I’m coming up to my 26th birthday (rapidly) so for those of you with the quick maths brains, you’ve probably already worked out that I was born in the 90’s, when Melissa Joan Hart was pretty much all over kids T.V. For those of you that don’t know, she was Sabrina, in the lighthearted largely comical 7 years running Sabrina the teenage witch (before that she was in the best-named show ever….. Clarissa explains it all). I remember watching this version of Sabrina all the time! I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t wait to see what Sabrina and Salem would be up to this time. So when I hear that Netflix was bringing out a new Sabrina I was super excited, even more so to learn that it would be much darker and from what I’ve heard more in line with the comics (I haven’t read any). So far so good, it’s really nothing like the older series at all bar sharing the same characters, so if you were hoping for more of the old show you may be a little disappointed. (Mild Spoilers here on out)
I’m on episode 3 right now and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Kiernan Shipka is an excellent choice for the role of Sabrina, I think she even reminds just a little of A younger Melissa Joan Hart. Shipka plays the role well with obvious passion, this Sabrina is strong-minded and willing to fight for what she believes is right, she’s not easily swayed and always comes to her own conclusions. I think she is an excellent role model for young people everywhere.
One of Sabrina’s first actions that highlight that she makes her own choices comes in the form of finding her familiar, Salem. In the 90’s version, Salem was a short-haired black cat that used to be a witch, He tried to take over the world and was punished and transformed into a cat. 90’s Salem had a dark and sometimes sassy humour, and rather importantly, was a puppet. At the time it was quite easy to imagine he was a real cat, but looking back he now kinda looks a bit like a dodgy taxidermy (Sorry Salem). Fast forward, new Salem is played by a real cat and is Sabrina’s familiar, Sabrina chose to put a call out into the universe instead of catalog shopping for her familiar and Salam came to her. This new Salem is a strange entity that spends most of its time as a cat, in the episodes so far its been hinted at the amount of power that Salem actually has. Oh, and one more thing, he doesn’t talk!!!
Aunt Zelda and Aunt Hilda, of course, are central characters in The chilling adventures of Sabrina. Sabrina lives with them at their house that also doubles up as a funeral home business, her cousin Ambrose also lives with them. The dynamic between Hilda and Zelda is nicely done, it’s an age-old good cop bad cop trope, but we still use this arch because let’s face it we all love it really. Aunt Zelda is the course of the two and this can be seen in everything from her attitude to her opinion, she appears to love Sabrina but has more of a “we must do our duty” kind of attitude. Aunt Hilda is much softer and kinder, again portrayed in everything from her mannerisms to her attire. She’s often sympathized with Sabrina through these early episodes offering the warm motherly type of love in Sabrina’s life. The dynamic between Hilda and Zelda is quite rocky and again I think more bound by duty than by love. That’s not to say that there is no love there, I get the impression that Zelda would be fiercely protective in some situations.
Of course, there are loads more characters that are really just starting to develop in these early episodes, Michelle Gomez (Of Missy fame amongst others) as Madam Satan is a notable mention, I love Michelle Gomez and can’t wait to see what she gets up to. There’s Harvey, of course, and the rest of Sabrina’s school friends. Then there are the mean witchy girls, that seem to both have Sabrinas back and hate her. So I’m really looking forward to finding out more about these characters!
The overall quality of the show is also very high. The way it’s filmed and the various sets are excellent at capturing the much darker tone of this series. Everything is much much darker in atmosphere and lighting (Kind of like when things are going wrong in Riverdale, of which there are plenty of references to spot). The sets are nicely detailed and varied nothing seems to have been overlooked!
Overall I think the series has made a strong start. I like the way they’ve done the characters and I’m really enjoying the much darker vibes. I think this is just what this generation of fans is looking for, gone are the light-hearted days of the 90’s Sabrina. I really think this is going to quickly become a favorite of mine!