HTF DVD REVIEW: Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Third Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
    Reviewer

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    Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Third Season
    Directed by Linda Day et al

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1998-1999
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Running Time: 542 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
    Subtitles: CC
    MSRP: $42.99

    Release Date: January 15, 2008
    Review Date: January 9, 2008


    The Series

    3/5

    Teenager Sabrina Spellman continued on her journey toward mastering her magical skills in the third season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a fondly remembered, good-natured sitcom that never achieved the high ratings or critical accolades of its most obvious ancestor Bewitched but which held down key time slots on ABC’s Friday night schedule during its multiyear run.

    All of the primary cast members from season two returned for season three of the program. Melissa Joan Hart was the well meaning but occasionally headstrong Sabrina. Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick were helpful but sometimes overwhelmed guardian aunts Hilda and Zelda. Nate Richert continued as Sabrina’s wholesome love interest Harvey while Lindsay Sloane returned as Sabrina’s best friend Valerie. Finally Martin Mull continued in his recurring role as the Vice Principal of Westbridge High School and began dating Zelda this season after flirting with Hilda in season two. Most importantly, Nick Bakay added continual, consistent merriment to the proceedings as the voice of Salem the cat. (The anamatronic cat is the show’s great claim to comedy fame. His dialog and the clever way he’s outfitted and worked into each episode gives many of the shows their only lasting appeal.)

    The stories in season three continued along the same formulas as the previous seasons. Sabrina is still klutzy and untrained in her use of magic and often overdoes spells or disobeys warnings about using certain charms which always leads to wacky problems. Salem is constantly busy with antics that will keep him occupied with his own interests while he looks for ways to restore himself to his proper form as a warlock. All of this must be kept secret from Vice Principal Kraft and from boy friend Harvey, neither of whom is aware of the magical relatives living and performing spells in one abode. In addition, in season three, Sabrina, having been granted her witch’s license the previous season, learns that she can’t yet be fully licensed until she learns her “family secret,” so recurring throughout season three are clues from various relatives leading Sabrina to her astonishing discovery.

    The show was never big on guest stars, but season three definitely offered some: Donald Faison (currently one of the stars of Scrubs), Dom DeLuise, Edward Albert, Jerry Springer, and Alex Rocco. The Halloween episode offered quite a few cast members from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in supporting roles: Ruth Buzzi, Alan Sues, Dave Madden, Gary Owens, and Joanne Worley. Henry Gibson, also a cast regular on that show, appeared as a judge in a couple of episodes later in the season. The Valentine’s episode featured a guest appearance by hot boy band at the time N’Sync. (Yes, we were ALL younger back then.)

    Here’s the listing of all twenty-five episodes from season three arranged on the four discs:

    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 (my favorite episode of the season)
    25 - The Good, the Bad, and the Luau


    Video Quality

    3.5/5

    The program’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is presented as broadcast on these four discs. Because there is no anamorphic enhancement, aliasing and moiré patterns are all over the place, and sharpness varies from episode to episode. Some shows definitely look better than others, but all have above average color to handle the array of magical spells that each episode features. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters.

    Audio Quality

    3/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mixes are nothing special, but they do the job they’re intended to do. Dolby Prologic places the music and magical sound effects in the rear channels for some added effect. There is a caveat in the liner notes warning the buyer that some music has been changed from the original network broadcast.

    Special Features

    0/5

    The set offers no special features at all, not even a commentary or an outtake reel.

    In Conclusion

    3/5 (not an average)

    The third season of Sabrina the Teenage Witch comes in a barebones release which should please fans who want to collect the entire series. One regrets that a little more effort couldn’t have been expended to offer a few bonuses for fans of this mildly pleasant show.


    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     

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