Sunday, August 30

Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Season by Season

In 1996, a made for TV movie based on the comic book (related to Archie) inspired the TV show. Even though Melissa Joan Hart played the main character, the TV movie differed very much from the show. The number one difference was Hilda and Zelda were played by different actresses and had different personalities. Harvey was nerdy and Ryan Reynolds played the hot guy--but was a jerk.

Season One
The best season I believe, this why I love the show. It was colorful, fun, inventive, and different. One crazy Entertainment Weekly writer said Sabrina living with her aunts could be a metaphor for lesbians and coming out of the closet---the Other Realm portal in their closet, maybe? In fact, in season one Zelda says, "We are not an alternative couple." Highlight episodes would be where they make 'dream dates' out of 'man-dough' and two of them are Brian Austin Green and Eddie Cibrian! Good: The flan episode, the episode where they visit Mars and meet up with David Chokachi, Salem's cat show, Harvey turning into a frog at Sabrina's first kiss, Aunt Vesta (played by Raquel Welch), Sabrina meets her dad's new girlfriend, Sabrina and class in Salem's witch trial reenactment and Sabrina's life turns to a soap opera---best episode ever!!! Not so Hot: Jenny turning into a grasshopper, Christmas episode where a boy takes Salem, and babysitting ep. where the baby became an adult.

Season Two
Season 2 not only introduced Varlie, Sabrina's new best friend --- dumping her old friend Jenny (with no explanation) and Vice-Principal Willard Kraft, Season 2 also had an arc! The arc was Sabrina getting her witch's license and had the Quiz Master, who was exclusively for this season. But not everything was seriousness, there were some episodes that stood alone and did not feature the Quiz Master. Cool episodes included Sabrina becoming a boy (with Walter Jones--the original Black Power Ranger), Sabrina telling Harvey and Varlie her secret on Friday the 13th, Sabrina and Libby switching personalities, and a rock band with soda pop of talent. The finale featured her choosing between Harvey and Dashiell (Donald Faison from "Scrubs") and asking for her mom's help. Not so Hot: Candy corn river, Sabrina becomes a doll, hillbilly cousins, Sabrina's aunts having identical houses and the lame Disneyworld episode.

Season Three
The plot of this season was Sabrina trying to figure out the Spellman family secret, so she got visited by various paternal family members. One episode I loved related to this where she tried to get her teacher Ms. Quick to guess the answer for her. Sabrina's aunts also dated Mr. Kraft. Good episodes included: Sabrina gets the embarrassment out of Varlie, Pancake Madness!, when hungry for praise she makes people praise her, unattractive cousin episode, Zelda finds out Mr. Kraft was once married to a witch, Sabrina's thief pen pal, and the finale (Hawaii).
Not So Hot: Varlie's mom makes Varlie into a Sabrina clone, Sabrina's life becomes a reality show, Molly Dolly, and silent movie episode.
Note: The episode "Sabrina, the Matchmaker" was a backdoor pilot for a sitcom featuring Melissa Joan Hart's little sisters as her cousins living with mortals because their mom fell in love with a mortal.

Season Four
This new season kicked out Varlie and Libby (with explanation) and introduced Josh, the coffee house, Harvey's friend Brad, and the bumbling witch Dreama. This was the second year of Senior year, which is common in TV (Sabrina started sophomore year in season 1). A new opening sequence was made. Brad took the place of Libby as Sabrina's antagonist (he was also a witch hunter decedent), neat idea but he was way too annoying. Dream, an apprentice witch that Sabrina was to train was a neat idea but it didn't have a good execution. The actress who played Dreama was boring and way too spaced-out. I think Sabrina being a mentor would had been better for a later season (6 maybe?). Zelda and Hilda even owned a clock shop in this season, which was interesting but quickly abandoned. Dreama was also abandoned by the next season. The finale found Harvey and Josh pitting each other in a duel to be Sabrina's love. But, a big surprise Duex es Machina was a never-before-mentioned 'wish quota' with Harvey, he would no longer get amnesia and knew Sabrina was a witch.

Season Five
Sabrina moved to the WB and to college, got a new opening and new set--her dorm room. New characters included Roxie, Morgan and Miles. Mr. Kraft was never seen again and was not explained where he went. Harvey dumped Sabrina and the first episode felt rushed to explain it, it was irritating. This season just felt weird, Sabrina's new friends were not engaging (Way too 2-dimensional!) and the magic was awkward. It suffered from TV-college-itis, where family members needed excuses to appear in her life. What was an interesting concept was Zelda as a teacher at the college and Miles having a crush on her, also Zelda dating Sabrina's teacher. Hilda also bought the coffee house, which made sense. Hilda was a comedian in real life and was to perform stand-up in the show, but didn't really work out. I also liked the episode where Sabrina dated a warlock who didn't like mortals.
Note: The episode "Witchright Hall" was a backdoor pilot for Sabrina's cousin Amanda to join a witch school. A backdoor pilot is "a pilot episode filmed as a standalone episode so it can be broadcast if not picked up as a series."

Season Six
Melissa Joan Hart dyes her hair brown and the show felt more 'down to reality'--which was not a good thing, was so boring. Sabrina starts a relationship with Josh. One bright spot was that Harvey returns! But dating Morgan... A cool episode was when Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie) guest starred and tortured Harvey, thinking Sabrina and he were still together and wanted to make sure a mortal could keep her secret.

Season Seven
Josh, Miles and Zelda were phased out. Miles was given no reason why he disappeared. Sabrina's aunts moved back to the Other Realm but Hilda did appear from time to time. Sabrina's friends Morgan and Roxie moved in to her house but it was really strange that whenever Salem talked, they were not in the room or not noticing. Magic was used sparingly. Sabrina also joined a newspaper and all the characters were annoying and boring. Not a great season. Sabrina evens started a relationship with a hot but bland guy and was even to marry him by the last episode... but she ended up with Harvey, which was great.

Sabrina Goes to Rome (1998)
It aired during the summer and it was not in canon in the show. It could be argued that it was canon with the original TV movie. This movie introduced the character Gwen (Tara Strong), who has her own talking rat and appear in the next movie. The only characters from the show to appear in this movie were Sabrina and Salem.

Sabrina Down Under (1999)
This movie had Gwen once again and was the sequel to the last one. When it aired. I liked that we got to see Gwen again. Lidnsey Sloane (Valerie) guest-starred in the movie as a mermaid, and not as Valerie. It was not even referenced that she looked like Valerie. The only characters from the show to appear in this movie were Sabrina and Salem. So that is why I think these movies had their own continuity.