Back in the 90s, Melissa Joan Hart became a household name, with her tv-series Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The show was so popular, that the Wonderful World of Disney created a few made for TV movies and Sabrina Down Under was one of them!
Sabrina Down Under was written by Dan Berendsen and directed by Kenneth R. Koch.
The made for TV movie was released on September 26th, 1999.
The film opens with Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) flying over the great barrier reef on a helicopter and she catches a glimpse of a merman in the water. Sabrina thinks nothing of it, since she’s excited to explore and have fun with her clumsy, British friend Gwen (Tara Strong).
When Gwen meets Barnaby (Scott Michaelson) on the reef, she thinks he’s handsome and hopes to see him again, not realizing that he has a fishy secret.
Later on that day, as Sabrina and Gwen are strolling on the beach, they find something or someone beached on the shore. They are shocked to discover, that it’s a merman and it’s Barnaby.
Sabrina and Gwen, use their magic and transport Barnaby back to their hotel room. They are mortified to hear, that the mer-people colony is being poisoned by pollution in the water.
Sabrina gives Barnaby legs, so his symptoms won’t get worse and so he has the proper time to heal. Barnaby is enamored with the human world.
It doesn’t take long for Gwen and Sabrina to learn that pollution isn’t their only problem, regarding Barnaby’s mer-people colony. Marine Biologist Dr. Julian Martin (Peter O’Brien) wants to expose Barnaby’s mer-people colony to the world and become famous with his discoveries.
Sabrina and Barnaby fall in love, while the looming threat of Dr. Martin looms over their heads.
Sabrina befriends Dr. Martin and discovers that there’s a medication to help the mer-people who are getting sick. She takes the ointment to the mer-people colony, where she meets Fin (Lindsay Sloane), Barnaby’s sister.
Meanwhile, Sabrina’s feline companion Salem falls for witch-turned cat Hillary, but like always, Sabrina’s problems ruins his plans.
When Sabrina’s spell on Barnaby wears off and he’s no longer human, he’s caught by Dr. Martin who takes matters into his own hands and places him in a tank. Dr. Martin calls the press, claiming that he’s made a discovery of a lifetime. A merman. Sabrina and Gwen are devastated, so they take a risk of revealing their witchy powers and go out and save him.
Against all odds, they rescue Barnaby and return him to the sea. Dr. Martin leans the error of his ways and vows to no longer hunt down the mer-colony for profit. Rather, he vows to protect them and to bring more awareness to pollution.
Sabrina Down Under is definitely a nostalgic movie for anyone who grew up in the 90s. It’s filled with lessons about pollution disrupting the environment, friendship, loyalty, and love.