April 6-7, 2024
Written by Carina Nilma
Back in 1996, TV series Sabrina The Teenage Witch took audiences by storm. It combined the comedic hijinks of magic with the drama of high school. Those of us who grew up with it loved how Sabrina would try to use magic to make things easy for her, only for it to backfire, leaving her to figure out a more reasonable solution. Generally the show was a bit more of a sweet and endearing take on the source material.
Nowadays though, those corporate focus test groups say that YA audiences prefer their TV with slightly more edginess. And also a little more faithfulness to said source material. So when Netflix decided to get their spook on and snatched up The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, lo, a new series was born. Here’s what we know so far about the new show.
The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina is a new Netflix series, thus far slated for two seasons and 20 episodes, which probably means 10 episodes a season. Originally the show was going to be on The CW network but Netflix threw down an offer the Sabrina team couldn’t refuse. For Australian audiences, this is a huge plus as it means easier access.
The series is created by Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, best known for also being involved in The CW’s (and Netflix’s) Riverdale. Originally Sabrina and Riverdale were going to be part of the same universe, though now with the network changes this seems slightly less likely. Or at least if it does happen, it may only be small crossovers or shared universe Easter eggs. Either way, we can hold out a little hope that there might be a chance Cheryl runs into Sabrina.
Early media reports and hints from Aguirre-Sacasa suggest that this new Sabrina reboot is going to be closer to the comic source material. Aguirre-Sacasa has also written and produced work on Supergirl, Glee and the 2013 Carrie remake, so we think his credentials check out for bringing that blend of dark edgy fantasy and the struggles of high school teen angsty drama.
And much like the comics, it’s going to be dark. The show’s official synopsis says the new series “reimagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina The Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft”.
It’s also said to be tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. “This adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.”
Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka has been cast as Sabrina Spellman, alongside Aussie actress Miranda Otto as Aunt Zelda Spellman, Lucy Davis (The Office UK, Wonder Woman) as Aunt Hilda Spellman, Ross Lynch as Harvey Kinkle (Sabrina’s boyfriend), The Vampire Diaries’ Jaz Sinclair as Rosalind Walker (Sabrina’s best friend), Doctor Who’s Michelle Gomez as teacher Mary Wardell, Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood and The 100’s Tati Gabrielle as Prudence (Sabrina’s enemy).
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) April 4, 2018
— Lucy Davis (@RealLucyDavis) July 14, 2018
As Archie Comics described, Shipka’s Sabrina will be an “empowered young woman, half-human, half-witch” who is “intelligent, compassionate and brave to the point of recklessness”. Aguirre-Sacasa said: “This is a darker, more macabre version of Sabrina, and we’re incredibly excited for people to see Kiernan make this iconic character her own.”
— Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (@sabrinanetflix) July 13, 2018
Melissa Joan Hart, who portrayed Sabrina in the original series, told Hollywood Reporter earlier this year that the darker direction showrunners were taking was the smart way to approach it. “If they wanted to try to redo it the way it was done, they’d have a lot of pushback,” she said. “It’s nice to, if you’re going to do a reboot, make it different, and I think that’s what they’re doing.”
She hasn’t ruled out a cameo either, although it sounds like a long shot: “It would depend on the project, the script. It would have to be really interesting. I just can’t imagine how they would bring me in. If the writers come up with a really brilliant way, and they approach me, I’ll definitely consider it, but I’m not expecting it.”
Most important of all is that Sabrina’s feline sidekick, Salem, will be in this series. Though it remains to be seen if he will be as sassy and wisecracking as the one that was in the ‘90s TV series (voiced by Nick Bakay), the fact they’ve shared a couple of different posts on Instagram featuring cats or mentioning him, goes to show that Salem will definitely be playing a somewhat integral role in connecting Sabrina to her witchcraft.
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) February 9, 2018
The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina will premiere October 26.
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) July 13, 2018