Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: Sabrina: The Animated Series (1999)

It was just a matter of time.

As the live-action Sabrina, The Teenage Witch entered its 4th season on ABC, the network added an animated prequel, which recast Sabrina as a 12 year old. DIC (now part of Cookie Jar, and part of the Disney family at the time, making it a sister company to ABC) collaborated with series star Melissa Joan Hart's production company, Hartbreak Films, and with producer Savage Steve Holland (ex-Eek The Cat) to bring Sabrina: The Animated Series to the air. 65 episodes were ordered, to air in syndication and/or UPN's Disney's One Too weekday block while concurrerntly being part of Disney's One Saturday Morning on ABC. ABC was able to keep the series running until October 2001, when it was cut to make room for Mary-Kate & Ashley In Action.

Hart served as a producer and a supporting performer in this series, giving the pre-teen Sabrina over to sister Emily while voicing aunts Hilda & Zelda (Caroline Rhea & Beth Broderick in the primetime series). The animation was in line with the comedy series DIC was producing at the time, a far cry from the lush, full linework of their 80's series (i.e. The Real Ghostbusters, Inspector Gadget).

Right now, let's scope the episode, "A Tale of Two Kitties", spotlighting Salem:

Archie Comics had rebooted Sabrina to fit the look of the live-action series, and did some stories based on the cartoon as well, as I seem to recall. However, with due respect to Melissa Joan Hart, Sabrina looks best in her classic look, with platinum blonde hair, not basic blonde. As a pre-teen, Sabrina's hair is longer, suggesting that it would be cut well before she turns 16, as she is depicted initially in the live-action series.

Rating: C.


Scoobyfan1 said...

Truthfully this wasn't a bad show, and admittedly(as I was born in 1984) I equate the character of Sabrina Spellman with the Melissa Joan Hart live action series, as well as this series.

The sequel series Sabrina's Secret Life wasn't too bad either BTW. I have to admit also that the casting of Melissa Joan Hart in Sabrina the Animated Series as Hilda and Zelda and Emily Hart doing the voice of Sabrina was pretty good.

Emily Hart seemed to fill the shoes of Melissa Joan Hart very well, and I think this and the live action series were great ways of keeping the character alive, as the previous incarnation of Sabrina at least on TV, hadn't been in first run since 1977.

Another thing that I think helped both series out is that digital cable was still new at that point(so the 500 channels for your average TV provider were still a new idea at the time), and networks like Boomerang and Nick Toons were still getting off the ground.

That, and the fact that Saturday morning TV still had some decent shows on the major networks(like this show) at this point, plus there were still some good shows on over the air stations on weekday afternoons and mornings, plus DVDs, youtube and streaming media were also new technologies at that point helped a show like this get a decent audience.

It's really a shame, because my generation(growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s) was probably the last one to have good Saturday Morning programming, as opposed to shows being programmed by other networks or companies(ABC's E/I block, NBC via Qubo I believe, etc.).

Of course, there's no reason for Saturday morning programming anymore because of changing technologies, i.e. DVDs and streaming video being popular now.

It really boggles the mind to think about that, but technology has changed so much since the year 2000 that things we had and sometimes took for granted, now maybe wouldn't be used by the average person because they could say "Oh, I can just watch that on DVD", as opposed to waiting for something to air on television, possibly waiting for a number of months.

One last thing though about Sabrina: considering this and the live action show were more normal adaptations of the character, I wonder what kind of character we're going to get in the new Sabrina animated series on The Hub this year, or in the movie that Sony Pictures is supposed to be making, or in the process of making.

Although, what's interesting(and worrysome to Sabrina fans probably, or at least it should be) is the fact that Ashley Tisdale is going to voice Sabrina in the new cartoon series.

It seems to me that having these teen actors and actresses are just networks and producers playing to the younger demographic, as opposed to having someone who can actually to the character justice.

hobbyfan said...

Wait. A NEW Sabrina series on The Hub? With Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical, Phineas & Ferb, Suite Life of Zack & Cody) as Sabrina? Ashley's done primetime, though "Wildcats" was a dud a couple of years back, and has enough experience to make it work, but we'll have to wait & see.

I have a Sabrina fan-fic cooking in the oven (my brain) to use in the Story Board down the road, so watch for it......

Scoobyfan1 said...

@hobbyfan: that's cool on the fan fic, i'll definitely have to watch for it.

As for the new Sabrina series, and the casting, here's an online article about it:

hobbyfan said...

Ohhh, man, if this takes off, maybe a new Archie series would be down the road, or even Josie & the Pussycats.

Let's not forget there are some other Archie properties that haven't been adapted for television yet, like the Mighty Crusaders, and the rest of the Archie heroes.