Writers: Jack Mendelsohn, Jim Mulligan, Bob Ogle, Chuck Menville, Len Jansen, Jim Ryan, Bill Danch
Director: Hal Sutherland
Original Air Date (as part of her own series): Saturday, September 11, 1971
Sabrina the Teenage Witch debuted in Archie’s Madhouse, No. 22, in October of 1962, created and written by George Gladir and designed and drawn by Dan DeCarlo. Gladir recalled in 2007: “I think we both envisioned it as a one-shot and were surprised when fans asked for more. We continued to do Sabrina stories off and on in Mad House until 1969 when we were flabbergasted to hear it was to become an animated [TV series]. When it came to naming Sabrina I decided to name her after a woman I recalled from my junior high school days … who was very active in school affairs, and who assigned a number of us to interview prominent people in the media. In addition, the woman’s name had a New England ring to it. Some years later I recalled the woman’s name was not Sabrina, but actually Sabra Holbrook.”
Sabrina Spellman is a “half-witch”; she has a mortal (human) mother and a witch (immortal) father. However, she lives with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda, and she has a pet cat named Salem Saberhagen. She has a mortal boyfriend named Harvey Kinkle, who I’m amazed made it to his teenage years without killing himself out of embarrassment.
Filmation adapted not only the main Archie Comics characters to television but also Sabrina the Teenage Witch and her supporting cast. Sabrina made her animated debut when “The Archie Show” expanded to a one-hour format in 1969, retitled “The Archie Comedy Hour”. The Sabrina segments were later repackaged as a series called “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” for airing starting in 1971. Actually, it’s probably more convoluted than that. My point is we’ll be taking a look at the second Sabrina segment that originally aired in 1969. I chose the second segment, because it features more characters.
Before we get into the story, though, I should mention one big change made to Sabrina’s origin since her debut. Originally, Hilda and Zelda wanted to create a third evil witch, but they accidentally made Sabrina good. Yeah, Sabrina was made as a “teenager”. No parents. And, yeah, Sabrina’s aunts and other witches were bad in the early days of the comic and tried to pressure Sabrina to be bad a well. That’s not the case today, but it’s what things were like back then. As for Sabrina’s origin, it has absolutely no impact on the plot of this story.
As evidenced by the numerous writers listed above (I assume that’s a collective series credit), the main voice cast is equally difficult to determine, since Wikipedia, IMDb, and the series’ actual closing credits differ as to who was actually involved in the series and in which role(s). Wikipedia and IMDb say Don Messick voiced Harvey, but he’s not listed in the show’s credits. Wikipedia says Howard Morris voiced Ambrose, but IMDb says Messick did. Compounding matters, the show’s credits list Larry D. Mann, who seemed to voice only characters on the “Groovie Goolies” segments (which aren’t included here). It’s a mess. The only thing that I can say with certainty is Jane Webb voiced Sabrina and all of the other female characters.
Okay, let’s look at the story (sorry for the quality of the screencaps; the YouTube video that I downloaded was weird; I actually decided to downscale the so-called “HD” video, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix anything else).
The theme song is likely just scenes from the series (I recognize some shots from the first segment). It concludes with Sabrina magically creating the series’ logo while flying on her broom, which includes a…palm tree? Giant sunflower? Fucked if I know.
Welcome to La Casa de Sabrina.
Sabrina doesn’t introduce the segments, and she doesn’t have her own musical numbers.
She just talks to you for a bit while listening to a record of “Sugar, Sugar”. Yay.
By the way, the editing is really weird in this scene. It pans out to reveal more of Sabrina, and then there are two different back-to-back insert shots of Sabrina, followed by a repeat of the full shot. It seems like a way-too-complex way to extend the visuals, so she can keep talking; it would have been far easier to simply keep her lips moving, perhaps by just looping a second or two of video.
Anyway, Sabrina talks about keeping her secret but also OPENLY DEMONSTRATES her magic to her audience. I guess we don’t count, though, because we’re not a threat to her.
Harvey comes by in his clown car to pick up Sabrina for school.
Hilda and Zelda are magically cleaning dishes in the kitchen, and Harvey’s interruption disrupts Hilda’s concentration, causing her to break dishes.
Sabrina tells Harvey that she’ll be right down. Harvey touts the new muffler on his “buggy”, which is loud as fuck (and his car is not eco-friendly in the slightest), but Sabrina calls it “groovy”, no doubt to spare his feelings.
This gives Hilda an idea.
Sabrina comes out and realizes “Aunt Hilda is picking on Harvey again”, so she uses magic to reverse it. She performs magic on this series by tugging on her earlobe.
Sabrina gets in the car, and they drive off.
Harvey asks about the strange things that always happen to him around her house, and Sabrina’s like “Dunno what the fuck you talkin’ ’bout”, which I guess is her go-to response.
Sabrina realizes, to her dismay, that she has the hiccups, which causes magic to go haywire in witches. Sure, why the hell not?
Harvey says they’re gonna be late and wishes they had wings. Sabrina hiccups.
Harvey doesn’t notice they’re flying, because…he’s not looking where he’s going? Beats me. He also babbles about how his “new cushion tires sure hug the road”. This is so stupid.
Sabrina hiccups again, and they go faster. She tugs her earlobe to set them down.
Despite going fast for only a few seconds, the speed of their arrival at the school surprises Harvey. Sabrina gets out and tells a dumbfounded Harvey to hurry the fuck up.
Later, Sabrina’s walking down the hall, relieved at her
lucky bullshit “close” call, and hiccups again.
We get an insert shot (which doesn’t match the preceding or following shots at all), because the animators didn’t know how to smoothly transition to this:
Just have Sabrina walking on the left side of the screen and then bamf the elephant into the shot. It’s not difficult.
Mr. Weatherbee comes by and tells the elephant to go fuck itself. Sabrina bamfs the elephant away, and Mr. Weatherbee is satisfied. He then goes into his office and does that sitcom trope where he has a delayed reaction of shock to what he’d just seen and faints.
Sabrina runs into a closet and magically sends for cousin Ambrose, hoping he’ll have a cure for the hiccups. Remember how I said Sabrina was originally created by her “aunts”? What’s this “cousin” bullshit?
Ambrose is at a pizzeria in “Roma” and compliments the owner while doing a stereotypical Italian accent. Tony should have kick Ambrose’s ass to the curb.
What was Sabrina saying earlier? Something about keeping magic a secret?
Sabrina apologizes for summoning Ambrose, hiccups (which does nothing), and pretty much demands he help her. No asking. No “please”.
Ambrose agrees and calls one of his “colleagues in the medical field”.
The “doctor” scares the shit out of Miss Grundy and chases her as well as the nurse.
Mr. Weatherbee can’t get the nurse to stop.
However, he has a chat with “Doctor Ungawa” and seems to start to have a delayed reaction to him, but it takes Ambrose bamfing Ungawa away to really freak Mr. Weatherbee out. He chases after the nurse.
Sabrina hiccups Ambrose away just as he figures out the cure for her hiccups. Ha.
Miss Grundy witnesses Mr. Weatherbee chasing the nurse. Mr. Weatherbee stops in his tracks, goes back into his office, calls for Doctor Ungawa, and then faints. Confused delayed reaction?
Ambrose bamfs in in front of Miss Grundy and offers her a drink.
She gladly accepts, no questions asked. What is it with this show and mismatching backgrounds?
Ambrose realizes Miss Grundy isn’t Sabrina (no fucking shit!), but it’s too late. Ambrose bamfs out. The cure seemingly does nothing to Miss Grundy. She just recites the often-recited line in the Filmation Archieverse (“I didn’t see that”) in reaction to Ambrose bamfing out, even though she seemed perfectly fine with him bamfing in.
Sabrina bamfs herself into class. What was that about keeping her magic a secret? Oh, well, probably not important.
Jughead doesn’t notice, because he’s so into his textbook (ha! yeah, right!) with pictures of jets. I guess no one else saw Sabrina suddenly appear either.
Anyway, Jughead starts doing “flying” motions with his arms, Sabrina hiccups, and Jughead turns into a jet pilot. Sure, why the hell not?
Reggie finds this hilarious but otherwise doesn’t react to Jughead suddenly changing clothes.
Sabrina hiccups again, and Reggie’s suddenly wearing a dress. Archie, Veronica, and Betty laugh at this, because cross-dressing is funny.
Reggie says “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle”, Sabrina hiccups, and a monkey appears. In stark contrast to the adults, the teens find this magic hilarious.
Sabrina nervously and quietly gets the fuck out of there.
Sabrina is relieved to see Salem (who’s red here instead of his usual black as in the comics), who came to school…for some reason.
Sabrina hiccups and turns Salem into a frog…
…and then a pig…
…and then…whatever the fuck this is.
Sabrina lobes Salem back to his normal, cute self.
Salem’s like “Go the fuck home, you stupid bitch”, and Sabrina agrees and goes home…
…but not before hiccuping again and causing flowers to grow…
…and making a submarine appear on the football field during practice, which occurs early in the school day…and consists of two players and no one else.
Harvey tells his buddy, Spencer, that they’ve been “practicing too hard”, and Sabrina lobes the submarine away.
Sabrina hiccups and turns the football players into cheerleaders, because cross-dressing is funny.
Salem and Sabrina get the fuck out of there. Why didn’t she just immediately bamf them home?
Back home, the aunts can’t help Sabrina. Sabrina is depressed, but Hilda finds Sabrina’s hiccups produce “entertaining and colorful” special effects. Fuck you, you old twat.
Sabrina mopes and says being a teenage witch is terrible. Hilda tells her to shut the fuck up, because she “might be overheard”. By who? If she can’t talk about this in her own bedroom, where can she talk about it?
Lightning and thunder herald the arrival of Della, the Spellmans’ Head W
Bitch, who detected “a note of rebellion”. What? So Sabrina isn’t allowed to question the awesomeness of being a witch? This is actually quite the opposite of real Wicca and Witchcraft, which allows questioning and exploration, compared to, say, Christianity.
Hilda and Sabrina explain the sitch, and Della, fearing Sabrina being discovered, agrees. She also makes fun of them for their incompetence, and Ambrose comes the fuck out of nowhere and says they’re “working on it”. What about that potion from earlier that you accidentally gave to Grundy? Did you try that?
Hilda and Zelda search their untitled book (of shadows?) for an “old family cure for hiccups”, hoping such a thing exists. Sabrina apologizes to “Miss Della” for bothering her. It’s all cool with Della, because apprentice witches are her “prime interest”. She threatens them with unspecified “changes” if they don’t get their shit together, and then she leaves.
Sabrina hiccups and bamfs out of there.
Back at school, Betty and Veronica are glad that this fucked-up day is over.
Sabrina spies (I guess) on them (I guess). Why?
Spencer suggests to Harvey that they “head for Pop’s and have a blowout”. Wouldn’t that get Pop’s shut down by the health inspector? Seriously, though, it sounds like Spencer’s hoping Harvey’s car will break down. Anyway, Harvey agrees. Sabrina hiccups.
Somehow, Sabrina realizes this (a loud noise) cured her hiccups. Was this her intention? Hoping something would shock her? Also, why weren’t Sabrina’s hiccups cured while riding with Harvey earlier?
Back home, the other witches are astounded that “an ordinary, mortal remedy” cured Sabrina. Hilda tries to tout her magical abilities but isn’t convincing.
Sabrina patronizes Hilda.
Ambrose suddenly bamfs in (having not bamfed out earlier) and decides to “test” Sabrina’s remedy.
Sabrina reminds him that she’s already cured (this scene is so weird!), which disappoints him.
Anyway, Ambrose somehow shocked Hilda into getting the hiccups.
Doctor Ungawa comes out of another room. What was he doing in there?
He chases Hilda (who runs backwards for some reason) through the impossibly long room, which repeats the same stuff in the background, because the studio was too cheap to animate anything else.
“Oh, well, whatcha gonna do?”
The closing credits sequence is just a shortened repeat of the opening theme (albeit with new lyrics, so points for that) with the credits overlayed.
So this is a typical Sabrina episode from Filmation. I found it more enjoyable than the Archie segment, I guess, but the editing is weird, the insert shots lack background details, the characters are idiots, and the mortal kids seem to treat magic as nothing more than a curious oddity. Why is Sabrina so worried about protecting her secret? And it’s not like she or anyone else in her family go to great lengths to conceal it.
As with the Archie segments, these cartoons have a laugh track.
The cast is pretty decent in their roles. As far as characterization, I’m not too familiar with Sabrina’s supporting cast, but nothing seems off. Well, there is one thing: Sabrina sounds…sophisticated? I think that’s what they were going for. Not quite Southern, maybe, but there’s something there. Did any teens actually sound like this back then?
I guess I should address why Sabrina is living in Riverdale, since some of you might be wondering. While it’s true that more recent comics have Sabrina living in the neighboring town of Greendale (“Afterlife With Archie” actually has Greendale bordering Riverdale), the early comics did indeed have Sabrina living in Riverdale and attending Riverdale High School with Archie and the gang (in fact, Archie and Betty make cameos in Sabrina’s first comic story). I don’t know why the comics decided to move her; having everyone live in Riverdale would make crossovers easier.
Anyway, that’s it for our look at the Filmation series. It was responsible for the creation of The Archies, which Archie Comics introduced into the comics, so it’s important for that, I guess, but little else.
Tune in next Wednesday, when we’ll look at some hot pussy.