Chapter One: October County
Chapter Two: The Dark Baptism
Chapter Three: The Trial Of Sabrina Spellman
Chapter Four: Witch Academy
Chapter Five: Dreams In A Witch House
Chapter Six: An Exorcism In Greendale
Chapter Seven: Feast Of Feasts
Chapter Eight: The Burial
Chapter Nine: The Returned Man
Chapter Ten: The Witching Hour
Deliciously dark with a touch of charismatic charm, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a fine example of how to take an established comic and hit sitcom, change its tone and genre whilst maintaining the heart of what made the original so appealing. From Kiernan Shipka’s inspired tenacious performance as half-witch/half-human Sabrina Spellman to the surprisingly gruesome and sinister tone, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina does a great job establishing itself as a unique and engaging show.
With a second season already green-lit and being filmed, the first part of Sabrina does inevitably leave things wide open ready for the second part which is worth mentioning before you dive into this one expecting a contained storyline. Having said all that, the story begins with Sabrina Spellman on the cusp of her 16th birthday, preparing for a very special ritual that welcomes her into the world of witchcraft. With a happy mortal life rich with friends and boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), Sabrina finds herself torn whether to abandon everything she holds dear in exchange for servitude to the Dark Lord or turning her back on the life she was destined to take.
The first few episodes tackle this internal dilemma, fleshing out each of the key characters in Sabrina’s life including her Aunts Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda (Lucy Davis), cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) and high priest to the Dark Lord himself Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle). The wildcard here is the possessed Mrs Wardwell (Michelle Gomez) who provides the perfect mix of mystery and intrigue, wrapped up in a deliciously evil persona that evolves as the season progresses.
It does take a while for the show to settle into a consistent rhythm but once it does, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina thrives. There’s just the right balance of dark, Gothic tones blended in with a wondrous fascination, all encapsulated by impressive performances from the bulk of the cast.
Unfortunately for Sabrina, there’s an undercurrent of agenda-driven politics around feminism that seeps into most of the plot, at times overpowering the tone of the show. From Sabrina starting a female empowerment group at school to her best friend Susie Putnam’s constant struggles with her boyish looks, almost every episode hammers home the message of girl power. While this is still a positive message and it should absolutely be explored, it’s done in such a way that it feels like a constant barrage rather than a respectful nod toward current trends.
Having said all that, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina is a well written, enjoyable show that’s propped up by its charismatic characters. The slightly overpowering message around female power does offset the tone of the show somewhat but for the most part, Sabrina weathers this storm through to the climactic finale that leaves the door wide open for the inevitable second part. With a more focused emphasis on the plot and a continued balance of dark and lighthearted elements next year, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina could be one of the more long-standing successes on Netflix (especially with the teased tie-in with Riverdale) but only time will tell whether Sabrina can accomplish this based on an impressive first season.
Verdict - 7.5/10