Thursday, April 17, 2014

TV on DVD Review: Sabrina the Teenage Witch - Season 7


Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Some funny episodes, mainly in the second half
Cons: Too familiar; weak first half
The Bottom Line:
The final magic
Done in by a slow first half
For the fans only




"Fast Unexplained Exits are Kind of Her Specialty."

I think by this point, it was time to say goodbye to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and I think just about everyone knew it.  I mean, when your main character is no longer a teenager but that's part of the title of the series, it's just time to move on, right?  Despite some attempts to changes things around (or because of it), season seven isn't my favorite, although it does provide some fun moments.

After cramming three years of high school into the first four seasons, Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) manages to graduate from college in just two.  She and her roommates/friends Roxie (Soleil Moon Frye) and Morgan (Elisa Donovan) move into her aunt's house as they try to start their lives by finding jobs.  Her aunts?  In the weirdest resolve of the weirdest cliffhanger, they are turned into teenagers themselves and go back to the other realm.  (Never mind that Caroline Rhea has a cameo in the series finale).  That just leaves a few random bits of magic around the house in addition to Salem the cat (voiced by Nick Bakay).

Sabrina gets a job at a hip trendy magazine called Scorch and spends much of the first half of the season trying to prove to her boss that she can do her job.  It gives us plenty of chances to see actors playing musicians, and, of course, spells to go wrong.  She, Morgan, and Roxie join a singing competition thanks to some magic talent.  Plus she switches personalities with a mean rapper.

Late in the season, Sabrina meets Aaron (Dylan Neal), a handsome record label owner.  The two quickly fall in love and plan to get married.  The only problem is Harvey (Nate Rickert) is still in the picture.  Does he still love Sabrina?  Will that stop her from marrying Aaron?

Actually, I find the season picks up once Aaron comes into the picture.  Until then, we've got the same old same old with a different setting.  Substitute Roxie and Morgan for the aunts, for example.  They get many B stories like the aunts used to get, only these don't involve magic.  And Sabrina still creates spells that get out of hand, only now she needs Salem and Harvey to point that out to her instead of her aunts.

My problems with the first half of the season are two fold.  First, Sabrina's desperation at work just isn't funny, and I never can warm up to Annie (Diana-Maria Riva), her boss, who is mean to Sabrina for no reason.  Second, watching Sabrina's magic get out of hand and her over react is funny as a teenager but cringe worthy in an adult.  Not to mention, she should have learned how to control it by now.

Not to say there aren't some very fun episodes here.  I enjoy "In Sabrina We Trust" where the out of hand spell gets the entire city trusting Sabrina.  The magical systems check the house undergoes at the beginning is pretty funny as well.  Her attempts to be perfect in "Present Perfect" are pretty good as well, and the Wonderland theme in the episode where she first meets Aaron is lots of fun.

There is a certain amount of overacting from the cast, but it fits the show and helps make the wacky just that much more believable.  The special effects are great, and with all the magic there are quite a few of them.

Despite what the packaging says, there were 22 episodes in season seven.  The final two were just aired back to back, and they are lumped together here as well to give us "21" episodes.  They are all presented in their original full frame and stereo sound.  The issues I had with my season six set have been fixed, and I didn't have any problems with this set.

Which brings us to the special feature.  That's right, for the first time in the series, we actually get one.  It's the TV movie Sabrina Goes to Rome.  Don't ask me why we haven't seen the other two movies released on earlier sets or why this wasn't part of the season 2 or 3 set since that's when it was filmed.  But since it was the better of the two TV movies I've seen, I'll take it.

This movie finds Sabrina and stowaway Salem heading to Rome to try to open a locket.  Sealed inside the locket is an aunt she hasn't heard of before who was banished after revealing her secret to a mortal.  Unfortunately, Sabrina's new roommate Gwen (Tara Charendoff Strong) is a struggling witch who gets them noticed by Paul (Eddie Mills), a cute guy that Sabrina has run into - literally.  Paul is a tabloid journalist who starts getting close to Sabrina to get proof of her secret so he can become rich.  Or will love win?

Like many episodes of the series, the ending of this one is never in doubt.  And yet it's fun.  The story draws you in and makes you care. (Although considering how serious Sabrina was about Harvey at the time, why is there no mention of him?)  The story moves along quickly, and the acting and special effects are on par for the series.  It was actually filmed in Rome, and that makes it feel real and helps draw me in as well.

Honestly, Sabrina Goes to Rome is the best part of this collection.  Don't get me wrong, there are still some fun episodes in season seven, but the best of Sabrina the Teenage Witch was definitely behind us.  I'm glad it ended here.

Season 7 Episodes:
1. Total Sabrina Live
2. The Big Head
3. Call Me Crazy
4. Shift Happens
5. Free Sabrina
6. Sabrina Unplugged
7. Witch Way Out
8. Bada-Ping!
9. It's a Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Christmas
10. Ping Ping a Song
11. The Lyin', the Witch, and the Wardrobe
12. In Sabrina We Trust
13. Sabrina in Wonderland
14. Present Perfect
15. Cirque du Sabrina
16. Getting to Nose You
17. Romance Looming
18. Spellmanian Slip
19. You Slay Me
20. A Fish Tale
21. What a Witch Wants
22. Soul Mates

2 comments:

  1. This comment gets to the heart of it! Maybe a bit too nice ;)
    The authors and producers were apparently much too sloppy to create an inherently consistent story.
    Well done Mark! And thanks for articulating what I can't express (in English).

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    1. I think you did a fine job of expressing yourself in English. And yes, maybe my like of the earlier seasons made me too easy on this season.

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