the fall of 1971, but in the end the program was never shown here. If ABC was thinking about buying it, that would mean that they eventually passed it up in favor of Sid and Marty Krofft’s Lidsville, which is by far my least favorite of all the Kroffts’ programs. There must have been some deeply bad magic behind a result that tragic.

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