Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Review

Being part of the Nickelodeon generation (the good Nickelodeon generation) I’ve been looking forward to this Netflix adaptation/re imagining ever since it was announced, plus you know most of my books delve into the occult and my first TV hero was Buffy the Vampire Slayer so on the surface this show looked to tick many a box, or so I thought…

First of all this isn’t a fully negative review of what I thought was a mostly decent show but…

We’ll start with the good: 

The Characters…

Netflix have done an outstanding job in casting this thing; from the lead who is great and also has eyebrows like it’s 2018 because suddenly they became a thing, either way Kiernan Shipka carries the show as sixteen year old Sabrina Spellman; a half witch half mortal about to delve into the witchcraft underworld of her hometown Greendale. In fact I think possibly the best thing about this show is the array of characters and the cast. Love interest Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) carried his role with a depth and emotion that was well played throughout. Of course the Aunties are back in the form of Miranda Otto (scared the hell out of me, but also glam AF) and Lucy Davis (from the UK office), we even see a new character, housebound cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) who acts a lot of the time as a sort of consoling adviser to this young witch as she tries to balance mortal life of a typical High School teenager with that of the occult. Of course there are bad guys in the form of ‘the sisters’ and lead villain Michelle Gomez spends the entirety of S1 as the main antagonist. I have to mention Salem, who is a cat yet again but more of a ‘familar’ who doesn’t speak this time… (I’ll allow that as this isn’t predominantly a comedy)

The Setting

I loved the look of the town known as Greendale and surrounding forest. Everything seemed to have a certain dark grit which was delivered by some typical of the genre angular camera work . The high school stood somewhere between Archie comic and dark realism; in fact the production design and sets were flawless on screen. Greendale does indeed look to be an interesting place…

So Netflix are doing well, but then we get to the actual story which is where the problems begin…

I really really wanted to like this show, and I did mostly but Sabrina has problems with it’s story, there isn’t just one, there are several stories, in fact there are too many. The main story, sub stories and back stories spread this show too thin. Much of the time I felt the long running time of each episode did in fact drag which to me is such a shame because this show has so much potential. They seemed to be doing too much at once which to me felt like there wasn’t enough of everything.

Story telling in television and cinema seems to be a problem these days with the fact people make these wonderful productions with great performances, production design, costumes, effects… but the story is where it’s lacking (ref The Walking Dead, Star Wars, any Hollywood Horror film…) and that is where Sabrina falls down. There isn’t enough for what it is and that’s worrying for something with hour long episodes. There isn’t enough action to stimulate the dragging effect that seems to weigh this thing down. With Buffy every episode had to have a sequence of action, even if it was a solitary out-swinging kick it had something, this show doesn’t.

Attention spans are shortening and this whole binge watch thing works if the show is binge-able but it has to come naturally and not forced/planned. Orange is the new black works as a great example of this, you want to know what happens next, the tension grips you throughout but with Sabrina they tended to force every ending with a cliff hanger enticing viewers to binge, but after that long hour previously I really didn’t feel like another one.

This is problematic going forward and the show needs to do a lot to convince me to carry on watching for season 2. Netflix is great but not everything they do is. Just tell a story and stop worrying about telling several…

Final Thought and it’s positive!

The final episode was in fact awesome and if you like the occult genre then do check it out. There are some great characters; great performances and some familiar faces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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