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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) (1 Viewer)

Adam Lenhardt

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina imagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, this adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.

ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina_S01_001.jpg ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina_S01_002.jpg

The first season is being released in the pre-Halloween slot occupied by "Stranger Things" last year.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa ("Riverdale") serves as executive producer and showrunner, adapting the comic book of the same name that he created with Robert Hack. Both versions are based on the Archie Comics characters created by George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo.

Lee Toland Krieger (The Age of Adaline) is the producing director.

The initial order was for two seasons, each containing 10 hour-long episodes. Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter are executive producing for Berlanti Productions. Jon Goldwater is executive producing for Archie Comics.

The cast is as follows:
  • Kiernan Shipka ("Mad Men") stars as the titular heroine Sabrina Spellman, an empowered young woman who is just beginning her dark education as a sorceress, even as she tries to maintain a normal life as a sophomore at Baxter High. Intelligent, compassionate and brave to the point of recklessness, the half-mortal Sabrina is all that stands between us and the forces of darkness that threaten our world.
  • Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead, Wonder Woman) co-stars as Hilda Spellman, the more nurturing of Sabrina’s two witch aunts. But Hilda’s motherly nature and warm sense of humor belie a wicked, ghoulish streak. She is as adept at brewing spite jars against her family’s enemies as she is at concocting love potions for the students at Baxter High.
  • Miranda Otto (The Thin Red Line, The Lord of the Rings trilogy) co-stars as Zelda Spellman, the sterner of Sabrina's two witch aunts. Proud and devout, Zelda believes there is no greater honor than serving the Dark Lord as a member of the Church of Night. She is the family’s disciplinarian, fiercely protective of Sabrina, and very much Cain to Hilda’s Abel.
  • Ross Lynch ("Austin & Ally", My Friend Dahmer) plays Harvey Kinkle, Sabrina's mortal boyfriend. Harvey is the son of a coal miner, a dreamboat and a dreamer, completely unaware of the dark forces conspiring to keep him and Sabrina apart.
  • Jaz Sinclair (Paper Towns, Slender Man) plays Rosalind Walker, the brash, empowered and outspoken daughter of Greendale's Christian minister and Sabrina's (Shipka) best friend at Baxter High.
  • Tati Gabrielle ("The 100") plays Prudence, a student at the Academy of Unseen Arts and the de facto leader of a trio of witches known as the Weird Sisters. Beautiful and cunning, Prudence nurses a deep, personal, and possibly life-threatening grudge against Sabrina.
  • Michelle Gomez ("Doctor Who", "The Brink") plays Mary Wardell, Sabrina's (Shipka) favorite teacher and mentor at Baxter High. When she is possessed by the Devil's handmaiden, Madam Satan, Ms. Wardell turns into a sultry, cunning manipulator who is always trying to lure Sabrina down the Path of Night.
  • Chance Perdomo plays Ambrose Spellman. Sabrina's pan-sexual warlock cousin from England. Placed under house-arrest by the Witches Council, Ambrose is forbidden from leaving the funeral home where he lives with the Spellman women. Witty and puckish, he is one of Sabrina’s partners in crime, always up for mischief.
  • Richard Coyle ("Coupling", "The Collection") plays Father Blackwood, High Priest of the Church of Night and Dean of the Academy of the Unseen Arts. Ruthless and ambitious, Blackwood hides a terrifying dark agenda that will put him in direct conflict with Sabrina and other members of the coven.
  • Adeline Rudolph plays Agatha, another of the three Weird Sisters.
  • Bronson Pinchot ("Perfect Strangers") recurs as George Hawthorne, the villainous, puritanical principal of Baxter High. He is a constant thorn in Sabrina's side and is always trying to thwart her escapades.
  • Abigail Cowen ("Stranger Things", "Wisdom of the Crowd") recurs as Dorcas, the last of the three Weird Sisters.
  • Justin Dobies ("Dear White People") recurs as Tommy Kinkle, the protective older brother of Sabrina's boyfriend Harvey. Tommy toils away at the Greendale mines, a job he hates, so that Harvey can stay in school and hopefully get out of their backwards town.
Sabrina's cat, Salem Saberhagen, will appear in the show but the voice actor (if Salem speaks at all) has not yet been announced.

Promotional Photos:
ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina_S01_003.jpg ChillingAdventuresOfSabrina_S01_004.jpg
 

Josh Dial

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The new comic series is quite good--really great art. Kiernan Shipka was excellent in Mad Men.

I'm looking forward to this.
 

Matt Hough

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I will be giving it a try. Interested to see this new and very different adaptation of this material.
 

Josh Dial

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Love that they're using art from the new comic series (which is stellar--well worth reading).
 

Matt Hough

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I watched the first episode this afternoon. Very dark and menacing and from what I've read future episodes only get more intense. It looks like Netflix has spent a pretty penny on this.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Just finished the second episode which, taken together with the pilot, feels like a Sabrina the Teenage Witch movie.

The time period is vague; The clothes, the sets, the cars, the technology all point to the show being set in 1969. The televisions are in black and white, the radios use transistors, the cars have tail fins, the library has card catalogs, and there's nary a PC in sight. On the other hand, there are no racial hangups to speak of, and the considerations of sexual orientation and gender expression are very modern. And the teens' cultural references are a lot more modern. When they see Night of the Living Dead at the local single screen theater downtown, it's not a year old but decades old. There are references to graphic novels and Alan Moore. On the other hand, Halloween has only fallen on a Friday x number of times in the last fifty years: 1969, 1975, 1980, 1986, 1997, 2003, 2008, and 2014. Given that the source material debuted in 2014, that's probably the safest bet -- albeit an alternate 2014 largely trapped in the late sixties. I kind of wish they'd just fully committed to telling a period story in 1969.

Kiernan Shipka is a marvel in the title role. Sabrina is a young woman straddling two worlds, with all of the contradictions that entails. She is confident to the point of recklessness, stridently righteous in the causes she believes in, and at times devious and mischievous. At the same time, she is well-meaning and earnest in a way that feels straight out of the early comics, and occasionally leads her to trust naively. She carries the show with poise and self-assurance.

My favorite of the supporting cast so far is Sabrina's cousin Ambrose, sentencing to house arrest within the property boundaries of the family mortuary. He appears to be in his early twenties, but -- due to the fact that witches and warlocks age far more slowly than mortals after their dark baptisms -- is actually in his nineties. Of all the characters fully aware of what's going on, he's the only one who seems to primarily have Sabrina's best interests at heart.

The visual style of the show is also interesting. It's presenting in the old Todd-AO aspect ratio (2.20:1), rather than the standard TV aspect ratio (16x9) or the standard Netflix Original aspect ratio (2:1). It relies heavily on a form of shallow focus where the backgrounds aren't just blurred but also distorted. I've only seen the pilot for "Riverdale", which didn't especially grab me, but from what I can tell that show has a noir-ish color palette that skews heavily toward the colder colors: blues and greens and purples. "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" is lit like a horror movie, but it has a much warmer palette than "Riverdale", leaning heavily toward yellows and oranges and browns, with Sabrina generally clad in red.
 

Josh Dial

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It relies heavily on a form of shallow focus where the backgrounds aren't just blurred but also distorted.

This has the shallowest depth of focus I've ever seen. Personally, I think it's overused and doesn't actually meet what I assume is its artistic purpose--to evoke the look of the (new) comic series in which many of the panels' edges are blurred/scratched out (they look "sketched").

Shipka is a star.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Just finished the seventh episode. There's one filler episode in the middle (episode 5) but otherwise every episode has moved the various storylines forward.

Harvey has a smartphone, the only cellphone in the series so far, and particularly jarring since the other phones are not only landlines but rotary dial phones. Again, it would have made more sense just to set this in the sixties.

This is not naturalistic acting, so it's easy to underestimate the difficulty of the performances. Miranda Otto, in particular, has some tremendously affecting moments that slip through the imperious demeanor. The possessed version of Ms. Wardwell is a classic Michelle Gomez character, through and through. Tati Gabrielle finds some interesting notes as Prudence, Sabrina's immediate adversary.

This has the shallowest depth of focus I've ever seen. Personally, I think it's overused and doesn't actually meet what I assume is its artistic purpose--to evoke the look of the (new) comic series in which many of the panels' edges are blurred/scratched out (they look "sketched").
After the first few episodes, this is scaled back significantly.
 

Josh Dial

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After the first few episodes, this is scaled back significantly.

Yup. This shows it's likely the showrunner's "vision" (he also directed episodes 3 and 4, which are the worst offenders).

Thankfully, as you say, the use shallow depth of focus is minimal starting at episode 5, and it actually starts to be used more "artfully."

Personally, I enjoyed episode 5 a lot, as while I agree it didn't move the plot forward, it did a lot of work in developing certain characters (it showed and didn't tell--rare these days!).
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Just finished the first season. The last few episodes set up a very interesting second season. I've really grown to love this world.

Only one quibble:
If Shipka isn't bleaching her hair for the second season, I hope they come up with a better wig.
 

Matt Hough

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I watched the fourth episode today, my least favorite of the four I've watched. Anyone who has read my reviews knows I have an anathema for "mean girl" scenarios. They've been done to death, and there is nothing that can be done to make such set-ups seem fresh or fun or interesting. I liked that Sabrina got the better of them at the end, but it was no fun seeing her bated and insulted time and time again. And no surprise that the headmaster is a schemer and manipulator whose number Sabrina has had since the second episode.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Or, Adam..

She can just let her hair color change and have it be integrated in..
I don't think her hair with change back unless or until she is able to void her arrangement with Satan.

I watched the fourth episode today, my least favorite of the four I've watched. Anyone who has read my reviews knows I have an anathema for "mean girl" scenarios. They've been done to death, and there is nothing that can be done to make such set-ups seem fresh or fun or interesting. I liked that Sabrina got the better of them at the end, but it was no fun seeing her bated and insulted time and time again. And no surprise that the headmaster is a schemer and manipulator whose number Sabrina has had since the second episode.
Sabrina's dynamic with the Weird Sisters gets more complicated and less purely adversarial as the season goes on.

I will say that the middle episodes were my least favorite. I thought the first season started strong and ended strong, but stalled out a bit in the middle.
 

Matt Hough

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I finished episode 8 today. I'm enjoying it and have been sucked into this world, but I have to say that it seems like I've been watching episodes for two months. They weigh heavily on my subconscious, I guess, and they're also almost an hour each so unlike network hourlong shows that run basically 40 minutes, there is a lot more material here.
 

Matt Hough

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I finished the first season today. The cliffhanger (if you want to call it that) neatly sets up the second season, and I'll be looking forward to it. The characters who have survived are all intriguing and makes one want to continue watching to see what happens to them.
 

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