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September 26, 1997

SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH

The Hollywood Reporter

(ABC) 8 tonight

The convoluted plot of this opening episode doesn't disguise the charm of its star, Melissa Joan Hart, or strength of the show's premise.

Miriam Trogdon's lackluster script has Sabrina's arrogance and disorganization leading her to neglect her personal obligations and her witch studies. As a result, she disappoints the people around her and ends up in Witch Boot Camp, where she will learn basic responsibility. The show would be even more interesting if Sabrina's witchcraft were used for something besides solving fashion emergencies.

The cast makes the show work. Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick surround Hart with companionship that is engaging and fun. The high school scenes are somewhat less effective because many of the characters are arch and artificial, particularly those who are at odds with Sabrina.

The production values are adequate. The at-home sets work well, but those at the school are unconvincing and the number of extras drops below an effective minimum.

Joan Van Tassel

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