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April 4, 1996


Hunter Garcia
The Hollywood Reporter

(Showtime) 6:30 p.m.

Sunday Based on a character from Archie Comics, Melissa Joan Hart (Nickelodeon's ''Clarisssa'') stars as Sabrina, a high school girl who discovers that she is a witch with inherited magical powers.

Sabrina lives with her two eccentric aunts and their black cat, Selma.

On her 16th birthday, Sabrina is given a package from her world-traveling parents, with instructions to open only under the full moon.

The contents: a book that reveals her witch status.

With help from her aunts and Selma the cat, who she now understands can actually talk, Sabrina adjusts to her new powers.

Unfortunately, she chooses to experiment with her magic to help her compete with a snooty popular girl (Lalainia Lindbjerg) for the attention of popular hunky jock Seth (Ryan Reynolds).

In the process, she alienates her best friend Marnie (Michelle Beaudoin), and risks losing the secret love held for her by her sensitive guy pal, Harvey (Tobias Mehler).

Scripted by Barney Cohen, Kathryn Wallack, and Nicholas Factor, the teleplay is part of ''Showtime's Original Pictures for Kids'' and will spin off as an ABC series this fall, also starring Hart.

Because the setting is high school, the movie may miss its intended target audience of kids.

On the basis of the film's script, the show falls far short of its potential to be a cross between ''Bewitched'' and ''Beverly Hills, 90210.'' R.

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