Friday, July 5, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Sabrina the Teenage Witch - Season 5

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots of changes keeps the sitcom fun
Cons: Light. Won't appeal to everyone. No extras.
The Bottom Line
Magical sitcom
Feels fresh in its fifth season
Many changes made

"Never Send a Woman to do a Cat's Job."

Season 5 of Sabrina the Teenage Witch brought lots of changes to the show.  The show moved from ABC to the WB.  Sabrina finally left high school and many of those characters behind.  But with all the changes, the show was still funny.

Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) is heading to college, but she's just moving across town.  She's found an apartment close to campus where she is sharing a room with the prickly Roxie (Soleil Moon Frye).  Down the hall is paranormal expert Miles (Trevor Lissauer).  And their resident advisor, who puts in a full 24 hours (just not all in the same day), is Morgan (Elisa Donovan).

But what about her aunts?  They are still very much involved in Sabrina's life.  Zelda (Beth Broderick) gets a teaching job at the college, while Hilda (Caroline Rhea) buys the coffee shop where Sabrina works with Josh (David Lascher).  And talking cat Salem (voiced by Nick Bakay) still manages to keep causing trouble for everyone.

Season 4 ended with a major cliffhanger.  After trying to decide between long time boyfriend Harvey and new crush Josh, Sabrina discovered that Harvey had learned her secret.  That was too much for him, and apart from a couple of cameo appearances Nate Richert isn't around this season at all.  But that doesn't mean that Sabrina and Josh start dating.  Before that can happen, Morgan gets her claws into Josh.

Also gone are plots that rely on Sabrina casting a spell and things getting comically out of hand.  Yes, those plots still happen, like when she casts a spell to make herself go faster, causing her roommates to run slow.  Instead, we get stories about Sabrina investigating Morgan's sorority and working to help the residence of an apartment complex about to be destroyed.  She becomes the most hated person on campus when she rallies against preferential treatment for athletes.

Not that magic is completely gone from her life.  Hilda's biological clock gets lost, and she might never be able to do magic again.  Her evil twin resurfaces and almost gets her stuck in the Other Realm.  While attempting to throw a Halloween party to end all Halloween parties, she gets caught in a domestic fight between Frankenstein and his Bride.  And thanks to Miles, Sabrina must face off against the leader of a cult who might be a witch and almost gets kicked out of her house when his paranormal detection device picks up something strange around her.

To be honest, it was only this time around that I noticed the loss of the formula that had served the show for the first four seasons.  And it's a welcome break, frankly.  The shows are still funny, but they aren't quite as predictable.  The more grounded stories allow the actors a chance to play things more realistically as well, and the acting continues to be fine.

There are lots of changes, and the one I still don't care for is the lack of Harvey.  I always loved his character.  But the new ones more than make up for it.  Morgan, Roxie, and Miles are all lots of fun, and they each bring something different to the show.  It's nice to see new characters that really do add new dynamics, so that's something else they got right this season.

There were 22 episodes this season, and they are preserved here on 3 discs in full screen and stereo sound.  We get nothing in the way of extras, but plenty in the way of laughs.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch was always a light sitcom, and that continues with season 5.  If you are a fan of the show, you'll find much to appreciate with this set.

Season 5 Episodes:
1. Every Which Way but Loose
2. Double Time
3. Heat of the Matter
4. You Can't Twin
5. House of PI's
6. The Halloween Scene
7. Welcome Traveler
8. Some of My Best Friends are Half-Mortal
9. Lost @ C
10. Sabrina's Perfect Christmas
11. My Best Shot
12. Tick-Tock Hilda's Clock
13. Sabrina's New Roommate
14. Making the Grade
15. Love is a Many Complicated Thing
16. Sabrina, the Muse
17. Beach Blanket Bizarro
18. Witchright Hall
19. Sabrina, the Activist
20. Do You See What I See
21. Sabrina's Got Spirit
22. Finally!

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