Flicking Through Netflix: Sabrina the Animated Series (Episode 1: Shrink to Fit)

Before we begin, let me just say that, although I know this isn’t the pilot episode of the series, it is the first episode listed on Netflix.  As such, I just decided to watch it first.  On that note, let us begin.

When I was growing up, I watched a lot of the sitcoms of the 90s.  One of these sitcoms was Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  I remember liking it alright, even if some of the jokes were lame and the Salem the Cat puppet was atrociously obvious.  Still, Sabrina was pretty popular back in the day.  Popular enough that she got a spin-off of sorts in the form of today’s subject.  This is Sabrina the Animated Series.

The first episode (at least, the first one listed on Netflix) revolves around the concept of “self-image.” Sabrina and her friend Chloe want to fit into Waif Moth jeans, the latest fashion trends.  However, the only size the jeans come in is far too small on them. So, as with everything Sabrina does, they use magic to make their lives easier and instantly lose a few pounds.  It works great, until they find they keep shrinking smaller and smaller.

I do remember watching this particular show when I was younger.  However, as I was trying to pick what to watch for today’s article, I could not remember a thing about it.  I can now tell you that there is a reason for my lack of memory.  This show is incredibly forgettable.  And it all starts with the writing.

Part of my problem with the writing is that I’m obviously not this show’s core demographic.  This show is for the middle-grade crowd, the 9-to-12-year-olds who are still trying to figure out who they are as people.  As a result, the characters are all pretty generic.  Sabrina’s the generic main one, Chloe’s the generic “with attitude” one, Harvey’s the generic weird one, all the stereotypes are here.  All the jokes play it safe and have either predictable or stupid punchlines with Salem the cat getting some particular groaners.  There was also a very oddly placed reference to Monty Python which seemed bizarrely misplaced and would have definitely gone way over the heads of the young viewers of the day.

If there’s one bit of praise I will give this show is that it’s really competently animated.  The show has a good style, reminding me a lot of the original Archie type comics that this world sprang from.  The slapstick bits are appropriately rubbery and the magical elements, when they happen, are very “zappy” and flashy, very catching to the eye.  I’m a sucker for good magic animation and this show definitely has that.

The biggest complaint I have about this show is that it’s just kind of bland and inoffensive. The jokes pretty much play it safe.  The characters don’t really feel that fleshed out.  Even the “bully,” Gem, just kinda seems half-assed.  She’s not as much of a total bitch as the writers intended for her to be.  I wanted for there to be a bit more of the characters rather than their roles as friends.  But I guess that’s a bit too much to expect from a measly 22 minutes.

I can’t recommend this show.  I didn’t really enjoy too much about it.  The characters are bland, the writing isn’t great.  Plainly put, this is forgettable.  Even though I praised the animation, it’s still nothing too spectacular.  This show truly is forgettable, almost to the point that I’ve forgotten half of it as I wrote about it.  In fact… what was I talking about again?

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