January 28, 2017

SABRINA: THE ANIMATED SERIES

SABRINA: THE ANIMATED SERIES
(Syndication, September 6, 1999-February 27, 2000)

Archie Comics, Savage Studios, Hartbreak Films, DiC Entertainment, Buena Vista International

            After over 20 years, Sabrina the Teenage Witch made a return to television. In 1996, Showtime aired a film based on the character starring Melissa Joan Hart in the title role. The film followed Sabrina’s discovery of her witchly abilities on her 16th birthday and how she tried to use those powers to get Seth (Ryan Reynolds) away from popular girl Katie (Lalainia Lindbjerg). The film performed well-enough for ABC to invest in a spin-off television series developed by Nell Scovell and Jonathan Schmock. Sabrina, The Teenage Witch revamped the movie’s plot for the pilot and followed Sabrina as she dealt with being a typical teen who just happened to have magical powers. Hart was the only actor carried over from the film, with Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick assuming the roles of her aunts Hilda and Zelda, Nate Richert playing love-interest Harvey Kinkle, and Nick Bakay as the voice of warlock-turned-cat Salem Saberhagen.

DVD cover featuring Salem, Quigly, best friend Chloe, Hilda, Sabrina, Zelda, Harvey and rival Gem.

             In 1999, Savage Steve Holland spun the television series off into an animated series for a younger audience. Sabrina: The Animated Series followed the same premise as the live sitcom, but Sabrina (Emily Hart) was reduced to middle school age. Hilda and Zelda (both Melissa Joan Hart) continued their roles as Sabrina’s mentors, but had been reduced to teenagers as punishment by head-witch Enchantra (Jane Mortifee) for misusing their magic. Their guardian was a new character created for the series, Uncle Quigley (Jay Brazeau), who came from Sabrina’s human side of the family and possessed no magical powers. Bakay reprised his role of Salem, and Harvey (Bill Switzer) was changed from Sabrina’s boyfriend to having a mutual crush on her. The film and both shows were produced by Hartbreak Films, the production company run by Melissa and Emily’s mother, Paula.

The Sabrina comic.


            Sabrina: The Animated Series ran in syndication for a single season of 65 episodes. It was shown concurrently on ABC’s Disney’s One Saturday Morning programming block and UPN’s Disney’s One Too block on Sundays, as well as on UPN’s weekday lineup. To commemorate the sitcom, Archie Comics had relaunched their Sabrina title with updated character designs reflective of the show. After 32 issues, the series was rebooted once again in 2000 and published adventures based on the cartoon. When the series was cancelled, Archie returned Sabrina to a teenager with #38 until an all-new continuity and a manga style was adopted with #58. 

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