TheArchive's Archivist: Harry Eskin Discovers Ted Danson/Kim Cattrall Pilot

One of the most exciting experiences for a motion picture archivist is to discover a movie or TV show that audiences haven’t seen in a long time, or have never seen at all, and to make that discovery newly available to viewers. At TheArchive, one title that gave us archivists that exhilarating opportunity for discovery is the early 1980s TV show Tucker’s Witch. And what better time than Halloween to roll it out....

Tucker’s Witch aired for only one season, from 1982 to 1983. The show is about a married couple, Amanda and Rick Tucker, played by Catherine Hicks and Tim Matheson, who run a detective agency, with the notable twist that Amanda is a witch who uses her psychic powers to help solve the crimes.

The first episode of the show features a young Ted Danson as the villain, a serial killer. That episode aired only six days after audiences saw Danson in a very different role, on the premiere episode of Cheers, the show that made him a household name.

There is an interesting production history to Tucker’s Witch. The original pilot of the show was called The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon, and it featured two completely different actors in the lead roles: Kim Cattrall and Art Hindle.

However, after the pilot had been picked up by CBS, the Canadian sex comedy film Porky’s came out, notoriously featuring Cattrall in some raunchy scenes. CBS decided they didn’t want to feature an actress associated with that sort of material, so they replaced her with Catherine Hicks. Art Hindle, interestingly, had appeared in Porky’s as well. It’s not clear whether CBS had the same problem with him as they did with Cattrall, but in any case, he was replaced too. The main characters’ scenes in the pilot were reshot with Hicks and Matheson, and the name of the show was changed to Tucker’s Witch.

When the film elements for Tucker’s Witch came to TheArchive, I worked with my fellow archivists to take stock of exactly what materials we had. We were extremely fortunate to have received the original 35mm film negatives for all of the show’s 12 episodes. Additionally, we received vintage 35mm prints of each episode. While cataloguing the prints, we noticed that a couple of them had the show’s original title, The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon, printed on the label instead of the Tucker’s Witch title. Having read an overview of the show’s production history, we wondered whether those prints might be copies of the original pilot. We put the reels on our inspection bench to take a look at them, and sure enough, there were Kim Cattrall and Art Hindle on film.

When our bosses asked us to scan our Tucker’s Witch film elements in order to make new 4K masters for the full series, we made sure to let them know about our discovery. They were excited to hear what we had found, and they requested that we scan the unaired pilot in addition to all the episodes. We scanned all the originally aired episodes at 4K resolution from their original 35mm negatives. Since there was no original negative available for the unaired pilot, we scanned a 35mm print at 4K resolution.

Series also featured Alfre Woodard and Barbara Barrie.

As a result of all our efforts, not only are all the originally aired episodes of Tucker’s Witch now accessible to viewers via streaming after a long period of unavailability, but the original pilot — which, as far as we’re aware, was never shown to the public prior to our acquiring the show — can now be seen by audiences for the first time ever. Finding and restoring something mysterious and unseen is a fine accomplishment for archive and restoration workers to have, but people actually being able to watch and enjoy this previously unseen material after almost four decades is ultimately what gives our work meaning. And that is truly magical.


TheArchive channel is dedicated to aficionados and lovers of story, craft, and silver screen fun – streaming rare, retro, and restored films and classic TV. From indies and series, to Oscar winning documentaries, unearthed MOWs, and a killer horror library, TheArchive delivers forgotten, never-before-seen gems for free and many in 4KMarilynKarloff, and Orson Welles stream alongside ReeseKeanu, and Samuel L. Jackson. Find true stories of QueenHendrix, and Sinatra, an LGBTQ library, MLK bios, and world history docs. TheArchive has the movies and shows you either saw, should’ve seen, or should be watching now!