TITLE: SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH - THE SIXTH SEASON
Release Date: March 23, 2010 (CBS Home Entertainment)
Packaging: Viva (Eco-Box) Clear Box with tray
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 22
Running Time: 482 minutes
Running Times of Features: N/A
Audio: Dolby Digital English Stereo
Subtitles and Captioning: English; Closed Captioning
Special Features: None
It’s a season of surprises as the sixth season of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch arrives onto DVD for the first time on March 23. As Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) continues her studies at Adams College in Boston, she also works on a city newspaper alongside Josh (David Lascher), her new boyfriend. She still has to keep her magic powers a secret from him as well as her roommates Miles (Trevor Lissauer), Roxie (Soleil Moon Frye) and Morgan (Elisa Donovan) who now dates Sabrina’s former boyfriend Harvey (Nate Ritchert). And while Zelda (Beth Broderick) is stuck trying to control their mischievous cat Salem (voice of Nick Bakay) her sister Hilda (Caroline Rhea) shocks everyone when she gets married. The sixth season was the final for Josh, Miles, Hilda, and Zelda as all four were largely written out for the show’s final season.
In the effort of full disclosure: As I did not have The WB in 2001-02, and haven’t had the desire to watch the entire series in reruns, this DVD set is my first exposure to the season.
The season begins with the appropriately-titled “Really Big Season Opener” premiere episode. Sabrina and Miles produce a student horror film that includes among other clichés a vampire. In trying to perfect the cast as any good filmmaker would, they wind up auditioning…a real vampire. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s aunts (did the writers keep them around just for tradition at this point?) get called for “Scare Duty” -- teaching the next generation how to be more frightening. Unfortunately the duo takes an old school approach that doesn’t resonate with the kids, forcing them to update their ways.
The season’s Halloween episode, “Murder on the Halloween Express,” is also interesting as it’s a style parody of the great train mysteries of the past in its own unique way. The season’s ninth episode, “A Birthday Witch,” is notable for its guest stars -- one of whom is a great reminder of sitcoms past, while the other is a reminder of a musical one-hit wonder from the 90s that never actually went away. First we have Barbara Eden -- the one and only Jeannie -- portraying Sabrina’s great aunt Irma in the episode. Meanwhile, the three members of ‘90s musical act Hanson (remember the song Mmmbop? That’s them.) appear as guest stars as well.
Speaking of guest stars and anachronistic ‘90s musical acts, Sisqo appears in the first episode, the aforementioned “Really Big Season Opener.” Adrienne Barbeau appears as herself in the hilarious B-plot of “The Gift of Gab.” Beginning in the season’s third episode “What’s News?” and continuing to appear sporadically later onwards is George Wendt (Norm! [Cheers]) as first Josh and later Sabrina’s boss at the newspaper. Carnie Wilson -- one third of the musical group Wilson Phillips and currently one of the forces of destruction of my former favorite TV channel (GSN) -- is a guest in the episode “Sabrina and the Candidate.”
Musical artist Usher (seriously noticing a pattern here) is in the episode “I Think I Love You”, while Barbara Eden returns for another hilarious episode in “The Arrangement.” The episode “Sabrina and the Kiss” features a later-era cast member of the show Knots Landing -- Kathleen Noone (who played the character Claudia). The episode “The Competition” features tennis player Andy Roddick. Roddick is now considered the top American in men’s tennis, but at the time he was just an up-and-coming newbie in the sport, so it’s interesting to see him here before his breakthrough year in 2003. Debbe Dunning, who America most likely best remembers as Heidi from Home Improvement, appears in “I, Busybody.” The episode “Guilty!” features John O’Hurley -- Seinfeld’s J. Peterman -- as well as Conchata Ferrell, who now plays Berta -- the funniest character on Two and a Half Men. Masi Oka, who would go on to success with Heroes appears in “The Whole Ball of Wax.” Finally, as if this wasn’t the oddest special guest stars section I’ve written in six years of DVD reviews: former professional wrestler Joanie Laurer (best known to wrestling fans as her WWF/WWE character Chyna) appears in “Driving Mr. Goodman”). The episode “The Whole Ball of Wax” also features Alley Mills (The Wonder Years) as Sabrina’s mother.
Episode List and Runtimes on DVD:
Really Big Season Opener: 21:45
Sabrina’s Date with Destiny: 22:05
What’s News: 22:01
Murder on the Halloween Express: 22:05
The Gift of Gab: 22:06
Thin Ice: 22:06
Hex, Lies, and No Videotape: 22:05
Humble Pie: 21:58
Birthday Witch: 22:06
Deliver Us from E-Mail: 22:05
Cloud Ten: 22:06
Sabrina and the Candidate: 21:54
I Think I Love You: 22:05
The Arrangement: 21:25
Time After Time: 22:06
Sabrina and the Kiss: 21:55
The Competition: 21:01
I, Busybody: 22:05
The Whole Ball of Wax: 21:35
Driving Mr. Goodman: 22:06
I Fall to Pieces: 22:05
Both the “Some episodes may be edited...” and “Music has been changed...” disclaimers appear. Remember my disclosure statement earlier? I don’t know what was here in the first place but generally speaking the farther the runtime is from 22 minutes per episode the more likely it is to be edited.
After a couple of years of complaints on my part I finally bothered to figure out who actually manufactures the DVD packaging used by CBS DVD on nearly all of their TV DVD sets. The packaging, a clear plastic case, is manufactured by Viva as part of their Eco-Box line. I was a bit surprised to see the Eco-Box logo stamped on the side as the set doesn’t feature the stupid recycle-logo shaped section of cut-out plastic that’s typical in the Eco-Box line. I haven’t had any issues with plastic clip breakage -- the primary fault -- in some time, so hopefully the quality control issues have been resolved once and for all. I’ve grown to like this package type; I’ve merely had several quality issues in the past with it.
Cover art can be seen above. I’m of the mind it’s fairly generic and not really spending much time dwelling on, so I won’t. Discs are the same silver-artwork-with-disc-surface-logo style that EVERY DVD from this studio has used for seemingly forever. No surprises there.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The one menu on the disc IS extremely well-designed, but there is only one menu per disc. All episodes are selectable directly from the main menu (standard operating procedure for this studio). The currently selected episode title appears in a blue and orange version of the same font as the rest of the episode titles -- which in their inactive state are white.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video isn’t horrible, but it’s also not very great. Colors are washed out. There are grain and interlacing issues. Skin tones appear overly red and make most of the actors look radioactive. Audio has no major flaws. It isn’t spectacular. Chapter stops occur at the end of each act. For Sabrina’s purposes that’s after the opening titles, and after each of the two principal acts.
No bonus features of any sort. Not particularly surprising, but always disappointing.
The season was better than I otherwise might have given it credit for. The show continued to find new and interesting things to do with the characters. The show still has one final year left with a reduced cast, before Sabrina (literally) rides off into the sunset for good. For the final season’s DVD I’d love to see really *any* sort of bonus features. Interviews, commentary, just about anything would be a nice addition. I don’t have high hopes, but you never know.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 3.5/5
Special Features: 0/5
Final Score: 3/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 03/16/10
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