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It seems you can’t keep a good witch down. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, the sitcom that premiered on ABC more than two decades ago, sees a return Oct. 26 on Netflix with the scary Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, starring Kiernan Shipka.
The 1996 Sabrina was played by Melissa Joan Hart, who The Hollywood Reporter said “exudes a winning combination of self-confidence and reticence.” (Dedicated Sabrina fans remember that a dyed-blond Ryan Reynolds, then 19, played Seth, the young witch’s boyfriend, in the Showtime movie that was the show’s de facto pilot.) The idea behind Sabrina, based on an Archie Comics character, was a high school student learning she’s a witch on her 16th birthday. She also learns that she needs to be careful about the sorcery thing when she accidentally turns the snobby, most popular girl in school into a pineapple.
“To me, the engine of the show was: You don’t fit in until you accept the fact that you’re different and everybody else is too,” says Jonathan Schmock, who developed the series. “Some people have an accent, some are really tall, and some can turn the principal into a frog.”
The show’s light humor brought in 17 million viewers in its debut en route to a four-year broadcast network run. “ABC gave us our start but then forgot about us,” Hart told THR in 2000. “They didn’t promote us the last two seasons.”
The show then moved to The WB for three years. “Every generation gets the Sabrina it deserves,” says original series creator Nell Scovell. “We did comedy in the ’90s, and it makes sense to do horror today. There’s a lot more anxiety now.”
This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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Robert De Niro