Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996-2000): 1×03 “The True Adventures of Rudy Kazootie”

SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH (1996-2000) Logo Time

Episode: The True Adventures of Rudy Kazootie (1×03)
Director: Gail Mancuso
Teleplay: Carrie Honigblum & Renee Phillips
Cast: Melissa Joan Hart, Caroline Rhea, Beth Broderick, Nick Bakay, Nate Richert, Jenna Leigh Green, Michelle Beaudoin, Paul Fieg
Guest Stars: Randy Travis, Eddie Cibrian, Frank Conniff
Original Air Date: October 11, 1996

Cold Open

Sabrina arrives at home after school to find Hilda and Zelda are working on a jigsaw puzzle.  Hilda cracks wise about how jigsaws aren’t such a waste when you live 1000 years.  Sabrina tells them about her day and then laments the lack of…anything in the freezer. (Who didn’t go shopping? I bet it was Hilda). Hilda asks if she’s forgetting something. “Not supposed to be eating sweets before dinner,” Sabrina says dejectedly.  Hilda corrects her that “No. We’re witches!” and zaps some ice cream into the fridge, all with labels conveniently turned around.  Zelda magics the door closed and says “And you shouldn’t eat sweets before dinner!”

By itself, this picture wouldn't represent the show.

By itself, this picture wouldn’t represent the show.

Claudia: But, Jigsaw puzzles aren’t a waste of time, regardless of how long one lives!  They do slay time deader than Buffy could, though.

Geoffrey: I love a good jigsaw puzzle…I just never have space for one.

Credit Costume

Sabrina in a chicken mascot costume. “I’ve got to get better at this magic.”

Yes, yes you do.

Yes, yes you do.

Act One

Sabrina is pouring through her magic book looking for a spell to conjure rollerblades.  Salem suggests looking under Sporting Goods, but at first all she can find is Sporting Events.  However, that isn’t a complete failure because she learns how to change the outcome of a sporting event magically.  Happily she finds a way to make rollerblades…or rollerblahs.  Hilda shows up and tells her that she can’t get brand name because there are strict copyright laws, thanks to the 70s when all the witches went Gucci-mad.  Salem says you get better knock-offs from the Korean Witches.  Sabrina whines that it isn’t the brand, it’s that the kid on the box (wearing a sling) isn’t having any fun.  Hilda tells her there’s only one thing to do. Get a job.  She then grabs at Sabrina’s waist violently as the camera cuts to…

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Claudia: Ah, the 90s.  When rollerblades weren’t just A Thing.  They were The Thing.  Was it Tony Hawk (and his video games) who slayed this fad deader than Buffy?

Geoffrey: Is that going to be your thing for this episode?  Also, what’s with the awkwardly racist joke?

Claudia: No, it’s not going to be my thing for this episode!  And I think the joke would have gone wayyy over the target audience’s head.

Geoffrey: I was so lame in 4th grade, that I would put on The Wizard of Oz on Rollerblades almost daily…for weeks.

…school!  Sabrina is standing in front of a community bulletin board with another student looking for jobs.  They see one for a babysitter for triplets, which, according to the other student, has been there for years.  Sabrina then finds one for making money watching TV, and the other student swipes the notice first, telling her she has to be “more aggressive in this job market.”  Sabrina settles on a different babysitter job, which she swipes from another student with what I think is supposed to be a withering glare but really is more like a “I’m gonna stare at you with crazy eyes.”

Creeeepy

Creeeepy

Claudia: She kind of reminds me of Shar Jackson.  So yeah, “crazy eyes” is about right.

Sabrina calls the number to offer her services. She claims that she is the most responsible person ever, that she loves kids and even was one!  The Mother, who seems overworked and stressed hires her.  The bell rings and Sabrina has to leave the desperate for adult conversation Mother…telling her to watch MTV News (is that even still a thing?)

Claudia: I think MTV News is technically still a thing, but is mostly reserved for special reports on major national or music events (think September 11 or Michael Jackson’s death-major).  ‘Cause, gotta devote every available timeslot on the Music TeleVision network schedule to rednecks and Jersey Shore, amirite?

Geoffrey: Or that strange series of slasher movies based on My Super Sweet 16.

Claudia: Oh gosh, I forgot about those already… and it’s only been like 2 years.  That’s pop culture longevity for ya?

Geoffrey: They just don’t make things like they used too. I highly doubt that in 15 years we’ll see blogs about that show or Hard Times of RJ Berger.

Sabrina comes into Science Class late.  Mr. Pool is teaching them about mitosis, which is really the only thing he teaches all year long.  You’ll see what I mean in the season finale.  He calls Sabrina out on being late and asks her if she knows what mitosis is, which she doesn’t.  They manage to cover so much on mitosis that the test will be moved up to the next day.  Harvey complains that that will force him to miss game 4 of the World Series (that year it was Braves vs Yankees) and Mr. Pool tells him that he has to miss it as well, because of Parent-Teacher Night. “Vindictive, perhaps, but it’s what gets me through the day!”

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Claudia: So, Mr. Pool never moves on to teaching meiosis? 

Geoffrey: Nope. Or Photosynthesis.

In the hallway, Harvey asks Sabrina if she wants to study with him.  She accepts and invites him over to the house she’s babysitting at.

Zelda is dressed in a power suit and is trying to get Hilda to come downstairs for Parent Night.  Salem asks why he can’t go and Zelda tells him, quite simply that “Because, Salem, it’s weird enough that we’re two sisters who live alone together in an old Victorian house. If we show up with a cat, we cross the line into Looneyville.”  Hilda arrives also in a power suit, complaining that she has a fever, and whining about going and tries to make it snow to get out of it.  She fails.

Powersuits for everyone!

Powersuits for everyone!

Geoffrey: I love love love the aunts.  The End.

Sabrina arrives downstairs looking fancy, and tells them she wants to put on a good impression for the baby…oh, yeah, and Harvey will be there.  The aunts and Salem tease her before she leaves.

At the home for the people she will babysit for, the Mother is running around giving Sabrina as much last minute advice as possible, while the husband is trying to usher her out the door.  She tells Sabrina that his two favorite things are Goodnight, Moon and to be called “Rudy Kazootie” (or more formally, Mr. Kazootie).  They leave and shortly thereafter, Harvey arrives.  He comments on the mailbox (similar to his comment about Jenny’s in the pilot. Hey, continuity!).

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Harvey again laments about the  World Series and they attempt studying.  He says he’s hungry, so Sabrina goes to whip up some snacks, returning with Schnickers, N&Ns, Butterthumb and Popsi and Hey Over Here (instead of Yoo-Hoo!).

There's a really bad joke in there somewhere.

There’s a really bad joke in there somewhere.

They attempt again, but the baby begins crying, so Sabrina goes to check and Harvey turns the game on.  She half-ass reads Goodnight, Moon and leaves him again.  They attempt studying once again, but not before Harvey reveals that he wants to be a dentist, and that he likes Sabrina’s teeth.  The baby cries, again, and Sabrina goes to check and Harvey watches the game.  She picks him up, rubs his back and says “Be a big boy” three times.  Although he doesn’t really seem to calm down.  She leaves, but returns upon hearing a noise.  Magically, Rudy has become a fully grown man.

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Claudia: Of course there were no other 90s picture books except for Goodnight, Moon.  And If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  

Geoffrey: If you give 90s Nostlagia Reviewers a TV Show to review…

Commercial Break

Claudia may not have had one, but I had like a zillion (Also, this is a 2nd Generation one, us 1st Gen-ers had to deal with them dying on us at school).

Act Two

Sabrina is, appropriately, horrified.  She tries to magic him back, and has very little luck with it.  Harvey asks if Sabrina needs help, so to distract him, she uses the spell to throw a game and the World Series goes into extra innings.

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Geoffrey: I tend to be quite critical of Melissa Joan Hart’s acting, but this scene is actually pretty good by her standards.

The parents call and Sabrina reassures them that all is well.  The Mother is suspicious.  Sabrina throws the game again to keep Harvey distracted.

We cut to Teacher Night.  Zelda is fawning over Mr. Pool and talking to Hilda.  Mr. Pool calls her out on it and asks who they are.  Zelda explains they are Sabrina’s aunts.  “Sisters, not an alternative couple” she says.  He asks Zelda if she is single, which she is.  Zelda asks him if he is single, and he says “Extremely.”  Hilda looks ready to die.

When Nerds Flirt 5...coming soon to FOX.

When Nerds Flirt 5…coming soon to FOX.

Sabrina arrives at home with Mr. Kazootie and turns to Salem for help.  Salem is playing with a ball of yarn and seems very embarrassed by it.  Salem sends her to the school to talk to her aunts.

Zelda and Mr. Pool continue flirting. Hilda continues looking nauseated.  Zelda suggests trading emails, and they discover that they met in a science chatroom online as BioStud and ChemKitten.

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Sabrina breaks in and Mr. Pool confuses Mr. Kazootie as being Sabrina’s father.  Sabrina tries to explain that their real last name is Scottish, which of course is one Mr. Pool’s favorite things.

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Fortunately, before he can inquire more, Mr. Pool has to go work the bake sale.  Sabrina begs for help and explains what happened.  Apparently, she accidentaly used the Passion Spell.  If you say something three times and really want it, it might happen.  The Aunts call this a “Travis” spell, and summon Randy Travis to the bake sale.  He’s a good sport about it, even though his wife wonders where he disappears to.  They tell her that to fix the spell all she has to do is repeat the spell, but in reverse. She tries this, but it doesn’t work immediately.

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Claudia: I must’ve missed the period when Randy Travis was the “Ideal Man.”  Was it just that booking Tom Cruise was out of the TGIF price range?  Or even Jason Priestley?

Geoffrey: You got me there. I asked a few older female friends, and they were similarly mystified.  I’m surprised they couldn’t get Dean Cain, given that Lois & Clark was on their network.

Claudia: Poor Dean was probably tied up making one of the 50 zillion D-grade or made-for-TV movies on his resume.  Or, more likely, Lois & Clark was shooting the wedding/honeymoon episodes (the real wedding, not the Lex/Lois wedding or the frog clone wedding or the New Kryptonian royal wedding) and he was tied up with filming and promo for that. 

Mr. Kazootie escapes through the door and crashes the bake sale, making a spectacle of himself.

You're in big trouble, mister!

You’re in big trouble, mister!

Sabrina gets him home and puts him to bed after teaching him to shrug his shoulders if he’s questioned about why he’s big.  She returns downstairs to Harvey and just as they’re getting down to studying, the parents return.  Sabrina takes the money and bolts as the Mother goes to check on the baby.  Fortunately for Sabrina, the baby is under the covers and they don’t notice.  And shortly after the leave, we see him return to his actual form.

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Meanwhile, back at the Spellman’s, Randy Travis is now helping with the jigsaw puzzle. He asks if he can go, which they both respond to negatively. Sabrina is attempting to study but can’t get motivated.

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She summons Eddie Cibrian in what was an incredibly obsure cameo for TGIF.  She sends him downstairs to work on the jigsaw with her Aunts and Randy Travis.  She decides to try again with Brad Pitt as we cut to commercial.

vlcsnap-00135

Claudia: I’ve heard of Eddie Cibrian, but that’s exclusively due to recent drama in his personal life.  I don’t remember a time when he was A Thing, at all.

Geoffrey: I don’t remember this either.  What makes this especially odd is that Sunset Beach was a year off and nobody watched Baywatch Nights.

Credit Crawl

Mr. Pool tells the students to “Commence failing” the test.  He asks Harvey about the game, which Harvey says was “Freaky.”  Mr. Pool agrees, and then tells him about parents night.  He then tells Harvey to resume the test, and we fade out on Harvey trying to remember what mitosis is.

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Claudia: Poor Harvey.  Major in English, and you will never have to worry about what “mitosis is” again!  (Well, except for the whole Gen Ed core requirement of 2 sciences thing…)

Geoffrey: Yeah…he’s not smart enough for an English major.  Or even a General Studies major.  (And be glad you got 2 sciences, I had to take 3!)

Closing Commentary

Claudia: This episode felt rather short to me, compared with the prior two episodes which were jam-packed with exposition and/or plot elements.  This episode was much quieter, with the Aunts attending parent/teacher meetings and Sabrina just babysitting with Harvey.  I think quieter, lower-stakes episodes can be good for a series, especially for those in the scifi/fantasy genres.  The tension in this episode wasn’t that high, as it was completely obvious that Frank Conniff would turn into a 1-year-old again by the end of the episode… Sabrina was the only one mildly freaking out.  Not even Randy Travis or Eddie Cibrian’s stress levels went above a 1.  Of course, since I haven’t seen much of the show, I don’t yet know if TOTALLY INTENSE or light and fluffy, or something in between the two, is the norm for Sabrina.  But at any rate, I thought this was an adequate episode, and I don’t necessarily think that “adequate” is a bad thing here. 

Geoffrey: This episode was a bit lacking for me…and I largely agree with your points.  I think part of the problem with me for this episode is the A plot isn’t that good.  The B plot with Mr. Pool and the Aunts is really quite funny, and it really plays to their strengths.  I think the episode also suffers from what I call “Sabrina. Alone.”  There is no Jenny or Libby in this episode.  Even if Libby isn’t the main problem in the episode (rarely is she), she and Jenny both provide a kind of balance to the show, that is really missing.  The show works when Sabrina meddles or makes a mistake involving the people around her…not so much when it’s one-off characters we never see again.  I think, had the writers decided to do so, that the Kazootie family would have made for interesting recurring characters, and that might have branched out and made things work for me better.

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