Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Worst Witch: Season 3 (2000-2001)

To copy and paste from my previous Worst Witch review, When it comes to reviewing TV series The Worst Witch, I said most of what I can say about it as a whole in my Series 1 review, so I'll get right into reviewing the individual episodes of Series 3. First though, there are a few bases I'd like to touch upon (and yes, I am writing this post as if you've already read the Series 1 review, as I am FAR too busy to be more accommodating).

This season has quite a few cast change-ups. Una Stubbs is gone, and in her place is = as Miss Crotchet, Fenella Feverfew is now played by Emily Stride rather than Julia Malewski], and Mr. Blossom has left, replaced by his brother. The latter change is actually not entirely out-of-nowhere, because given Charlie is Mr. Blossom's nephew, it makes sense for this new character to exist, so they're not as forced as the Miss Tapioca replacement from last season. Granted, the reason given for Mr. Blossom's absence is pretty poor. It says that he went to horticultural college, which is pretty nonsensical given that he's already an expert gardener, and he's already middle-aged. Not that that's an unbelievable concept, but I can't see a middle-aged gardener bothering to go to college over it.

Ok, let's dig in...

Secret Society

Miss Drill is getting angrier and angrier at Miss Hardbroom's dismissive attitude of her, and snaps, deciding to resign.

This is a very nice episode! It has good conflict on many fields, from a fed-up Miss Drill wanting to resign, to the girls in their forming their own secret club. I especially like how the episode nicely comes full circle in the end.

The effects are decent. We get some really nifty ones at the start!

An Unforgettable Experience

It's work-experience time for the girls of Cackles  Mildred, Maud, Ethel, and Drusilla are assigned to the bakery Cosie's. Practically as soon as they arrive, Mrs. Cosie has to go to the hospital, and leaves the store in the hands of the girls. Ethel immediately and forcibly takes charge, using magic to completely alter Cosie's, from the decor, to the menu. Unfortunately, before Millie and co. can get Ethel to reverse her changes, some customers come in, including the Grand Wizard Hellibore...

At first I was worried that the Japanese characters would be made to talk like caricatures, but thankfully they just come across as not very bilingual tourists.

Which Witch is Which?

The plot to Which Witch is Which is pretty ridiculous fare, but not negatively so. It's entertaining, and while something as extravagant] as time travel hasn't been seen or mentioned the show before this point, it's not an unbelievable concept

The Witchy Hour

It's in this episode where the character of Dierdre Swoop first appears. Here, she's a stuck-up snobby bitch, but her character actually kinda grows in the sequel shows (Weirdsister College, and The New Worst Witch). I say kinda because it's entirely likely it was unintentional, but regardless, I still really like the character change.

The guest stars all do fine acting jobs,

My only problem with this episode is that it doesn't really make any sense why Miss Hardbroom reacts to Icy Stevens the way she does at the end.

Learning the Hard Way

A new teacher is temporarily at Cackle's-Gabby Gribble-and due to misunderstandings on both ends, Gabby tries to evoke = Miss Hardbroom

The first time I saw this episode, I remember the misunderstandings being cringeworthy (not in a bad way, just in that 'Ooohhh, no! I can't watch!' kind of way), but on my recent second viewing, the [impact] was lessened, so this is an episode that definittely = from a second viewing.

The Hair Witch Project

Not only is this a fun romp of an episode, it also focuses on an interesting subject-Which activities are unsuitable for school, and which are merely creative? There's a very fine line as far as teachers are concerned, as this episode shows.

It's in this episode where Miss Crotchet really comes into her own. Up until now, she was utilized very little, and The Hair Witch Project is her first big role in an episode.

And finally, the climax resolution and ending are hilarious, and I won't dare spoil them

Just Like Clockwork

Miss Cackle has to leave Cackle's for a few weeks to take care of a sick relative, and chair of governors Mr. Hallow appoints Mistress Hecate Broomhead (old enemy of Cackle's) as the school's new headmistress, with plans of letting her take the position permanently...

The returning character Hecate Broomhead is just as delightfully evil as she was last appearance, with Janet Henfrey doing a great job again! I also like that her motivations are different. Rather than just wanting to take Cackle's down again, like Sideshow Bob or something, everything she does in this episode is for a different and believable (and still of course nefarious) motivation.

The only issue is is a possible plot hole. In the Series 2 finale The Millennium Bug, Mr. Hallow and the rest of the school board of governors sold Cackle's to pop singer Amanda Honeydew, and she resold it to Miss Cackle, giving her complete control. Wouldn't that mean that Mr. Hallow no longer has a say in anything? But then again *several dozen redacted lines regarding bureaucratic red tape* I know nothing about this kind of stuff, so for all I know, the board would still stay on, regardless of what Amanda Honeydew did.

Cinderella in Boots

It's Christmas time at Cackle's Academy, and some girls are performing a panto of Cinderella, with Mildred performing the lead role, unless a scheming Ethel has her way...

A Christmas special, Cinderella in Boots is a fantastic and different episode than usual. Rather than having a more complex plot, it's instead an 'all-in-one-night' panto[ tale. It's highly amusing in many respects, from the frantic backstage nature of the production, to the performances of the characters. Especially hilarious is Miss Hardbroom having to perform as the fairy godmother to, most hilariously, and Maud as the wicked stepmother. She emulates Miss Harbroom herself for the role, and the result is one of the funniest parts of the entire show!

Art Wars

It's Art Week at Cackle's Academy, and Lynn Lamplighter, a famous artist, is over, helping the girls (and teachers) find their artistic sides. Mildred, despite her low expectations, manages to create a gorgeous painting, earning the ire of Maud...

Art Wars is my second favourite episode from this season. It's funny, has an air of creativity about it (a must for a story about art like this), and there's very well-done drama between Mildred and Maud, which doesn't play out in a cliched way, nor does it stretch on interminably! I also like poor Drusilla' constantly ruined attempts at clay modelling.

The only problem this episode has is that it furthers the confusion of whether magic is known to the outside world.

Power Drill

Miss Drill is feeling undervalued in Cackle's, especially amongst the staff, given she's not a witch, so Mildred and co. brew up a potion to temporarily give her instant magical powers, keeping it a secret. Miss Cackle, believing that Miss Drill has simply miraculously gained magical powers, decides to induct her as a witch. However, more than just Miss Drill's body has changed, and she grows harsher as her personality warps...

Power Drill is an entertaining episode, and shows once again that this show still isn't running out of ideas. Its plot is well-written, interesting,] and Claire Porter gets to play sort-of evil, which is nifty!

Another good aspect of this episode is that it elaborates more on the rules of who can use magic in the world of The Worst Witch (it comes to those from witch families easier, but anyone can learn it, providing they have years of training).

Better Dead Than Co-Ed

The third-years of Cackle's head to Camelot College, the nearby wizard school, as part of a field trip (and covertly to test out how well a co-ed system would work for a potential school merger). Mildred and co. find out about the idea and set out to sink it...

This is an entertaining episode, with some amusing battle of the sexes bureaucracy between the staff, while the students go about their own schemes of ruing the merger.

Charlie once again shows up, with his presence here furthering his character development. I'm definitely glad his aspirations to witch-hood weren't just a one-off plot point. As I said in my Series  review, I really appreciate the continuity to this show, as most kid shows only ever have self-contained stories with not much in the way of character development for anyone.

The Lost Chord

While the third-years are away at Camelot College, Cackle's is visited by Michael von Raffenburg, a supposedly world-renowned composer who seems to have taken a fancy to Miss Crotchet. However, his intentions turn out to be less than pure, and prior to his plans of performing a musical lecture to the school, the duplicitous conman plots to create an ancient magical relic known as the Lost Chord, which is only possible to make using a spell from a book found in the academy. Meanwhile, Sybil isn't fooled by Raffenburg's act, and sets out to stop him...

The Lost Chord is my favourite episode for this season! It's another secondary character spotlight episode, starring Sybil Hallow, with an entertaining story.

On my first recent (as opposed to when I was a young kid) watch-through of The Worst Witch, The Lost Chord was where I started to appreciate Miss Crotchet. I can pinpoint the exact scene too-When she goes out into the school courtyard, singing softly to herself. It's a [nice] scene, not meant for laughs or anything, but rather

Sybil is great as usual, and certainly different from her first appearance on the show, both in personality, and in magical skills. You REALLY don't wanna screw with Sybyl Hallow! Unfortunately this is the last we see of her for the rest of the show. While it sucks that Sybil doesn't show up in the finale, at least her final episode is one she stars in.

Clarice-Sybil's 'sidekick'- is still a good character, while Fenny and Griz are, as usual, very cool! They're always nifty and interesting, given their many talents and hobbies.

Unfairgound/The Uninvited

One day, Millie and her friends sneak out of Cackle's to go to a fairground, and are caught red-handed by the staff when re-entering the school. After that, and other circumstances, Miss Cackle really loses her cool, imposing harsh sanctions on the entire school. Mildred and co., feeling the whole situation is extremely unfair, decide to start up a secret newspaper, which is a success until the staff find out. While Miss Crotchet and Drill don't see a problem, Miss Cackle does, and expels Mildred and her friend Jadu...

This is a very well-written two-parter, with many twists and turns, as well as a funny semi-deconstruction of the usual Worst Witch finale story type.

It's here where Miss Cackle finally 'snaps', becoming decidedly harsher (until the end, of course), and thankfully the writing does so in a way that makes sense, rather than feel out of character. I also liked that Jadu gets more screentime alone with Mildred. She's never a character who was underused, but she's usually only been present when everyone else is, never really getting an alone moment]

The story here is not only very good in its own right, but it makes for a great finale, and wrap-up to the show!

While they are a bit of a deus ex machina, I really like Mildred's new talent, and they're genuinely complemented by the decent special effects.


And that's it for The Worst Witch. All three seasons done and dusted! There is more to come with this franchise however, with its sequels Weirdsister College, and The New Worst Witch!

And to any little boys reading this, know that the moral of this story is that you don't ever have to feel ashamed for watching a 'girly' show like The Worst Witch. If any friends try and tell you that it'll make you wimpy and girl, tell them that blogger Chris Hewson watches horrific and disturbing horror movies, and macho action movies all the time, and he thinks The Worst Witch is perfectly acceptable for anyone to watch...

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