When I was growing up I used to watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a light childrens comedy series a million miles in tone from the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Sabrina the teenage witch is taken from Archie comics and given a dark re imagining on Netflix. The show follows Sabrina Spellman, a half-witch around the age of 16 or 17. She comes from a long line of witches and is raised by her two aunts. She faces a daily struggle to reconcile her essentially good nature with her witch nature and the evil world in which she lives.
This is very much darker in tone than the other show and all the better for it. The witch world is much more realised and the characters less one dimensional. The cast is widened to include a wider circle of friends, rival witches, high priests, demons and the dark lord himself.
The cast is solid in almost all aspects. Sabrina is played excellently by Kiernan Shipka who plays Sabrina with heart and courage. She is strong and wilful but kind hearted and loyal. Other excellent members of the cast include Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis as Zelda and Hilda the two aunts and Michelle Gomez as a Demon possessed teacher.
The Aunts have a great interplay and represent the duality of Sabrina’s life in personal form. They steal every scene and provide a great counterpoint to Sabrina very much in the way that Caroline Rhea and Beth Broderick did in the 1996 series.
Some may recognise Michelle Gomez as Missy/The Master in Dr Who and again she shines in this show. Deliciously evil and Machiavellian she veritably chomps through here scenes.
The series is spilt in two seasons each split into two parts. A through narrative explores Sabrina’s struggle to avoid the Dark Lords clutches, avoid the internal politics of the wiccan world, survive high school and solve the mysteries surrounding her parents death.
All this seems to suggest a longer series but it has been stated that the series is set to stand alone at two seasons. It is refreshing that a series has the confidence to tell a story in such away, without being tempted to keep on churning out episodes with the inevitable drops in quality and changes in cast.
I am more than half way through season 1 and loving it. It feels like a modern day Buffy with a good balance of horror and dark humour, despite some of the grim material I find myself chuckling at several points. The well rounded characters and strong emphasis of story shows great promise for this series. I look forward to seeing where it leads, I feel it will get an awful lot darker and harder for Sabrina before this particular ride is over.