Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: Season 6
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Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: Season 6

In general people seem to associate reading comic books with boys. When I was growing up this appeared true. Still, sling side the racks holding Spider-man and Superman were the comics typically relegated to kid sisters. The most popular of these were the ‘Archie’ franchise. Besides the flagship characters such as Archie, Betty and Veronica there was a cute little blonde with magical appeal, ‘Sabrina, the teenage Witch’. In many ways Sabrina Spellman embodied the ultimate fantasy for her demographic; pretty, smart, popular and able to cast magical spells with a wave of her finger. While DC and Marvel comics have had live action variations of their characters but mostly Archie comics typically remained Saturday morning cartoons. Then in 1996 ABC grounded their Friday evening line up with a live action series based on this character. It would go on to a couple of made for TV movies and a series lasting for seven seasons. CBS Paramount has been releasing the show on DVD and are now up to the penultimate sixth season is under consideration here and like the ones that came before it provides excellent entertainment for the entire family. The show didn’t touch upon too many deep, socially relevant topics but it did present strong family values including the importance of friends, family and hard work. Even though Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) could make most things happen by magic she typically chose to diligently work to achieve her goals. Considering this was one of the first true tween series it was important to create and maintain a reputation of trust with the parents. It also didn’t hurt that the series was well written and produced so as not to be ‘un-watchable’ by the adults. I admit that although my daughter has long since grown out of the targeted age range I continued to watch the show whenever possible. It has been a syndication staple on the ABC Family network for awhile but the DVDs are the best way to catch these episodes.

One of the main problems with a show of this kind is the cast has a nasty habit of growing up. When the series started Sabrina just turned 16 so even with a conservative counting she is around twenty two now although it is mentioned that Sabrina is only 19 in this season but who’s counting. . The title is a brand name with fan recognition so the producers kept it but the wide decision was made to allow Sabrina to grow up appropriately. By this season Sabrina has moved out of the house she shared with her two witch aunts; Zelda (Beth Broderick) and Hilda (Caroline Rhea). Sabrina is near the end of her time at Adams College and beginning to think a lot about her post graduation career. She is still sharing off campus housing with her three roommates; Morgan Cavanaugh (Elisa Donovan), Roxie King (Soleil Moon Frye) and Miles Goodman (Trevor Lissauer). One character that remains a constant throughout the series is the family’s talking pet cat Salem (voiced by Nick Bakay). By letting Sabrina grow up the producers, now including Hart and her mother, were able to follow along with an already loyal fan base looking at situations that were pertinent to a slightly older group. Sabrina still has both aunts around; Zelda is a physics professor and Hilda runs the local hang out coffee shop, but now Sabrina is an adult, fully licensed witch and is expected to resolve most of her problems on her own.

For awhile now Sabrina has had a crush on a college student Josh (David Lascher) but he was dating Morgan and she was still with her high school flame Harvey (Nate Richard). Now that are both free some initial problems come up. Josh is an aspiring photojournalist with a career prospect overseas. Once that is quickly resolved he gets a job at a local newspaper and Sabrina lands a position as an intern to further her goals as a journalist. This maintained a consistency in the character’s growth following a natural progression from school papers in high school and college to starting to spread her wings in life. The strength of the series is the way the stories and humor are character driven. The resolutions provided frequently depend more on Sabrina’s ingenuity and integrity than her magical powers. The magic used is often silly but that comes across as part of the show’s charm keeping it in tune with its comic book source material. One on the many examples of this is when Sabrina’s mother comes back to visit which results in the Witch’s council turning her into a giant ball of wax. Just to show you the level of continuity this was waxy fate was mentioned early in the first season. This season has its share of the usual sit-com antics including Josh and his hyper competitive parents turning a simple game of tennis into a blood match or trying to teach the seriously geeky Miles how to drive resulting in a fender bender and insurance fraud. Over all Sabrina successful made the transition from teen to young adult better than depicted in most light comedies. With this series the magic provides a touch of whimsy but the humor is derived from the well established personalities of the characters. One reason I remained a fan of the show was how it serves as a form of TV comfort food; nothing adventurous, just well constructed and consistently entertaining episodes. When you are in the mood for something that will give a few laughs to the entire family this series will do very nicely.

Posted 03/17/2010

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