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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27, 1996

And just like that we've arrived at the final Tuesday Timeline for September 2016.  But fear not, I guarantee you that this one will be magical.

This will be your only clue for now.  Ponder on that while I list off some of the other historical happenings for September 27.

1590 - Pope Urban VII dies thirteen days after being chosen as Pope, making his reign the shortest papacy of all time

1669 - The Siege of Candia ends after twenty-one years

1777 - Lancaster, Pennsylvania becomes the capital of the United States - for one whole day

1822 - Jean-Francois Champollion announces that he has deciphered the Rosetta Stone

1905 - The equation E=mc^2 is first introduced in the publishing of Albert Einstein's paper "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"

1908 - The first production of the Ford Model T was built in Detroit, Michigan

1919 - Actress Jayne Meadows (d. 2015) is born in Wuchang, China

1920 - Actor William Conrad (d. 1994) is born in Louisville, Kentucky

1930 - Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur Championship, which allows him to complete the Grand Slam of golf

1936 - "Soul Train" producer Don Cornelius (d. 2012) is born in Bronzeville, Chicago, Illinois

1940 - The Tripartite Pact is signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan in Berlin

1954 - "Tonight Starring Steve Allen" debuts on NBC - the show would later come to be known as "The Tonight Show", whose subsequent hosts would include Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon

1956 - USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt dies shortly after exceeding Mach 3 in the Bell X-2 craft when the craft goes out of control

1959 - Typhoon Vera strikes Japan, killing five thousand people

1961 - Sierra Leone joins the United Nations

1965 - Silent film star Clara Bow passes away at the age of 60

1968 - "Hair" opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London and would host nearly 2,000 performances over the next five years

2000 - The first Olympic medal for tae kwon do was won by Michail Mourutsos during the Sydney Games

2001 - Fourteen people are killed and four more injured when a man goes on a shooting rampage in Zug, Switzerland; the gunman would later take his own life

2008 - P!nk's "So What" reaches #1 on the Billboard Charts

2015 - The television series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" airs its final episode after a fifteen year run on CBS

And here is a list of celebrity birthdays for September 27.  Birthday greetings go out to Wilford Brimley, Al MacNeil, Kathy Whitworth, Randy Bachman, Barbara Dickson, Meat Loaf, Tom Braidwood, Graham Richardson, Peter Sellars, Shaun Cassidy, Marc Maron, Stephan Jenkins, Steve Kerr, Alexis Stewart, Don Jamieson, Tamara Taylor, Clara Hughes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carrie Brownstein, Sophie Crumb, Lil Wayne, Ella Scott Lynch, Avril Lavigne, and Austin Carlile.

I also want to wish my niece, Asia, a happy 20th birthday today!  

And while she is NOT the subject of today's blog, her birthday happens to be today's Tuesday Timeline date.  September 27, 1996.

But what in the world happened on September 27, 1996 in pop culture?  Well, at the time, I was fifteen years old so I do remember that day well.  Aside from the birth of my niece, there was something else that I was looking forward to. 

It was the debut of a television show that as I mentioned before was quite magical in a way.  And considering that Halloween is coming up next month, I figure that now is a good time to bring up the fact that this television show was filled with magic and witchcraft, and its storylines often left the viewers feeling spellbound.

It's a television show that was based on a comic book character that debuted in Archie Comics in 1962, and while this character once had her own cartoon show in the 1960s and 1970s, this television series was the first time that the character had been seen in live action - well, aside from the introductory made for television film that aired earlier in 1996.

Yes, it was twenty years ago today that "Sabrina: The Teenage Witch" debuted on ABC!  Twenty years!  My goodness, I feel old just thinking about it!

And, yes...I will definitely admit to watching this show - well, at least for the first couple of seasons anyway.  What was interesting about this show's run was that it ended up running for seven seasons total - but on two different networks.  From 1996-2000, the show was part of ABC's TGIF line-up, but beginning in 2000, the show switched to the WB Network for the remainder of its run.  The final episode of the series aired on April 24, 2003.

Mind you, by April 2003, Sabrina wasn't a teenager any longer.  Neither was Melissa Joan Hart who played the role of Sabrina (she was 20 when the show began).  But yet somehow, I think that Melissa Joan Hart was a good choice for the role.  After all, the Sabrina comic book series (at least the one that was illustrated by Dan DeCarlo) showed Sabrina as being a positive, caring, happy-go-lucky character.  And certainly Melissa was capable of playing such a role.  Heck, she was the star of "Clarissa Explains It All" way back in the mid-1990s!

And I have to say that for the most part, the show stuck with the formula that worked in the comic book series.  Rather than having Sabrina living in Riverdale with Archie, Betty, and Veronica, she lived in the fictional community of Westbridge, Massachusetts.  And the reason for why she has magical powers is because her father's side of the family come from a long line of witches and warlocks, dating back to the Salem Witch Trials period. 

Sabrina discovers her magical powers on the morning of her sixteenth birthday when she finds herself levitating over her bed.  And after talking with her two aunts, Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick), she comes to accept the fact that she can now cast spells.  She also comes to learn that the family pet, a cat named Salem (Nick Bakay) can talk.  In reality, Salem was once a powerful warlock who had a spell put on him that transformed him into a cat because his power got the better of him.

TRIVIA:  Beginning in 1996, all Sabrina comics that featured Salem changed his colour from orange to black to fit the television show better.

Of course, Sabrina had more to worry about than trying to control her powers - the first three seasons of this show clearly showed that she COULDN'T.  She also had to balance her witch life from her normal life, and when you're a high school student, that's not exactly easy to do.  It's especially hard when you're falling in love with your crush, Harvey Kinkle (Nate Richert), but you're competing against Libby Chessler (Jenna Leigh Green) for his attention, that's definitely not a good feeling.

And certainly on Sabrina's first day of knowing that she's a witch, she never expected to get so angry with Libby that she accidentally transforms her into a pineapple in front of the whole school!  Fortunately, Hilda and Zelda come up with a plan to restore Libby back to normal while never revealing Sabrina's secret.  It's quite complicated to explain, but the pilot episode is where it all happened.

Now, over the course of the show, characters came and went.  Melissa Joan Hart and Nick Bakay were the only ones to stay for the whole series.  Caroline Rhea left the series to host her own talk show, with Beth Broderick following suit.  Nate Richert came and went.  And new cast members joined the show at various points including Martin Mull (Mr. Kraft), Soleil Moon Frye (Roxy), Elisa Donovan (Morgan), David Lascher (Josh), and Dylan Neal (Aaron).  And when the show switched from ABC to the WB, it was also a turning point for Sabrina as she left high school and started attending college.  But, that's really all I can say as I haven't seen too many episodes of the last three seasons of the show.  You had to pay the cable company extra to get the WB, and it just wasn't worth the money.  Which I suppose is why the WB is now known as the CW.

I have to say that overall the show did stay true to the comics - well, the first few years anyway.  And while the show was never really destined to win any Emmy Awards, you do have to admit that it was a show that could appeal to all audiences with its family friendly storylines and magical whimsy.  Consider it a 1990s version of "Bewitched" if you will...only Sabrina never had to wiggle her nose to cast a spell.

Besides, the television show launched a comic book reboot, a series of youth novels, a cartoon series, and even a few video games!  And at the time it was airing on TGIF, it was the highest rated series in the block - and this was during a time in which "Boy Meets World", "Family Matters" and "The Hughleys" were airing alongside the show.  That's quite impressive, no matter what your feelings were about the show.

Personally, I liked it a lot.  But then again, I like almost anything associated with Archie Comics.  I wonder if the "Riverdale" series that is set to air on the CW in early 2017 will have the same success as Sabrina did, given that it seems to be wanting to go after a completely different audience.  Who knows, really?

But two decades ago today, Sabrina was the belle of the witch ball!

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