After being picked up by Netflix with a two season order and recently finding its lead in Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka, Sabrina The Teenage Witch‘s new live-action adventure is fully underway.
Unlike the fondly remembered ’90s sitcom, this series promises to give the teenage witch a dark make-over, described as being “tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.” While this horror-influenced direction could be an interesting one for the character, with “dark fantasy” genre shows arguably reaching saturation point on our screens now, does Sabrina risk getting lost in the eery mist?
Originally, the show’s home was set to be The CW, as The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a name borrowed directly from the Archie Comics horror series of the same name by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack. The comic is a big departure from the lighter tone fans are used to, taking visual and thematic cues from ’60s grindhouse cinema and the American gothic.
Rumors of a Sabrina cameo in The CW’s Riverdale go back as early as 2016 and likely would have served as a kind of backdoor pilot. Netflix’s witch-napping, then, could have robbed the network of an exciting opportunity to kickstart a TV “Archieverse” similar to the one it has successfully created with its DC superhero properties. However, it’s been speculated that with a Charmed reboot and female-driven Supernatural spin-off in the works, The CW probably didn’t want more of the same, anyway.
The darker tone of what would have been The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on The CW would have clearly made it a good fit with the similarly moodier feel that the network reinterpreted other Archie Comics characters with in Riverdale. But now that that connection seems to have been severed, and the project’s name slashed down to just Sabrina, Netflix has the chance to take the show in a different direction… if it wants to. And, if the streaming service wants another Stranger Things phenomenon, there’s a strong case to be made that it definitely should.
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