“Sabrina, we have something to tell you. You see there are two realms, the natural and the supernatural and it turns out the immutable laws of physics…You’re a witch”
1996 saw a revival of big action, big budget movies taking the top spots at the box office (Independence Day, Twister, Mission: Impossible and The Rock), the Spice Girls making their mark on the UK pop charts as another, Take That, decided to call it a day.
In the September of that year, ABC began to air a supernatural sitcom which would go on for seven seasons, span a series of merchandise and introduce the TV world’s best talking cat ever.
What’s it About?
Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) finds out on her sixteenth birthday that she is a witch and has been sent to live with her aunts not because her parents are away working but to learn the art and responsibility of magic. Navigating her way through high school and college with powers proves not to be an easy feat but with her aunts behind her and major love interest Harvey to keep her busy, nothing too disastrous can happen, right?
Why Did I/Why Should I Watch It?
After the success of Saved by the Bell in the late eighties and early nineties, there seems to be a very quick succession of teen based sitcoms filling the airwaves, some were more successful (Boy Meets World, California Dreams) than others (USA High, Saved by the Bell: The Collage Years) but they were mostly all in a similar vein: a group of friends getting into trouble, fixing it while getting sage advice from the adults involved.
Sabrina, although very much in line with the winning formula set out by the above mentioned shows, had the supernatural twist of the lead being a witch and not only trying to get though being a teenager but also handling her powers while in many ways reining in her aunts who, unlike other shows in the genre, end up causing more chaos then they solve.
It was filled with great strong female characters who were not written into the usual, ‘girl next door’, ‘love interest’, ‘friend’ but as educated, funny and independent women, something which felt lacking back in the genre then and in some ways even now.
As great as that was, the real reason I tuned in every week was because it truly was just very funny. There were huge slapstick elements which caused genuine laugh out loud moments along with funny, culturally relevant scripts which although have dated slighted now, are delivered to perfection.
And then there was Salem. If I were to ever create a list of my favourite TV characters ever he would have to be up there. Sarcastic, funny with a constant somewhat evil plan to take over the world he was and still is the best thing about the show, and some of his antics make me giggle to this day just thinking about them.
To Tell a Mortal
Welcome Back Duke
What A Witch Wants/Soul Mates
What Else do I Need to Know?
Sabrina the Teenage Witch is based on the Archie Comic Book Series, first published in 1962. The first screen version came in a made of television movie starring a young Ryan Reynolds.
An animated spin off of the show, Sabrina: The Animated Series aired from 1999-2000 and the main character of Sabrina was voiced by Melissa Joan Hart’s sister Emily Hart.
The show started actors who had made names for themselves in other teen franchises most notably Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains it All), David Lascher (Blossom), Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) and Elisa Donovan (Clueless).
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