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Here we are at the seventh, and final, season of the Melissa Joan Hart series, Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Our fair Sabrina has left college and has now joined the workforce as a journalist for Scorch magazine. The first episode of the season, "Total Sabrina Live", provides the conclusion to the Season 6 finale ("I Fall To Pieces"); but with no "previously on" segment to explain what's happened before, it doesn't make any sense to new viewers.
Even though I've seen most of the episodes over the years, originally on ABC & The WB and in syndication, this is the first of the Sabrina season sets that I've purchased (not counting all of the animated series DVDs). Even though I like the series, it is not a show that I feel compelled to buy on DVD. However, the inclusion of the "Sabrina Goes To Rome" TV movie from 1998 is what enticed me to purchase this set. Sadly, I'm highly disappointed by how many of the episodes are edited. Here, take a look at the episode list with runtimes, and see if you can figure which episodes are edited.
01. Total Sabrina Live (September 20, 2002) (21:39)
02. The Big Head (September 27, 2002) (22:08)
03. Call Me Crazy (October 4, 2002) (21:13)
04. Shift Happens (October 11, 2002) (22:08)
05. Free Sabrina (October 18, 2002) (22:07)
06. Sabrina Unplugged (November 1, 2002) (22:05) [Scooby-Doo & Shaggy appearance retained]
07. Witch Way Out (November 8, 2002) (20:45)
08. Bada-Ping (November 15, 2002) (21:23)
09. It's A Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Christmas (December 6, 2002) (21:58)
10. Ping, Ping A Song (January 10, 2003) (21:50)
11. The Lyin', The Witch And The Wardrobe (January 17, 2003) (21:08)
12. In Sabrina We Trust (January 24, 2003) (22:08)
13. Sabrina In Wonderland (January 31, 2003) (22:08)
14. Present Perfect (February 7, 2003) (22:08)
15. Cirque Du Sabrina (February 14, 2003) (22:08)
16. Getting To Nose You (February 21, 2003) (21:22)
17. Romance Looming (February 27, 2003) (22:08)
18. Spellmanian Slip (March 20, 2003) (22:08)
19. You Slay Me (March 27, 2003) (22:05)
20. Fish Tale (April 17, 2003) (22:07)
21&22. What A Witch Wants / Soul Mates (April 24, 2003) (44:00)
BONUS. Sabrina Goes To Rome (October 4, 1998) (TV Movie) (1:26:49)
If you didn't figure it out, I think it's safe to say that any episodes under 22 minutes in length are edited, except for maybe the Christmas episode since it's only 2 seconds under. That's 7 out of 22 episodes (excluding the Christmas episode). I don't know if the previous season sets were this highly edited, but I think that it's shameful for Paramount to charge full price for a set that has one-third of its episodic content edited - and possible more with music replaced. Granted, Paramount at least makes note of this on the back of the case - "Some episodes may be edited from their original network versions" and "Music has been changed for this home entertainment version" - but that's the same standard text they put on the cases for all of their TV series releases, whether it's actually true or not.
As I only have two or three episodes from this season (and the Sabrina Goes To Rome TV movie) on tape, I can't do a complete analysis of the edits - though once I find my tapes I'll do side-by-side comparisons of these few episodes and update this review. However, most of what I'm about to tell you is based on a quick check of the disc contents and what I remember from watching this stuff on TV 7-8 years ago.
* Witch Way Out - VERY heavily edited, as noted by the runtime. About 1 minute 20 seconds removed, including a performance by The Goo Goo Dolls (at 8:47 and 10:55?). The group is referenced in what little remains of the episode, and some comments make no sense now that the performance has been removed.
* Bada-Ping - It seems that an Avril Lavigne performance was cut out at 2:25.
* Getting To Nose You - It seems that a Sixpence None The Richer performance was cut out, and the music replaced in the background of the fight scene.
* Soul Mates - From what multiple sources tell me, at the very end when Sabrina runs out of her wedding to meet Harvey, originally "Running" by No Doubt was playing in the background. That song has been replaced by either a different song, or a different artist performing the song. I'll have to find my tape of the original The WB broadcast to give a conclusive analysis, but multiple sources can't be wrong.
You know, considering this was the season that Sabrina worked at MUSIC MAGAZINE, with many appearances by musical artists performing their hits, the series producers should have made darn sure that they got home video rights to the songs. TV shows getting released on DVD wasn't an entirely unknown phenomenon back in 2002-2003.
I am happy to report that, based on a quick check, the Sabrina Goes To Rome TV movie does not appear to be edited or have any instances of music replacements. The pop song "Crush" by Jennifer Paige remains at 40:29 (if music were to be replaced, I'm sure that would have been the first to go), the runtime matches the length I wrote on the label of my original ABC recording, and the music played at the beginning and end are what I remember it being. Of course, I'll still do a side-by-side comparison with the original ABC broadcast at a later date and update this review as necessary.
I am disappointed that Paramount didn't include the 1999 TV movie Sabrina Down Under as a second bonus feature, as I don't see it very likely that Paramount will put it out on DVD at a later date. There are no more seasons of the TV series in which to bundle it, and if they were going to put it out by itself, they would have done so already. I mean, the logical thing to do would have been to put out both TV movies - Rome & Down Under - in one "double feature" set. Instead of doing that, they chose to put Rome in this final season set. So where does that leave Down Under?
Before I conclude this review, I'd like to bring two things to the attention of the purists out there. (1) The Viacom logo at the end has been replaced with a new CBS Television Distribution logo on all episodes and the TV movie. (2) Even though the last two episodes were originally broadcast on The WB as one hour-long episode, they were produced as and meant to be shown as two separate episodes, and should have been included that way on this DVD set (which is how they're currently shown in syndication). I believe that the wishes of the filmmakers takes precedence over how they were originally broadcast.
All in all, it's an okay set. The last season certainly isn't as good as the first three - the series lost its charm when the gorgeous Jenna Leigh Green left the show and Sabrina left high school - but it's not as bad as the stuff on TV these days.