“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is not a remake
Where did Sabrina come from: comics and TV shows?
Many people often call “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” a remake of the sitcom “Sabrina the teenage witch”. This is not true . Sabrina has many incarnations, and the series you know from 1990’s is not the first.
The character first appeared in the 1960’s as an episodic character in the Archie’s Mad House comic book series. It was about schoolboy Archie Andrews – optimistic and straightforward stories about daily teenage life. Only in the case of Sabrina, a pinch of magic added to them.
The readers loved the witch so much that in the 1970’s she received her own animated series and a separate line of comics. Sabrina had Aunt Hilda and Zelda and a cat familiar. At the same time, the authors introduced a rule around which lined up many plots later: in no case should witches get close to mortals.
Adaptation of these very old and good comics was the series “Sabrina – the Little Witch”. The show lasted seven seasons and three feature films. The audience loved not only the good humor, but also to the familiar Salem. Sarcastic cat became the main highlight of the series.
The Millennium Sabrina
This Sabrina was remembered by many. But in the new millennium it has changed radically.
In 2013, Archie Comics decided to rethink the stories about Archie and Sabrina, adding a gloom to them. In the Afterlife with Archie series, residents of Riverdale – Archie’s hometown – had to survive in a zombie apocalypse. Sabrina appeared in this story. The new image of the witch came to readers to taste. So 2014, the publishing house launched a separate line of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sakas completely reinvented the mythology and changed the genre. His “Sabrina” is not a comedy about funny schoolchildren and their problems. It’s a mystery about sinister cannibal witches, bloody rituals and deals with demons. Because of the misconduct of Sabrina’s father, the warlock Edward Spellman, the witch and her aunts were in danger. They solve problems in purely witch ways, turning to rituals and dark forces.
That Chilling Adventures of Sabrina formed the basis of the same series from Netflix. Aguirre-Sakas himself directs the shooting.
What Could it Become
Initially, the show was ordered by The CW channel, where teenage drama “Riverdale” was already coming out. It is based on comics about Archie and his friends. But in “Riverdale” there is a completely different, gloomy atmosphere. From the very first minutes, we learn that under mysterious circumstances, the young man Jason Blossom died. His body is found in the Sweetwater River (hello, Laura Palmer!). The investigation of his death is the key topic of the first season.
The new “Sabrina” was going to become the spin-off of “Riverdale” with an eye on the subsequent crossover. But Netflix “stole” the show along with the crew and producers. However, Riverdale itself released the online service, so both TV shows are now in the “Original Netflix Projects” category and there is still hope for a crossover.
We don’t know how much this move affected the quality of Sabrina. The show is full of sores characteristic of almost all The CW series: lifeless dialogues and ill-conceived storylines. But at the same time there is a bright visual style, a written mythology, an honest rating of “16+”.
It seems that the creators tried to improve the show in a hurry, because the series looks like a child of two channels at once. This is ironic, because Sabrina herself is a child of two worlds, human and witch.
The Child of the CW
In “Sabrina” events develop in the real and in the magical world. And it immediately catches the eye, how unequal they are, how small and insignificant are conflicts in a real school, especially at the beginning of the season. For example, in one episode, Sabrina and her friends struggle with teachers who forbid them to study in literature those books that they want. And in parallel, Sabrina encounters a terrible nightmare demon who tries to torture her entire family. In the second half of the series, this deficiency is no longer so noticeable, because the supernatural begins to penetrate the lives of ordinary citizens, and therefore the stakes are rising.
Another noticeable flaw is the low budget. It seems that the creators spent all on the actors, make-up and a couple of special effects like magic fire. Already by the fourth series you notice the scarcity of scenery: a couple of rooms, an office, a house of Sabrina, a forest, a cafe, a corridor at school – and, in general, everything. To add a variety of locations, the creators make a blur effect when the edges of the frame are blur.
Separate reproach deserves the study of characters. Many of the characters turned out to be memorable and quite vivid, their motives are far from clear. Say, Aunt Zelda, ready to do anything for the sake of her family and reputation in the coven, finally decides on a very ambiguous act.
Even more questions are caused about the Strange Sisters, who in relation to Sabrina serve as the collective Draco Malfoy. The girls are openly at war with the young witch, bringing the her almost to death, then suddenly help her. At the same time, the events almost don’t affect the characters of the Sisters.
Witches – including Sabrina – are fighting the patriarchy in the coven. This is a curious topic that became popular by the feminist movement W.I.T.C.H. in the 1960’s. Activists drew attention to the fact that the medieval witches were in fact uniting only in order to demand fair behavior to them. In the first episodes of the season, the authors tried to dig up this topic.
This is awkwardly presented especially in the school. For example, bullying pupils is shown selectively – high school students just pick up a girl with a boy’s appearance and no one else. Apparently, therefore, in the series, the “agenda” was almost abandoned.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina worth your attention at least because of its unique style. The show definitely has its face. This is a characteristic black humor, inherent in the comic book cruelty and playing up the theme of religion through grotesque satanism. The show surprisingly combines the romantic line of Sabrina and Harvey, scenes of cannibalism and ritual murder and a cute episode where Aunt Zelda reads excerpts from the Bible to children (in a devilish interpretation, of course).
The comic-source pleased the richly written mythology – however, in the series, the scriptwriter and show runner Aguirre-Sakas went even further. He turned the usual witchcraft into complex rituals with its consequences, added new characters, deepened the conflict of witches and hunters, showed other worlds. There are still enough white spots, but the viewer, like Sabrina, has not fully studied the supernatural side of the city.
Weak script pulls the acting. The main discovery of the show was Kiernan Shipka, who managed to portray both witchcraft cunning and human sensuality.
Brilliant Michelle Gomez, who played in Doctor Who, also got the role of an insidious intriguer. Her villain with her deliberately theatrical play immediately reminds the Master and Count Olaf from another Netflix project “Lemony Snicket: 33 fatalities”. But we immediately see that Mrs. Wardwell is not the one she claims to be, and in the end it becomes clear why she behaves so old-fashioned. And friendly squabbles of Zelda and Hilda, convincingly played by Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis, create the atmosphere of witch coziness.