Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pilot Review: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix)
Premiered October 26

I remember watching “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” back when it was airing about two decades ago. I never really liked it, partially because I’m not so into magic. In the age of infinite reboots, this one doesn’t seem so bad, mainly because it takes a concept that was popular and reimagines it in a very different and much darker way. The title is a clear enough indication, and though this supernatural stuff isn’t my cup of brew, I think it’s a better fit here than it would have been on its original network, the CW. Kiernan Shipka was always great on “Mad Men,” and it’s good to see her taking on this lead role here, empowering Sabrina as a champion of rights in this modern age, blazing ahead to stop bullying, racism, and so many other things. I was curious since Shipka looks much younger than Hart, but she’s actually eighteen, only two years younger than Hart was in 1996 when the original series premiered. I also recognized Richard Coyle from “Covert Affairs” as Father Blackwood, and of course the two aunts, played by Miranda Otto, recently of “Homeland,” and Lucy Davis from the original British version of “The Office.” Though this was never a show I planned to watch, I did find myself fully engaged during this opening hour, and I think this show has plenty of potential. Check this off on the list of positive instances of shows being restarted today and making a good case for the notion of new series not all having to be original.

How will it work as a series? I expected Sabrina to come back home and find her aunts in serious trouble, but instead it’s just Satan’s number two there to help convince her to have her dark baptism. Going to that boarding school doesn’t seem likely, but she’s still going to have to navigate her two identities in a way that doesn’t cause serious harm to the people in both her witch and human lives.
How long will it last? The reviews are very good, and a message of support from the cast of the original series wishing them “Best Witches” means that it’s also approved, which isn’t always the case these days. Even if reception wasn’t great, this show got renewed for a second season right away before it debuted, and therefore I think it’s going to have a long and productive run as the latest successful Netflix reboot.

Pilot grade: B

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