Sabrina Animated Special Puts The Wit In Witchmas

Happy December fellow Christmas special fans! If you’re anything like me, you’ve started to get out your decorations and other holiday accoutrements. For me, those holiday belongings include a storage container FILLED with Christmas specials on VHS and DVD, which I sort through and arrange in piles like “must watch”, “not yet watched”, and “watch if you have time” To start things off this year, I decided to go with one in my “not yet watched” pile, the Sabrina the Animated Series episode “A Witchmas Carol”, one that I only picked up rather recently actually. I’ve been really into Archie comics and the whole Archie universe since I last updated this blog, and since Sabrina is from that universe, I figured I may get a kick out of the special, even if it was not too great. Luckily for me, the special is actually pretty fun! Wanna know how fun? Keep reading and I’ll fill you in!

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The special starts at school, where Sabrina is talking with her best friends Chloe and Harvey about Chloe’s upcoming Christmas party. After Chloe reveals how her father plans on embarrassing her that year, the group walks into the gym to see the richest, most popular girl at the school, Gem Stone, assigning all of the students mandatory presents they need to buy her. Seeing how Gem is treating the other students so poorly makes Sabrina furious, so she and her friends head to the mall to cool off.

Once at the mall, the gang sees Gem get dropped off by her parents to go shopping, and notice that Gem is given a large pile of money that she is meant to donate to the poor. Rather than actually do that, Gem uses all of the money on a makeover. Sabrina is even more upset than she was at Gem earlier, and after a brief scene the next day at school where Gem mocks the less fortunate, Sabrina decides she has to do something to teach Gem a lesson. While trying to figure out a plan, a commercial comes on for a sock puppet version of A Christmas Carol, which is called….

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-50-03-pmThis is one of the first jokes in the episode that is actually pretty funny and makes fun of traditional Christmas specials and how hokey they can be. Sabrina decides that with the help of her aunts and her cat Salem she can teach Gem a Christmas lesson just like Scrooge.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-52-29-pmAfter selecting which spirit they’ll each portray, Sabrina and her family head over to Gem’s house to set things up for the evening of “hauntings”. While Gem is on her way to bed, Salem’s face replaces the knob on her door and tells her that tonight she’ll be visited by three ghosts. Gem rightly points out that since she is being visited by Salem, and then three other ghosts, he should’ve said she’d be visited by four ghosts, since he should count himself. While Salem tries to work through the logic himself, Gem heads to bed.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-53-14-pmThe first ghost, as is tradition with this story, is the ghost of Christmas Past, aka Aunt Hilda. She tells Gem that she her bad attitude towards Christmas can be traced back to her early childhood, so off they go to see what event put Gem on her selfish path.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-53-35-pmWe are brought back in time to the mall where we see a young Gem in line to meet Santa. The boy in line in front of her is being a big brat, asking Santa for a rather long list of presents, and taking a long time to do so. When Santa suggests that maybe the little boy move along so other kids can have a turn, the boy starts to have a tantrum. When offering him a candy cane doesn’t stop the boy from crying, Santa and his elves lose their nerve and just give the little boy all of the candy to shut him up and make him leave. Gem realizes that all she has to do is act like a brat and people will throw presents at her to make her quiet, so she starts to do just that. We see her that Christmas morning acting like a little terror and getting a pile of presents and acting like a brat about it to get even more presents. When Hilda points out how awful Gem was, Gem agrees, but rather than admit that she was a brat of a kid, she says she was awful because she opened all of her toys, and if she’d only kept them in their boxes they’d be worth a lot of money! Realizing Gem isn’t likely to see the error of her ways in the past, Hilda brings her back to the present and gets her ready for the next ghost.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-55-05-pmUp next is Aunt Zelda as the ghost of Christmas Present, who plans to show Gem what everyone else is currently up to on Christmas Eve without her. The visit starts with a tour of Gem’s own house, where we see that Gem’s nanny is alone in her room watching…

specialGem mentions that nanny loves this show anyways, so it’s not a bad thing that she’s watching it all by herself. Then we see Gem’s parents, who hop in the car and leave for the airport so they can celebrate Christmas on vacation without Gem there to ruin it. Gem still misses the point, having no reaction to this at all, so Zelda takes her go to visit Chloe’s Christmas party.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-9-59-44-pmGem sees that a lot of kids from her class are there and are having a great time without her, and are even mocking her and having fun doing so! Rather than be bothered, Gem says it just means they must really care about her to be thinking about her on Christmas Eve. Zelda reaches the same conclusion as Hilda and decides to just bring Gem back to get ready for the final ghost of the evening.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-00-05-pmSabrina gets herself ready with her scary cloak and scythe to be the Ghost of Christmas Future, but while trying to scare Gem she trips on her outfit and accidentally reveals that she is the one under the cloak. At first Gem doesn’t wanna hear any of it, but after she convinces herself this is all just a dream anyways, she may as well go along for the ride. Sabrina shows Gem that she is a successful business woman in the future, but at the cost of all of her personal relationships with friends and family. Gem is just impressed that she has made a lot of money and influence, and doesn’t care that no one likes her. Sabrina figures that maybe a trip further in the future might open Gem’s eyes.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-00-51-pmThey go far enough into the future to go to Gem’s final resting place, a cryogenic chamber in a huge crypt. While Gem is impressed that her crypt is so fancy and impressive, Sabrina points out that not a single person has come to pay their respects, but again, Gem doesn’t care because she obviously died rich, and that’s all that matters to her. Sabrina is dumbfounded that Gem hasn’t learned her lesson at all, and heads home all upset. While she is venting about the situation, her Uncle Quigley points out that Sabrina was being selfish herself in trying to make Gem feel bad about herself, not necessarily teach Gem a lesson for the benefit of everyone else. Sabrina realizes her uncle is right, and that she should visit Gem to make peace.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-01-15-pmSabrina goes out early on Christmas morning and brings a present to Gem, who is shocked to be getting one from Sabrina since she wasn’t assigned one. She laughs it off and goes inside to tear open the box, and see that Sabrina actually got her a really beautiful locket. She realizes that this is the first time in years someone has bought her a present because they wanted to, not because they had to. She is actually moved by the nice gesture, and starts to cry.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-10-01-38-pmThe last scene is Sabrina and her family getting ready for her friends to come sing carols, when surprise surprise, Gem shows up. She has brought a huge load of presents she had “laying around” for Sabrina and her friends. Gem is planning on just leaving them and taking off, when Sabrina invites her in for cider and carols. Gem actually decides to stay, and everyone sings carols to round out the episode.

So, this episode fits into the trope of being a version of A Christmas Carol, which is one of the more popular themes for Christmas specials. This was actually a pretty clever take on the traditional version of this story, because while I’ve seen quite a few variations on this theme, this one had a lot of fun mocking and pointing out some of the outdated or silly flaws with the story. The characters actually had a lot of fun and clever lines that may go over the heads of kids watching it, but parents watching along with the young ones will have a good laugh. That being said, this is still clearly a show for children that has a lot of physical gags and cartoony elements, so the kids will have a fun time taking this one in as well.

I have to say, I really wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this special, but I was really surprised at the fun, sarcastic, and satirical elements of this episode. Fans of Archie comics and/or the live action Sabrina the Teenage Witch show will definitely have the best time watching this, but casual viewers will have a pretty fun time watching this episode too. You really don’t need to know much about the characters or the show going into the episode, and it doesn’t appear to be an episode that in any way changes the plot of the show going forward. I highly recommend this episode to viewers looking for a fun take on A Christmas Carol, I think you’ll be surprised at this magical take on an old classic!

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