TV Review: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

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Summary: As her 16th birthday nears, Sabrina must choose between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. Based on the Archie comic.
Mild spoilers ahead but nothing that spoils like big plot points or anything like that. This is a late review but this is my LAST SEMESTER OF GRADUATE SCHOOL and I’m trying not to drown. Whooo! lol
Pros:
Cast and Characters. I’m not going to go into super super detail about each character but they’re all pretty great and interesting people and I think all of the actors do a great job in their roles. Some stand out more than others but overall solid cast.
  • Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman. A half-human, half-witch teenager attending Baxter High, who is just beginning her dark education, while trying to maintain a normal life. She is a sweet girl who loves her family and her friends with a fierce passion and she will do whatever she can to protect the ones she loves. She knows she’s a witch and does a few minor things and there but as her 16th birthday is coming up, she’s really getting ready to be in the thick of things. Growing up she knew of the ritual to come when it came to her birthday and she’s looking forward to it, but at the same time, she doesn’t want to leave her mortal life behind because of the connections she’s made. So, Sabrina has to make the choice of being a mortal or being a witch. Throughout the show she does things with honorable intentions and sometimes things go astray because magic isn’t always predictable and it comes with a price. I think Kiernan Shipka was a great choice for Sabrina, I actually think she is the best for the role and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role right now. She is sweet but passionate and she handles some great emotional moments. She actually made me tear up when she was talking to Harvey in a later episode. I don’t think I’ve really seen her in anything other than her voice over in When Marnie Was There and she was great in that so she can definitely pull off the emotions that Sabrina feels and she’s great!
  • Ross Lynch as Harvey Kinkle.Sabrina’s charming, dreamy boyfriend who is the son of a coal miner and unaware of the dark forces conspiring to keep him and Sabrina apart. I was a little worried about the brown hair look on Ross but as the show went on, it grew on me and I really liked him. He’s sweet and so supportive and I love that he was the nice guy next door, who also liked to draw, who was also a romantic. First him and then Sebastian from The Carrie Diaries, where is MINE!!? He has a hard relationship with his dad, it even borderline on abusive (verbally and emotionally) and he leans on his older brother who he looks up to like no other. I was worried that he was going to just be the love interest, I hate that in general, but he actually had some stuff to do. He had a traumatic experience as a kid which paralyzes him and prevents him from working for his dad in the mines, but he still goes with Sabrina when she has to go in there. That’s what I call love. Then there’s a side plot that deals with a possessing demon and him worrying about if he’s brave enough. I liked his arc but I’m sad at how the season ended with him and Sabrina. Ross Lynch is very likable and I think he kept Harvey likable and not too whiny or annoying because he’s so nice.
  • Lucy Davis as Hilda Spellman. One of Sabrina’s two witch aunts, who has a motherly nature and warm sense of humor and is skilled at brewing potions. I’ve always remembered Hilda to be a bit goofy and the opposite of Zelda which she still is here, she’s definitely the nice one and I love how loving she is. Lucy Davis is super likable and while I think they didn’t know what to do with Hilda after a while she still had some great moments like when she saved Susie in the bookstore. I just hope they allow her to do more in the second season because she is so likable.
  • Chance Perdomo as Ambrose Spellman. He is Sabrina’s cousin from England, who is her partner in crime, but is forbidden from leaving the Spellman home after being placed under house arrest by the Witches Council for attempting to blow up the Vatican. We don’t really learn a ton about him but while he may have done some questionable things in the past he still manages to try and be a conscience for Sabrina. I think he became a missed opportunity as the show went on and like Hilda, they didn’t know what to do with him but he quickly became a favorite character. He wants to be free to do what he wants since he’s been stuck in the house for so long. Chance is so charismatic and likable that I want a lot more of him in the second season. 
  • Michelle Gomez as Mary Wardwell. Sabrina’s favorite teacher and mentor at Baxter High, who becomes possessed by the devil’s handmaiden to become Madam Satan, a cunning manipulator. So, we meet her in the first episode, the regular her and the possessed version and I have to say that Michelle Gomez kills. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in anything but she is so memorable that I can’t wait to see what they do with her in the second season. Her delivery, the way she moves, all of her clothes and her hair is amazing. She is trying to manipulate Sabrina onto a path to better serve their Dark Lord and she is good at it lol.
  • Jaz Sinclair as Rosalind “Roz” Walker.The brash, empowered and outspoken daughter of Greendale’s minister and Sabrina’s best friend. She is big on equality and for students to be able to read whatever books they want, she is very opinionated but clearly loves her friends. We learn that she has trouble with her eyesight and might going blind which she is terrified of happening but something else might be manifesting because of her losing her eyesight which becomes really important down the line. I like Jaz Sinclair (just don’t do anymore When the Bough Breaksstuff mmkay?) and I think it’s funny that she and Sabrina are friends when they aren’t in the comics. I also like the fact that she is loyal to her friends even when she’s sure they’re not being completely honest.
  • Tati Gabrielle as Prudence Night.A student at the Academy of the Unseen Arts, with a personal grudge against Sabrina. She is the leader of a trio of witches, the Weird Sisters. I LOVE HER. At first, I was like “meh, she’s awesome but I don’t like her but then I ended up really loving her. She’s an interesting character and in ways you really sympathize with her because as far as she knows she’s an orphan and it seems like she tries to be this big bad witch in the school just to make up for that. I enjoyed everything about her, her look, the way she spoke and all of her dialogue was interesting. I don’t think she’s in the comics, at least not that I have seen yet but she’s awesome. Tati Gabrielle is a gem. A GEM.
  • Richard Coyle as Father Faustus Blackwood.The High Priest of the Church of Night and Dean of the Academy of the Unseen Arts. I mean, he’s your basic headmaster who thinks his way is right and he has ulterior motives and is creepy and what not. That’s all fine and dandy and I think Richard Coyle plays it up soooo well. I mean, he looks like the bad guy but it’s up to you to decide if that’s what he is.
  • Miranda Otto as Zelda Spellman.One of Sabrina’s two witch aunts, who is sterner than Hilda and very protective of Sabrina. She is also a member of the Church of Night, devout to the Dark Lord. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about her in the beginning, she’s always been the sterner of the two aunts but as the show went on, she is pretty great. There is a great scene with her in the episode with the Nightmare monster that was great and some great emotional moments from her. She really wants her family to be safe and do what they’re supposed to do as members of the Church of Night. She does get involved in some things but I think Miranda Otto plays it so well that she manages to hold on to some dignity even though they go through some crazy stuff. I also love her delivery and all of her clothes are beautiful.
Tone of the Show. This goes hand in hand with the next point but I liked the overall tone of the show. It’s dealing with identity and maintaining morality and humanity and choosing the best path for you. Sabrina Spellman is half witch/half mortal which presents an interesting story throughout the season in which she must do things that could sway either side but because she’s both, she thinks she can do whatever she wants and sometimes without consequences. It’s quite interesting. It is a dark show, not all the time but the witches are children of the night which allows for some cool effects or cool connections to “dark magic”. For example, I think Salem is usually a warlock that was cursed into a cat but in this show, he’s a goblin, whose form we only saw once and it was super creepy who takes the form of a cat to be Sabrina’s familiar. There’s also a subplot with a possessing demon and it last for a little while in the show and also creepy.
Horror Factor. The show is creepy like legit. I think it was cool for the most part because when you’re dealing with witches, there needs to be a tone set for what kind of witches they are and when that’s clear, it opens the door for horror elements. In the first episode there is a scene with a maze and a tree, oh boy, I was like O.O, it all works for this show. If this kind of stuff was in the Melissa Joan Hart version it would be weird because it wouldn’t fit. Even the stuff with the demon and Uncle Jesse freaked me out, the comic is also equally creepy.
Sabrina and Harvey. They’re super cute. I remember in the older show that they had a relationship that took forever for them to get together and then it was on and off again but in this, they start off together, they start off in love and it’s really cute. They love each other and normally I make a little fun of 15 and 16-year olds being in love but I think it’s clear they have something pretty special. It was really sweet. Sabrina adores this boy and she always wants him to be happy especially since he doesn’t have the best relationship with his dad. That’s why what happens in the end blew my mind!
Sabrina and her friends. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about her friends, but as the show went on, I liked their relationship. I loved the loyalty between them (I’m talking about Sabrina, Roz and Susie exclusively) and while they know Sabrina might be keeping something from them, they don’t get upset because she’s not being honest, I mean they’re a little frustrated but they don’t treat her terribly. I liked how a lot of what Sabrina wanted to do was because she wanted to help her friends, she wanted them to be okay if she was gone at academy. They were supportive of each other and clearly loved each other (which is funny because so far in the comics, Sabrina and Roz are NOT friends lol).
Cons:
Really Dark. By dark I mean the show’s lighting isn’t very good. It may be intentional and in ways I get why it looks visibly dark but there’s a problem when I can’t see what’s going on ON SCREEN! If that’s a production choice then they need to change that in the second season. It’s okay, it can be dark but light enough where I can see what’s going on!
Starts Off Really Slow/Drags in areas. The first episode is really kind of slow. I mean it sets up stuff but it feels like it’s dragging on. I thought I was in the second episode but I was still in the first one lol. I think though once it gets going it’s really easy to breeze through but it does have moments where I’m like “okey dokey, don’t care about this. Back to the real stuff!” but it’s not often but it’s there.
Crossing the line. This isn’t really a problem for me but I wanted to address it because I can imagine it being a problem for some. There are elements in the show that are meant to be the way they are because Sabrina is supposed to make choices to push her down a darker path and what not, but I can see where it can be too much for some people. I thought about this a lot while watching the show and sometimes it made me squirm. It was bold and I commend the show for taking no prisoners but be aware that the witches do go “praise Satan”. I think if you’re firm in your beliefs it’s not going to affect you as it’s just entertainment but be aware.
Overall, I really liked the show, it was really good. I think the first episode may be a little hard to get through because it felt a little slow but once I got past that first episode, I blew through the rest of the show. I think it’s really worth the watch, especially if you’re into stuff like this. I think all of the cast does a really good job in their roles and I think all of the characters are really interesting and I’m curious to see what goes on with them in the second season. I like the tone of the show and what the message is which is that good and evil is not just black and white and you have to find out for yourself who you are. I think Sabrina represents a little bit of everyone without all the magic stuff. I’m not much of a horror person but I think the horror aspect really works for the show and it’s creepy but I could handle it. My biggest issue with the show is that it’s visibly dark in that it’s hard to see a lot of times and that it starts off really slow. I also want people to be aware that it might be a bit too much and not to watch it if it’s going to make you upset. Great show!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Have you watched Chilling Adventures of Sabrinayet? What are your thoughts about it? Let me know! And if you can, check out the comics at your local library!
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