This might be my age showing here but one of my absolute favorite pastimes as a kid growing up in the mid-90s was coming home from school every Friday night, getting into my dorky pjs, popping some ‘corn, adjusting my headgear and hunkering down to watch all of the dazzling programs on ‘TGIF’. Now all of the shows featured brought something different to the table, but none hit me like ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ (1996 -2003), starring Melissa Joan Hart (shout out to the real MVP – the ever-sassy animatronic, Salem).
Flash forward to circa now and not much has changed except that I’ve swapped popcorn for wine and upgraded my pjs (who are we fooling here…they’re ‘Harry Potter’ and I have no shame). The most important change, however, is instead of waiting to watch episodes of my favorite shows every week, I can now stream entire seasons of delicious programming ala Netflix, wherever and whenever I want. What a time to be alive.
Duh, I know we all know what Netflix is but I needed to paint a picture here, ok? Now that the stage has been set, we can dive into the good stuff.
For those of you living under a rock, Netflix has just released new series, ‘‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ which is based on the Archie Comic series of the same name, brought to you by the same folks running ‘Riverdale’. And let me just tell you, my adult self is SO here for it.
True, there are many similarities running rampant between the two shows, such as… cinematography, music, noir undertones, costuming and the ever-gnawing question of ‘what the hell decade are they actually supposed to be in again?’. Still, there is enough uniqueness to ‘CAOS’ to help it stand on its own. It should be noted also, that both series heavily incorporate themes of equality and gender throughout, which seems pretty timely due to the current national state of affairs.
This American supernatural horror series stars Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman aka little Sally Draper all grown up! The rest of the cast is also pretty adorable (I’m looking at you, Harvey Kinkle) but the standouts are definitely The Aunts Spellman, Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis).
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the recaps, shall we?
‘Chapter One: October Country’
*Quick point out – The Main Title Sequence is really fun, love the graphic novel vibe and overall feel of this bad boy. That being said I am the Queen of hitting the ‘skip intro’ button, so please watch this at least once you guys!
Welcome to Greendale, where every day feels like Halloween.
As our half mortal – half witch laments over the upcoming choice she will have to make on her 16th birthday (coincidentally on Halloween and a blood moon that has not been seen in 70 odd years) to either join the Church of the Night and go full witch, or leave it all behind and go full mortal.
After a viewing of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ with her friends, Rosalind Walker (Jaz Sinclair), Susie Putnam (Lachlan Watson) and boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) it would seem that Sabrina is leading a pretty charmed teenage life. After gabbing about the film and running into the unofficial historian / sheepish teacher, Ms Wardwell (Michelle Gomez) Sabrina and Harvey decide to take the long walk back to her mortuary home.
Budding young love blossoms at the base of Sabrina’s porch steps, as Harvey presents her with an early birthday gift in the form of a locket and his very first “I love you”. Afterward, Sabrina does the literal happy dance to The Ronettes classic ‘Be My Baby’on the way up to her room and all I gotta say is – Same, Girl. SAME.
Ms Wardwell however, has a very different evening. On her drive back from the movie, she picks up and brings home a nameless woman she nearly hits with her car. Which. let’s face it, is never a good idea. The woman is creepy, to say the least, and when she inquires if Sabrina is her student and Ms Wardwell confirms that she is, it’s all downhill from there. After a scissors to the neck stabbing, demonic possession of our little historian takes place. You can all but see the instantaneous ‘once-was-shy-but-now-I’m-a-siren’ transformation. Now our girl Sabrina unknowingly has a stalker on her hands.
Enter The Spellman family.
What’s great about this series is that there isn’t a long boring lead up to Sabrina finding out she’s a witch. She’s already very aware of the fact, has been doing spells and is legitimately excited for her ‘Dark Baptism’. Zelda and Hilda are yin and yang in human form, both so very different from each other, but undeniably ineffectual without the other.
Cousin Ambrose Spellman (Chance Perdomo) also resides at Casa de la Spellman and has for the past 75 years. As to why he’s unable to leave the premises we’re uncertain, but surely more to come on that further into the season. Ambrose acts as a sort of guide to Sabrina, and provides a more in-depth-look at what her baptism will entail. Enlightening her about signing her name in the Dark Lord’s book after which, she’ll cease to age (or at least age super slowly) and will then be required to attend the Academy of Unseen Arts. Which means she’ll be leaving all that she knows and loves behind from the mortal world.
Ambrose also helps run the morgue and notices a ‘dark mark’ on a stabbing victim brought to them. He is nothing short of quizzical when he discovers the mark does not bleed when punctured like it ought to. He brings this to his Aunt’s attention and it is suggested that this mark may be a ‘witch’s mark’ and an investigation should be brought about by the council.
Let’s Get Weird.
In the wonderful world of witching, each warlock and witch must have a ‘familiar’ aka a goblin that takes on the form of an animal. The familiar becomes the counterpart/ protector/eyes and ears of their witch and or warlock. Instead of picking a familiar randomly from a book, Sabrina decides to go off-menu and summon a willing participant. She does this while in the woods, which is when we meet the Weird Sisters, Agatha (Adeline Rudolph), Prudence (Tati Gabrielle), and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen).
Clearly, they have some serious beef with Sabrina as they loathe the fact that she’s:
1 – A half-breed
2 – Her deceased father was the headmaster of the Academy of Unseen Arts and therefore super important within their community. This might be a good time to mention that Sabrina’s father made a big no-no and broke law by marrying her mortal mother. Both died in a tragic accident years before, and the sisters allude to possible foul play.
The Sisters Weird decide to curse Sabrina just for funsies and then disappear. At this point, Sabrina utters the best one-liner of the episode: ‘‘Succubitches”.
Applause. Applause. Applause.
When Sabrina mentions this interaction to her Aunties, they display some major side-eye when confronted about it, which deepens her suspicions. You know Sabrina can’t be far off the mark.
After her little encounter, she meets up with Harvey and wracked with guilt decides to spill the beans about having to leave and that she is, in fact, half witch-half mortal. He’s in such disbelief and shock that Sabrina panics and decides to work a spell to make him forget she ever said anything.
High School Hell.
Sabrina’s friend, Susie is having a rough go in school as she’s being bullied by several untouchable members of the football team. With no end of the bullying in sight, Sabrina gets zero help, especially from Principal Hawthorne (Bronson Pinchot). His solution – Susie should change schools, end of story. Oh HELL no.
After a little nudging from Demon-Ms-Wardwell, Sabrina decides to start a club, ‘WICCA: Woman’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association’. But before she can get the ball rolling, she needs to get that pesky misogynist Principal out of the way. She and Ambrose cast a spell of spiders and voila, Sabrina and co. are in business.
When Sabrina gets home after her successful day at school, she is greeted by a shadowy figure in her room, stating itself to be answering her call for a familiar. The figure takes the shape of, you guessed it, a black cat and NOW WE HAVE SALEM, Y’ALL!
That is NOT the Scarecrow from ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
Still stricken with which path to choose, Ambrose suggests that Sabrina find a malum malus. This will provide her with a vision of which direction to follow. While questing for the oldest apple tree that harbors her malum malus with Harvey, she’s attacked by a pretty terrifying scarecrow, being controlled by Demon-Ms-Wardwell. Luckily the familiar with the mostess, Salem, pounces the devil scarecrow and all is well in the orchard.
Sabrina finally finds her malum malus and is shown some pretty graphic images of witches hanging and the Dark Lord emerging from the depths of hell, one can only assume.
Once home, ‘Brina (nickname for Sabrina) is welcomed by Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), High Priest of the Church of Night. He assures her she will have free will if she signs her name away in the Dark Lords book, and has nothing to fear by coming over to the dark side. Praise Satan I guess?