Sabrina: The Animated Series is an American animated television series based on the Archie Comics series Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Produced by Savage Studios Ltd. and Hartbreak Films in association with DIC Productions, L.P. (owned by Disney at the time), the series is an animated spin-off of the 1996–2003 live-action series Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
The series aired on ABC (also owned by Disney) and UPN from September 6 to November 19, 1999. 65 episodes were produced.
Unlike previous incarnations, Sabrina Spellman in this series is depicted as a 12-year-old attending middle school. As in the original comic series, Sabrina lives with her paternal witch aunts, Hilda Spellman and Zelda Spellman and her loud-mouthed black cat Salem Saberhagen, all of whom advise Sabrina on the use of several magics. Most episodes center on the typical issues of middle school, along with those that emanated from Sabrina's inexperience with or misuse of several magic, witchcraft and extremely powerful and complex spells. Sabrina and her best friend Chloe would often use magic (often from the "Spooky Jar"; a cookie jar containing a genie-like being in the family's kitchen) for all types of perceived emergencies, ranging from trying to fit into skinny new clothes to turning Sabrina's crush Harvey into a superhero. By the end of each episode, her innate magical abilities would unintentionally backfire and Sabrina would learn that using magic usually is not the solution to her everyday issues.
Sabrina had previously appeared in an animated format on The Archie Show (animated by Filmation), but the popularity of the live-action Sabrina the Teenage Witch sitcom formed part of the basis for this spin-off series. The series was developed by Savage Steve Holland and Kat Likkel and Holland served as showrunner and executive producer of the series. As such, the series reflected some of the irreverent style of humor seen in Eek! The Cat. Celebrity voice cameos in this series included Mr. T, Long John Baldry and "Weird Al" Yankovic. Melissa Joan Hart, who starred as Sabrina in the live-action sitcom, served as producer of this series, but her younger sister, Emily Hart (who played the recurring character Amanda on the sitcom), voiced Sabrina. Melissa instead voiced Sabrina's two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, originally played on the live-action series by Beth Broderick and Caroline Rhea, respectively. Nick Bakay reprises his role as Salem from the live-action series. The theme music is performed by the Irish girl group B*Witched.
The series was announced to be in production in November 1998, where 65 episodes were commissioned by Disney to air on UPN's then-upcoming Disney block, and would also air on ABC. Disney's Buena Vista Television were announced as the distributor, while DIC Entertainment and Viacom Consumer Products would handle and share merchandising rights. In January 1999, Disney's international sales distributor Buena Vista International Television were confirmed as worldwide distributor of the series.
The series aired in syndication on UPN (on Disney's One Too weekday morning-afternoon and Sunday block) and on ABC (on Disney's One Saturday Morning block) from September 6 to November 19, 1999; it remained on both blocks until 2002, when the series moved to both Disney Channel (from September 3, 2002 to September 2, 2004) and Toon Disney (from September 3, 2002 to September 5, 2004). Sabrina: The Animated Series was one of the launch programmes broadcast on the Syndicated DIC Kids Network E/I block, followed by the spinoff series Sabrina's Secret Life.
In the 2006-07 television season, the series returned as part of CBS' new KOL Secret Slumber Party on CBS and was briefly part of the KEWLopolis cartoon lineup. On September 19, 2009, the series returned to CBS, this time as part of the network's Cookie Jar TV cartoon lineup, until 2010, being replaced with Sabrina's Secret Life. Reruns aired on This TV through the "This Is for Kids" block, from September 24, 2012, to October 25, 2013.
From 2017 to 2020, reruns of the series started airing on the Starz channel, Starz Kids & Family; the series is also available on Starz Play. As of 2022 the series is also available on Pluto TV's After School Cartoons channel.
In Canada, the series aired on Teletoon from late-1999 to mid-2005. The series also aired on many Disney Channel networks internationally.
Beginning in 2004, many broadcasters who already aired the series began to air it as part of a package with Sabrina's Secret Life titled "Totally Sabrina." The package was pre-sold to TF1 in France, RTÉ in Ireland, Mediaset in Italy, ORF in Austria, Alter Channel in Greece, FORTA in Spain, SBT in Brazil, Teletoon in Canada, Super RTL in Germany, Noga Communications in Israel and Saran in Turkey, in addition to Disney Channel and Toon Disney networks in the United Kingdom, Asia, Taiwan, Australia, France, Latin America, Brazil, the Middle East and Spain.
The series also aired in India on Cartoon Network.
In February 2001, DIC announced the formation of their home video subsidiary DIC Home Entertainment, and that Sabrina: The Animated Series would be one of the shows from their catalogue released through the division.
In the Philippines, Viva Video and Cookie Jar Entertainment released a few DVD sets in the countries.
In the United Kingdom, budget distributor Prism Leisure and Fremantle Home Entertainment released "Sabrina in Love" and "Salem's World" on DVD which had the same 2 episodes as the US VHS releases respectively, but including an additional episode. An exclusive UK DVD titled "Witchy Girls" was also released in the same year, also containing 3 episodes.
Common Sense Media gave the series a three out of five stars and said, "Parents need to know that this tween cartoon -- a spin-off of the live-action sitcom Sabrina, the Teenage Witch -- features similar lighthearted witch humor. Storylines focus on the trials and tribulations of being a tween: friendships, school assignments, and dealing with increasing responsibility. Many of the characters set positive examples of what it means to be a good friend."
Viacom Consumer Products and DIC Entertainment co-released merchandise based on the series.
An 11-inch Sabrina fashion doll was released by the company Bambola. Several other small plastic toys, including a few figurines and a Polly Pocket-esque Sabrina doll were sold in stores while the series was in production.
On August 17, 2000, Simon & Schuster Interactive's Knowledge Adventure and Havas Interactive officially announced the video game Sabrina The Animated Series: Magical Adventure for the Microsoft Windows and Macintosh computer systems. It was released in October 2000, and followed by Sabrina The Animated Series: Zapped! for the Game Boy Color system, released on November 22, 2000,
On September 4, 2001, it was announced that Simon & Schuster Interactive had acquired the rights to the series, under license from Viacom Consumer Products based on the video game license. They subsequently released Sabrina The Animated Series: Spooked! (which contains the first levels for Game Boy Color platform). It was released on November 6, 2001.
In November 2000, following their separation and re-independence from Disney, DIC Entertainment announced they would produce a spin-off based on Salem the Cat, simply titled Salem. The series was planned to have 52 half-hour episodes, each budgeted at $275,000 to $325,000, and would air in the Fall of 2001, with DIC holding all worldwide distribution rights. The series never saw the light the day after its initial announcement, meaning it likely never got off the drawing board.
The series would have focused on Salem's attempts to become a warlock again by proceeding to do enough good deeds, but lets his attitude and wit get the better of him.
A TV movie, titled Sabrina: Friends Forever aired on Nickelodeon in the United States on October 13, 2002, as part of the Nickelodeon Sunday Movie Toons series of television movies. The movie was later pre-sold internationally to various Disney Channel networks, among others.
The movie centers on Sabrina going to Witch Academy to become full witch, but is unsure if she will be accepted due to being half-witch, until she meets Nicole, a girl who is also half-witch like she is.
A sequel series, titled Sabrina's Secret Life was co-produced with DIC's French subsidiary Les Studios Tex and broadcaster TF1, and premiered on DIC's syndicated television block DIC Kids Network in November 2003 before being pre-sold internationally.
The series centers on a 14-year-old Sabrina attending High School and also attending special witch classes with rival Cassandra, who unlike Sabrina, is a full-witch.
While Sabrina: The Animated Series was airing, Archie Comics printed a comic spin-off for the show. The first issue was dated January 2000 (meaning it was on-sale in late 1999), and it lasted for 37 issues. In order to tie the plot in with their Sabrina series, it was stated in the first issue that Repulsa the Goblin Gueen had sent Sabrina back in time to relive her pre-teen years, so that she would be out of the way while Repulsa attempted to conquer Enchantra's realm. In issue 38, the Repulsa plot was resolved, and the comic book returned to chronicling the teenage Sabrina in the next issue.
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