Sabrina the Teenage Witch, otherwise known as The Sabrina Comedy Hour or The Sabrina Comedy Show to differentiate it with other Sabrina-related cartoons and live-action series, is a cartoon series produced by Filmation and aired on CBS from 1970 to 1974. The show serves as a spin-off to the popular 1970s cartoon The Archie Comedy Hour and has aired along with a new series called Groovie Goolies. To know more about the show and its mysterious cast of characters, here is an introduction to Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Conceptualization and Production
Before the animated series in the 1970s was created, the Sabrina character has already appeared in various comic books connected to the Archie Comics franchise. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, whose real name is Sabrina Victoria Spellman, was created by artist Dan DeCarlo and writer George Gladir, and she first appeared in Archie’s Mad House #22, published in October 1962. Sabrina Spellman was supposed to only appear in a one-shot comic book, but because she became quite popular among Archie Comics readers, the duo who created her has decided to continue producing more stories involving the teenage witch.
When the duo was approached by Filmation in 1969, asking them to use the rights to Sabrina in order to produce an animated series about her, they were flabbergasted since they didn’t think that Sabrina would be so famous that she would have her own television show. Sabrina the Teenage Witch initially aired as a one hour show in 1969, but it eventually became a half-hour show after the Groovie Goolies were introduced. The cartoon’s target audience is young girls, as Filmation thought that the Archie show appealed more to boys.
As previously mentioned, the protagonist of the show is Sabrina Spellman, a teenager who has the power of witchcraft. According to her origins story, Sabrina is created by her aunts Zelda and Hilda, who intended to create a magic potion, but their creation failed and led to the birth of Sabrina. Throughout her childhood and teenage life, she lives with both Hilda and Zelda in a fictional town called Riverdale. This town is also the home of Archie and his friends Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. These popular Archie characters would also appear as cameos in Sabrina’s show.
Sabrina Spellman often uses her powers for good, although she utilizes her witchcraft secretly since humans are not allowed to know the witches’ existence in the world. While dealing with the burdens of being a witch, Sabrina also deals with the problems of teenage life, such as doing schoolwork and falling in love. The love interest of Sabrina in the show is Harvey Kinkle, who is mostly unaware of Sabrina being a witch.
Besides exploring Riverdale, Sabrina, along with her aunts, would also travel to a different dimension to talk to other beings or solve their problems. An interesting fact about the said dimension is that it was given different names in various iterations of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but the most popular names are the “Other Realm,” which was first used in the 1996 live-action sitcom, and the “Magic Realm” used in the 2000s Sabrina comics.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s first episode aired on September 13, 1969, as a segment to The Archie Comedy Hour. For each episode, there are two Sabrina segments that have different stories. The last two Sabrina segments for the first season aired on January 3, 1970.
On September 12, 1970, Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies’ first episode was aired. The show still featured two Sabrina segments, although, for this season, it is sandwiching one segment featuring the Groovie Goolies. The season lasted for 16 episodes, with the last one airing on December 26, 1970.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch would appear again in animated form on The New Archie and Sabrina Hour in 1977. In every episode, there will be one Archie segment, one Sabrina segment, and one segment where Archie and Sabrina will join forces to solve problems in Riverdale. Unfortunately, this show received low rating and viewer count, and after the final episode aired on December 3, 1977, the partnership between Filmation and Archie Comics ended.
Despite bringing popularity to the Sabrina character, the 1970s animated series pales in comparison to the 1996 live-action sitcom, which truly brought the teenage witch into the spotlight. In the live-action show produced by Viacom Productions, Sabrina Spellman is portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart, who went on to star in another popular sitcom Melissa & Joey. The live-action series was followed up with a reboot animated series in 1999. Titled “Sabrina: The Animated Series,” the titular teenage witch is voiced by Emily Hart, who is Melissa Joan Hart’s younger sister. Interestingly, while also being one of the producers, Melissa Joan Hart voiced Sabrina’s aunts Hilda and Zelda Spellman in the show.