TITLE: SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH - THE FINAL (SEVENTH) SEASON
DVD Release Date: July 27, 2010 (CBS Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 21 (+TV movie)
Packaging Type: Clear box with tray
Running Time: approx. 8 hours
Runtime of Special Features: approx. 90 minutes
Subtitles and Captioning: English SDH Subtitles
Special Features: Sabrina Goes to Rome TV Movie
Romance is in the air as the seventh - and final - season of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch arrives on DVD for the very first time. Now that Sabrina is no longer a teenage witch, her aunts decide to move back to the Other Realm (IE: Non-renewal of contracts) Yet, Sabrina needs to keep her magic powers in check as she and friends Roxie (Soleil Moon Frye) and Morgan (Elisa Donovan) move back into the auntsí old Victorian house. Meanwhile, Sabrina has landed a job as a writer for the hip music magazine Scorch, where she meets her future fiancť Aaron (Dylan Neal). But with her former crush Harvey (Nate Richer) being egged on by mischievous cat Salem (voiced by Nick Bakay), who knows which guy Sabrina will choose (Psst: Itís not that difficult a guess).
Iím going to be frank about this: thanks to reruns of the show on cable, Iíve had the opportunity to finally view these episodes, after never having gotten to watch them originally as there was no WB affiliate here at the time. And in watching them, Iíve come to hold strong to an opinion: The final season of the show is some of the most dull and uninteresting television Iíve ever watched. I donít know, maybe Iím just not the target audience for this show...but by this final season the show, while a great show early on, has degenerated to the point where I find it to be unwatchable 80% of the time. It didnít help that my favorite characters were always Sabrinaís aunts, so to have them all but written out really hurt my interest. Throw in the absurd plots designed to just shoehorn in the random guest star of the week, and you get a show thatís clearly seen better days. Now, I will say I did enjoy the finale quite a bit. Sabrina is planning on getting married, but things donít go quite according to plan Ė Sabrina literally develops a case of cold feet. The end result is Sabrinaís realization of just who she wants to be with as the series concludes after 7 seasons.
Guest stars for this season include Carson Daly, the Goo Goo Dolls, Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from the Austin Powers films), Avril Lavigne, Sally Struthers, Drew Lachey, host of The Bachelor Chris Harrison, Donny Most and Anson Williams (Happy Days), Peter Scolari (Bosom Buddies, Newhart), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Barbara Eden, David Leisure (Empty Nest), and Caroline Rhea, who reprises her role of Sabrinaís aunt Hilda in the series finale.
(Iíll go into greater detail in the next section, however, due to damage to one of the discs runtimes for some episodes are not available.)
Total Sabrina Live: 21:39
The Big Head: 22:08
Call Me Crazy: 21:13
Shift Happens: 22:08
Free Sabrina: 22:07
Sabrina Unplugged: (unknown, disc damage prevents playback)
Witch Way Out: 20:45
Itís a Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Christmas: (unknown, disc damage prevents playback)
Ping, Ping a Song: 21:50
The Lyiní, The Witch, and the Wardrobe 21:08
In Sabrina We Trust: 22:08
Sabrina in Wonderland: 22:08
Present Perfect: 22:08
Cirque du Sabrina: 22:08
Getting to Nose You: 21:22
Romance Looming: 22:08
Spellmanian Slip: 22:08
You Slay Me: 22:05
Fish Tale: 22:07
What a Witch Wants/Soul Mates: 44:00
At a shortfall of over a minute, Witch Way Out very likely may be edited. The shortened runtime is *not* a result of the aforementioned disc damage. Several other episodes also feature curiously short runtimes. The disclaimers for both episode edits and music edits DO appear on the packaging.
The plastic cases in use now by CBS DVD for just short of two years have a flaw Iíve mentioned in the past: due to their cheapness, the plastic is amazingly fragile. Nearly every set sent to me in this package style through late 2009 broke in some fashion prior to receipt, regardless of the carrier shipping the package or where the package was being shipped to/from. Naturally I developed a dislike for these plastic boxes. Eventually, they stopped breaking, and my distaste slowed to the point where I recently said I was going to stop ranting about them.
Then THIS set arrived. One of the plastic clips that would normally hold an insert booklet (but holds nothing in this set) broke clean off and dislodged disc 1 from itís cheap plastic hub, breaking the center hub itself off and leaving disc 1 to float around the package with several pieces of occasionally sharp plastic. Do the math. Disc 1 is now filled with a myriad of both surface and deep scratches. The material on the first layer appears largely unaffected. But of the stuff on the second layer two episodes wonít start, and another two episodes fritz out midway through Ė enough to gather runtime data but not enough to actually watch. Iíve gotten broken packaging before, but never something so bad it rendered an aspect of the set unplayable.
Artwork is the same as always...Color + Sparkles + White background. Color for the final set is blue. Discs are silver with the usual debossed logo. Disc 1 holds a whopping nine episodes so having it is the one to get damaged is particularly crippling. Disc 2 holds a slightly less absurd 8, while disc 3 holds the remaining episodes and the bonus (!!) TV movie is included in the set. Yes, thatís right, a non-marquee CBS DVD set with an actual bonus feature. Iím stunned.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Simplicity rules the day. Thereís a light blue background, white sparkles and magic trails, with the show logo in top left, a photo of Sabrina/Melissa Joan Hart on the right side, and the episode titles descending down and to the right from below the logo. Selected episode is highlighted in a light red text thatís hard to read against the light blue background. The only sub-menu is for the Subtitles feature, which allows you to turn off the sole subtitle track to be found on the set.
Video and Audio Quality:
I canít speak for any quality issues on the majority of the second half of disc 1. With regards to the remainder of episodes: Thereís some sort of bizarre blue-green noise thatís visibly apparent in several scenes. Itís most noticeable against solid colors, and particularly in scenes at Sabrinaís house. There are also periodic interlacing issues, and issues with color saturation. Audio is a workhorse English Stereo 2.0 track that does its job to the best of its ability. Given that the latter years of Sabrina WERE partially driven by music, a 5.1 track would have been an interesting addition, but as that would have actually cost Paramount/CBS money, well, obviously that wasnít happening. Chapter stops occur at the conclusion of each act (opening, act 1, act 2) dividing each episode into 4 total segments. This number IS increased for the final episode, which is double-length.
Amazingly enough there IS a special feature -- the Sabrina Goes to Rome TV movie. This movie aired prior to the beginning of the THIRD season (the ABC era of the show) in 1998. Why they waited this long to include it Iím not sure. Nonetheless, it IS finally on DVD for your enjoyment. The movie runs just short of 90 minutes.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a show I loved in its initial seasons but have since come to have a strong distaste for in its later years. If youíre interested in picking up a season of the show, I canít in good conscience recommend that this (or the 5th or 6th seasons either) be your starting point. Go back to the era when Sabrina was still airing on ABC and the scripts were *consistently* good on a week to week basis. If youíre a fan of the show and are only lacking this set for a complete run, you should go ahead and pick it up. Otherwise youíre doing yourself a disservice by making THIS set your Sabrina experience.
Also, keep in mind that if you order this set online that means having the set shipped to you, which means youíre going to run a far greater risk of the shoddy packaging breaking on you mid-shipment. Combine the least interesting season of a franchise thatís seen better days with packaging thatís so cheap it actually destroys the product, and you have a set so poor that getting a critic to review it is like pulling teeth. Between the mediocre to poor quality of 95% of the season, the episode edits, the occasional video quality issues, and the self-destructive packaging, I think this may well be the worst TV DVD by a professional studio Iíve ever reviewed. I donít know, maybe itís me, but I expect sets released by the actual rights holders to have a better presentation than the bootlegs you find on the internet.
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: 1/5
Final Score: 2/5
-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 07/28/10
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