Sunday, November 11, 2018

On The Air: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been castigated in this space for refusing to share his vision for Archie Comics' horror line. Other writers have been able to save the line with new alternate continuity titles, while Aguirre-Sacasa went to Hollywood and abandoned the two books he was writing.

One of them, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, was adapted and rebooted into a Netflix series by Aguirre-Sacasa and Greg Berlanti (Riverdale, Arrow, etc.). The continuity of the series is not the same as the comic book, which may actually be a good thing.

On her 16th birthday, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka, ex-Mad Men) is faced with a choice. Either she commits to signing her name to the Book of The Beast and move to the magic realm, or remain with her mortal friends, including her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch, ex-Austin & Ally). Sabrina's parents, Edward, a warlock, and Diana, a mortal, were killed in an accident. In the comic book, Diana was sent to a mental hospital while, in the most recent issues, Edward had possessed a previously killed Harvey. Sabrina's aunts, Hilda & Zelda, are forever at odds. Hilda (Lucy Davis, "Wonder Woman") is more sympathetic than Zelda to their niece's concerns.

As with the live-action sitcom that aired on ABC & WB (1996-2003), the show is set in Greendale, which is adjacent to Riverdale. At Baxter High, Sabrina has to deal with strict Principal Hawthorne (Bronson Pinchot, ex-Perfect Strangers), while forming a new circle of friends. A friend asked about the cast of characters, and, aside from Hilda, Zelda, Harvey, Ambrose, and family familiar Salem, the supporting cast was created for the show. Madam Satan, however, is also the villain in the comic book, and her history dates back to the Golden Age.

Then again, it wouldn't be a Berlanti show if there wasn't an established supporting character rebooted for the LGBT community, and in this case, it's Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), described in notes on the show as pansexual.

There's also a callback to a classic literary tale as Sabrina retains the services of a lawyer named Daniel Webster (John Rubenstein) to argue her case.

Check out the trailer.


In terms of appearance, the producers nailed it right on the button with cute-as-a-button Kiernan Shipka, who captures Sabrina's classic look, save for the hair, which remains golden blonde, as opposed to the platinum blonde that Sabrina sported back in the 60's.

It's fitting, then, that Chilling Adventures dropped five days before Halloween, and has already been renewed for a second season.

Sabrina's story is more about establishing her independence and her identity. But what price would she pay for that?

Rating: B--.

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