Netflix struck gold once, can they do it again?
I unashamedly adore the first season of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Its production ties to Riverdale and YA-fiction stylings initially set off some alarm bells in my head, but three episodes in and I was totally bewitched. It’s probably the most fun I’ve had watching a TV series since the debut of Stranger Things, and with season two just around the corner, here are some things I’d like to see from the wonderfully wicked series:
More Roz and Susie
The success of Chilling Adventures hinged on its careful balance of the supernatural and the normal. For all its demonic charm, the characters of Greendale are deeply human. Roz and Susie are like anchors, both for Sabrina and the audience. They are characters very much rooted in real-world problems, and their individual journeys throughout season one make them extremely likeable. While season two is pretty much set to go totally OTT with the whole “Satan taking over the world” thing, I’m really hoping for more Roz and Susie, and I want to see them fight. They're two women who really come to embrace who they are over the course of the first season, and though that doesn't exactly manifest into Sabrina-level magic, it's definitely powerful (and empowering) in its own right. The teasers show the pair having a more integrated role in season two, and I really hope that's how things shake out.
More Father Blackwood
For the love of everything unholy in this world, give Richard Coyle more screen time. I don’t want to make this list “Which Sabrina character is best?” (because that would just be Father Blackwood for five entries) but I would pay a whole new Netflix subscription tier to have this guy show up in everything. The way Coyle hams it up and just demolishes every scene he appears in is outrageously funny, but he maintains that suitably sinister mystique throughout. I would commit some real sins to protect this man.
More history, more magic
Season one had hints of Greendale’s history sprinkled throughout, and the moments where it really manifests (like those last few episodes) are really special. I’m not asking for a reverse year walk to see Sabrina’s parents or anything like that, but pulling up more ancient magic from the mythos sounds like a great accessory to the machinations of the Dark Lord. Mostly, I want to see Sabrina casting some cool spells and generally not stopping to consider the risks, as per usual. As I said, the first season succeeded because it split the difference between “magic” and “not magic”, but it only really teased the powerful stuff, the potent stuff. Sabrina proved that she can use some more exciting magic, and the season finale showed a more powerful side of her (with a whole lot more attitude). Give me more of that.
It’s not directly linked to the controversial series, but Chilling Adventures does nod its head in the direction of Riverdale on a few occasions. I’ve not seen it, but I’ve seen enough clips online to know that I want none of it crossing over with something as pure (or impure, rather) as Chilling Adventures. I get that I’m probably in some kind of minority, but this series is its own thing with its own characters and a largely independent world. Greendale feels small and far away from the problems of the wider world, and that does a lot of legwork in making it easier to suspend disbelief and enjoy the supernatural elements.
We haven’t seen many actual demons so far, which feels like a missed opportunity. I’m not sure what the VFX budget is like for the series (or what the Sabrina lore really contains), but I’d be down for some real fleshy nasties—even if it means obscuring them with clever camerawork and effects. Think Alien, but with a big goat-man. Likewise, we need more Salem. He’s not quite a demon, but he is a criminally underused character, if you can call a familiar taking the form of a cat a character. I don’t care if he talks, just make him do something.
Chilling Adventures felt like a risk. Bringing back a beloved franchise so many years later and fundamentally changing the tone can be hard to pull off, but I can't think of anything that did it quite so deftly as this. Kiernan Shipka is, frankly, perfect in the lead role. Do yourself a favour and catch up before season two arrives on April 5th.