Still the prime-time version of "Sabrina" is still the key piece of the bewitching equation, a show with a lot of kids' stuff that about 12.2 million viewers tune in to watch each week.
"Men come up to me all the time and say, 'I don't usually tell people this, but I watch "Sabrina," too,' " laughs tall, lithe Beth Gordon, who plays witch Zelda--the adult authority figure in the wacky Spellman household.
Many credit Melissa's uncanny acting skills for creating a quite unpretentious, sympathetic and--and completely plausible--character.
"I don't think anybody else could do this role," writer Berendsen says.
Kids like the message that "you can be whatever you want to be, you can do whatever you want to do and it's OK to be different," Berendsen adds. "Sabrina's not the most popular girl, so girls will watch and learn that everything is OK if you don't get it right or you screw up, there's a way to fix it. . . ."
Others around the show have another catch phrase for the show's popularity: "It's all about the cat."
"Puppets and animatronic cats can get away with murder," says writer and voice of Salem, Backay. "The talking cat is definitely popular with the kids, but what he says is one of the biggest adult hooks. He couldn't be more craven . . . and couldn't be more fun to write."