TL;DR – A fascinating first episode that is both full of charm, determination, and also gets super dark … it had to be spiders …
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
When I was growing up there was this charming fun show on TV called Sabrina The Teenage Witch. It was this fun romp through the dangers of high school when you have to hide half of yourself away, though in this case, that half was the fact that you are part-witch. It had everything you needed in the 1990s, fun adventures, hilarious scenarios, oh and a sassy talking cat. So when I heard it was being resurrected, I was a bit concerned, and then when I heard it was part of the Riverdale universe I was more concerned because I get why Riverdale is popular, but it’s not for me. But this year we have already had one successful reboot from Netflix of an old beloved TV show in Lost in Space (see review) so I thought I would give it a look and well what an interesting first episode it was.
So to set the scene, Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is a young girl that lives with her aunts Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto) and her cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo). For most people in the town, the only odd thing about the family is the fact that they run the local mortuary but they all hide a secret, for you see they are all witches, and it is coming up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday and her dark baptism. Sabrina is being forced to choose between the mortal world and the world of witches, and it is a hard decision. But all of that is made harder by the fact that an evil has entered the town and it wants Sabrina defeated.
The first thing you see in the show is just how charming everything is, and I think that has a lot to do with the strength of the cast. Kiernan gives an amazing performance as the titular Sabrina and as the heart of the show you have to instantly bond with her plight, and you do. Part of it is that we can all sympathise with that moment in our lives when we are trying to decide our future, though maybe with not as many supernatural elements. However, more than that, you are immediately captivated by the life of Sabrina because she is written and performed with such compassion. To add to this, Harvey (Ross Lynch) is the caring and supportive boyfriend that we’d all want in our lives, even if he was not ready for the exposition bomb Sabrina gave him. There is the fun aunt and the business aunt, and the house is both macabre but also caring.
Where I am impressed with the series is how it can blend the charm of a coming of age story, with the dark nature of being part of a community that worships the dark lord. That is such a hard balance to pull off without getting some kind of tonal whiplash, and at least in the first episode they mostly pull it off. So you can have an episode where one of the core plotlines is starting a women for women group in the local high school to protect people from the toxic masculinity that seeps throughout the school. However, it is also an episode with a brutal murder, reanimated ghoul, and so many spiders, so many spiders …. it had to be spiders.
In the end, do we recommend Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Chapter One: October Country? Yes, yes we do. Now obviously, if you are someone who is not a fan of the supernatural, then this is not the show for you. However, I found the mysteries really interesting, and I am looking forward to see if it can continue the trend throughout the first season.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Directed by – Lee Toland Krieger
Written by – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Created by – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Based on – Sabrina by Archie Comics
Starring in Season One – Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto, Chance Perdomo, Michelle Gomez, Jaz Sinclair, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph & Richard Coyle with Abigail Cowen, Bronson Pinchot, Sarah-Jane Redmond, Kurt Max Runte & Lachlan Watson