Saturday, May 25, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Sabrina the Teenage Witch - Season 3

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny and creative
Cons: Extremely light, so don't expect anything else
The Bottom Line:
More magical fun
Season of family secrets
A light but fun spell

"Being a Witch Would be so Much Easier Without all the Magic."

I freely admit there is nothing deep or classic about Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  But I love the fantasy and humor the show represents.  And the third season continues to charm.

As season two ended, Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) thought got her witch's license, a step she thought would give her all knowledge and power.  Unfortunately, she finds out there's one little hitch.  She can't actually use it until she solves the Spellman family secret.  Helping her do that are her aunts Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick).  And there's also the family cat, Salem (voiced by Nick Bakay).

But Sabrina also has to deal with life as a normal teenage.  That means school.  Things haven't changed too much in that regard this season.  She still has her best friend Valerie (Lindsay Sloane) and boyfriend Harvey (Nate Richert).  Unfortunately, that also means she is dealing with head cheerleader Libby (Jenna Leigh Green) who hates Sabrina.  And even worse, Aunt Zelda has started dating vice Principal Willard Kraft (Martin Mull).

So, what kind of problems can a teenage witch get into?  She discovers that her family becomes addicted to pancakes.  Salem bets Sabrina and her aunts in a high stakes poker game - and loses.  Christmas almost goes the way of Bo Bunk.  Sabrina must face off against some pirates after her magic has turned fake.  When Sabrina and Hilda try a silent spell to keep from ruining Zelda's special night with Mr. Kraft, the house turns into a black and white silent movie.  Sabrina's life gets turned into a reality TV show against her will.  All this leads to the season finale in which we finally learn the Spellman family secret, only to learn that it might mean the end of Sabrina.

While this season doesn't start out with a birthday episode, it does include Halloween and Christmas episodes.  Somehow, they pretend that seasons two and three take place in one year so that they can keep Sabrina in high school for four years.  (She just turned sixteen as season one started), but that's a rant for another time.

What is here is plenty of fun.  Yes, the show follows a pretty basic formula, but the paths they take are always so creative that I can't help but get caught up in the episode no matter how many times I've seen it.  And yes, I keep laughing all the way through, too.

The show lived on special effects, and they really did a decent job with them.  Occasionally, you can tell when they cut a scene to add an effect, but most of the time, I'm fooled.  Okay, so I'm not trying that hard to see the trick behind the effect.  I like believing what I am watching.

The acting is great as always.  One reason I think I like the show is I love how much fun the cast seems to be having together.  Yes, I feel like even the characters we're not supposed to like actually did enjoy being on the show.  That chemistry makes me believe all the performances that much more.

And, as always, the guest cast is top notch.  N'Sync and Jerry Springer pop by as themselves for one episode.  Other guests include Ruth Buzzi and an early appearance by Frankie Muniz.  But my favorite bit of guest star casting was Julia Duffy of Newhart fame as Principal Kraft's witch of a first wife.

Like previous seasons of the show, this release is bare bones.  We get all 25 half hour episodes on four discs, and that's it.  The picture and stereo sound are good.

Nope, Sabrina the Teenage Witch wasn't breaking any new ground with season 3.  But it was fun and creative, and that keeps me coming back to keep laughing all over again.  This is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

Trivia Note: In one episode, Aunt Hilda is deported to The Other Realm because she has not properly filled out her immigration paper work.  The test she fails involves her pronouncing certain words like a Canadian.  Caroline Rhea, who plays her, is from Canada.  I always get a special kick out of that one.

Season 3 Episodes:
1. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Season Opener
2. Boy Was My Face Red
3. Suspicious Minds
4. The Pom-Pom Incident
5. Pancake Madness
6. Good Will Haunting
7. You Bet Your Family
8. And the Sabrina Goes to...
9. Nobody Nose Libby Like Sabrina Knows Libby
10. Sabrina and the Beast
11. Christmas Amnesia
12. Whose So-Called Life Is It Anyway?
13. What Price Harvey?
14. Mrs. Kraft
15. Sabrina and the Pirates
16. Sabrina, the Matchmaker
17. Salem, the Boy
18. Sabrina, the Teenage Writer
19. The Big Sleep
20. Sabrina's Pen Pal
21. Sabrina's Real World
22. The Long and Winding Shortcut
23. Sabrina, the Sandman
24. Silent Movie
25. The Good, the Bad, and the Luau

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