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It's hard to believe, but today is Melissa Joan Hart's 40th birthday! That's right. Clarissa Explains It All? 25 years ago. A lot of fans remember that show; it debuted in 1991 during Nickelodeon's early heyday, and was on the network until 1994. Of course, Melissa's biggest claim to fame came two years later, when she began her lengthy stint on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. From 1996 until 2003, Melissa played Sabrina Spellman, the benevolent young witch from Archie Comics, and seeing how I was such a huge fan of Archie Comics, I watched this show religiously.
The series was part of ABC's noteworthy TGIF lineup; airing on the network for the first four seasons until it was moved to the then-known WB Network, where it aired for the final three seasons. Melissa has played her role in a pair of TV specials as well, and has also directed episodes of the series. The Sabrina series has spawned not one, but two animated shows, with Melissa lending her voice to Aunt Hilda and Zelda in the first one, while Melissa's younger sister, Emily Hart, voiced Sabrina.
In addition to playing Sabrina, Melissa played a pair of different villains on the series. In Season One's "Sabrina Through the Looking Glass," Melissa also played Anirbas ("Sabrina" spelled backwards), Sabrina's evil mirror counterpart. Her second role is more notable, playing recurring villainess Katrina Spellman, Sabrina's evil twin sister. She first appeared in the third season finale, where Sabrina learns the family secret: every Spellman has a twin. However, she later learns that in each pair, there's a good twin and an evil twin, and a tribunal is held to see which one is which. Sabrina ends up failing the test, and as punishment, she is to be dropped into a volcano. However, at the ritual, Katrina pushes Sabrina in without hesitation, and shows her true colors as the evil twin. Katrina resurfaced in two future episodes: "You Can't Twin" (Season Five) and "Deliver Us From E-Mail" (Season Six), continuing to plague Sabrina at every chance, all while cackling like a true wicked witch.
Melissa actually reprised her Sabrina Spellman role in Funny or Die's video, Sabrina and Salem: Together Again, which was released in 2012. In the video, Sabrina turned heel and decided to use her powers to terrorize customers at a restaurant, all while cackling in true villainous fashion. She didn't hold back, either; the evil Sabrina even targeted a child in the video. The video was under three minutes long and was funny as hell, and it was a nice twist to see Melissa playing a villainous version of the usually good Sabrina.
Melissa's last TV run was on ABC Family's sitcom, Melissa & Joey, which co-starred Joey Lawrence. Melissa played Mel Burke, a local politician who hires Joe Longo (Lawrence) as an in-house caretaker. The series debuted in the summer of 2010 and ended its run last August. Melissa has done her share of movies as well, most recently appearing in the big screen in God's Not Dead 2, which hit theaters a couple of weeks ago.
I need to watch Melissa & Joey; in fact that's officially on my "binge-watch" list.