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DVD Review: Sabrina the Teenage Witch Season – The Fifth Season

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Sabrina the Teenage Witch was one of the many supernatural themed shows of the late '90s and early '00s. Unlike shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, Sabrina was not an ironic or postmodern take on the supernatural. Sabrina had a more earnest tone, and was endearingly cheesy. It has more in common with classic '60s shows such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie than with its contemporaries.

For those who have never seen the show, here is quick overview. Sabrina Spellman (played by Melissa Joan Hart) is half-mortal and half-witch. She is sent to live with her two aunts, Aunt Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Aunt Zelda (Beth Broderick), during high school. Her aunts have a talking cat, Salem Saberhagen (Nick Bakay) who was formerly a witch and has been imprisoned as a cat. On Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday, she found out that she was a witch. The show deals with Sabrina trying to balance her regular life as a teenage girl with her life as a witch. Many of the episodes follow the same formula. Sabrina has a small problem, tries to fix it with magic, makes everything worse, and then asks her aunts for help.

While Sabrina may been squarer than its contemporaries, it was not without its social commentary. Many commentators saw Sabrina living with her two spinster aunts as an analogy for a child raised in a gay household. The relationships between witches, mortals, and half-mortals sometimes comment on race relations. Nearly every episode deals with the issue of responsibility. A few episodes deal with individuality and the concept of staying true to yourself.

In season five Sabrina has finished high school and is now attending Adams College. She moves out of her aunts’ house and moves to campus housing with her new roommates, Miles (Trevor Lissauer), Roxie (Soleil Moon Frye), and Morgan (Elise Donovan). Miles is a paranoid conspiracy theorist science geek, Roxie is an acerbic rebel, and Morgan is the shallow rich girl who is obsessed with her looks.

There are other changes in the storyline. Aunt Hilda buys the coffee shop Sabrina works at. Aunt Zelda takes a position as a professor at Adams College.

The first few episodes are a bit slow as Sabrina and her aunts are moving around and the new characters are being introduced. The new characters take some time to find their footing, Roxie in particular. She starts as more of a misanthrope and ends the season as a free spirit.

Melissa Joan Hart had directed an episode the previous season and she directs two here: “Halloween Scene” and “My Best Shot”. She does not quite have complete control of her directing. In “Halloween Scene”, there are a few oddly framed shots, but the show’s manic energy is kept up. The story in “My Best Shot” drags a bit but Hart does a good job with the actors in a more sentimental episode.

Anyone who enjoys the humor of this series will thoroughly enjoy this season. It is one of the best in the series. Every episode is full of the cheesy one-liners, manic misunderstandings, and cartoonish special effects that are the show’s signature. The new characters are likable, and good foils for Sabrina. Sabrina has a few romantic story arcs this season, but the focus is on the comedy of the individual episodes. The show had not yet become the soap opera it became towards the end of the series.

Sadly, for fans of the series there are no special features on the DVD.

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About Mark Kalriess