Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Ep 3.6, (Dir. Michael Goi)


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I couldn’t totally tell if I was being entertained by this episode. I’m gonna say no because it’s taken me a week to write this. I have to review Sabrina in stages like getting oral surgery. They root canal you- Sabrina Season Opener, They put bone and hardware up into your gums – mid-season Sabrina, and finally you get a new fake tooth and it’s over- Sabrina Season Finale.

If it weren’t the live tweet sessions with Lisa, I would’ve lost it long ago.  Those banter sessions make the show pretty fun; it’s a shame that the writers and directors can’t achieve that on their very own. In that same vein, if Harvey gets to be any more boring, he’s just going to be recapping his favorite scenes from “How it’s Made” on the Science Channel.  Hey Sabrina, you know what’re swell? Diving Helmets!

At least in this episode, Sabrina didn’t have to find anything. FFS, every episode has been

I miss Nick. But, Sabrina the Town. NIIIIIIIICK!  Sabrina wait….

NO, I’ve to find Judas’ silver, a stop sign, and an Easter basket and have it back at the rec center by Midnight!

Meanwhile courtly intrigue, Caliban is proposing to Sabrina to be his Queen of Hell and he’ll prove he’s on the up and up by making a crappy spell to turn Roz back from stone.  To do this, Harvey has to give up the thing he loves most – his 19th Century Danish Coin Collection.  He actually had to kiss Roz and it would make her not want to have anything to do with him anymore.  They should’ve just had Harvey try express a fully formed thought- she would’ve rolled her stone body the hell out of Greendale lickity split! The kiss didn’t work because he supposedly still loves Sabrina.  Instead, they just capture Circe and she changes everyone back from stone. Oh well.

Hilda is super-gross and nearly full-on spider. She puts a glamour on and decides to hang out with Dr Cee.  Unfortunately, she losses her glamour and he sees all of her spiderness.  He does what any fiance would do and gets her some fast food.  Why not?  While he’s gone, she eats a guy who must be 90% balloon, given the blood splatter.  When he does return, Hilda corners Dr Cee, has him fertilize her eggs (somehow yeech), and kills him.  Hilda tells her sister to come and bring a gun and Zelda kills Hilda.  Afterall, Zelda used to kill Hilda once a month; so, Zelda puts Hilda in the resurrection plot device out front and waits for Hilda’s return.

Lastly, Lilith seduces father Blackwood so that she will have a Satan baby to keep Lucifer from killing her.  Why not?

This episode was not terrible, but not great.  It kind of made me sad for Hilda and the actress herself because she rarely gets to show any range.  In this episode, we find out that she has a broadway quality voice. Oh well, Lisa’s got the next one. Tag, you’re it!

TV Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 3.4 “The Hare Moon” (dir by Viet Nguyen)


I have to admit that I groaned a bit when I discovered that the fourth episode of part 3 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was going to center around yet another holiday.  Seriously, how many holidays do these witches have to celebrate over the course of year?  This time, the holiday was the Hare Moon, which involves everyone dressing in white, going on a picnic, and not killing a rabbit.  The holiday itself doesn’t make much sense and, to the show’s credit, this episode opens with Sabrina telling her aunts that it doesn’t make much sense.

So, I wasn’t expecting much from The Hare Moon but, to my surprise, it actually turned out to be a pretty good episode.  At the very least, it held my interest and that’s more than I can say for the episode that came immediately before this one.  I think it helped that a good deal of this episode took place in the woods during the day, which meant that I could, for once, actually see what was happening without having to strain my eyes.  I know that I spend a lot of time complaining about how underlit and dark the majority of Sabrina‘s interior scenes are but I think this episode proved my point.  When I could actually see who was talking, it was a lot easier for me to actually care about what they were talking about.

The highlight of this episode came when, during the Hare Moon ceremony, the witches ran into the pagan carnival people, who were all celebrating a holiday of their own.  The interaction between the two groups was wonderfully awkward and, even more importantly, the carnival people seem like worthy adversaries to the witches.  The carnival people worship the Green Man and, by the end of the episode, they had delivered an ultimatum to the witches.  The witches can either worship the Green Man or they can die.  Since the covens powers have been weakened by a petulant Satan, the witches are momentarily at a disadvantage.

In other developments, Harvey and Roz decided to investigate the carnival on their own, which led to Roz getting turned into a statue and …. well, I mean, it’s Harvey and Roz.  If either one of them had a personality beyond Harvey being amiably stupid and Roz having an overprotective father, it might be interesting but they don’t so who cares?  Nick also ended up setting Satan free because Nick’s main reason for being on the show is to do stuff like that.  Of course, the Spellmans were going to free Satan anyway so that they could get back their powers but Nick decided to go ahead and do it so now the Spellmans are still weak and even more screwed than before.  Way to go, Nick!

Anyway, this was actually a pretty entertaining episode.  The carnival people are wonderfully sinister and Will Swenson was well-cast as their leader. Kiernan Shipka remains the show’s greatest strength and even Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis got a few good lines in this episode.  There was still a bit too much filler but all in all, this was one of the better episodes.  If only every episode was this good.

TV Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 3.3 “Chapter Twenty-Three: Heavy Is The Crown” (dir by Alex Pillai)


What’s this?, you ask.  Just now, you’re finally getting around to reviewing Chapter 23 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina?

Admittedly, it has taken me a while.  The third season or third part or whatever the Hell you want to call it of this show was released on Netflix all the way back in January.  That’s a long time ago even by normal standards.  In May of 2020 (this is May, right?), January seems as if it might as well have been a decade ago.  You remember what the world was like in January — Iowa caucuses, open movie theaters, strong economy, and no social distancing — and it feels like some sort of lost age.  Case reviewed the first two episodes of Sabrina‘s third season back in February.  I was supposed to review episodes three and four as soon as I got back from my vacation in March.  Of course, as soon as I got back, the entire world went into lockdown and it was easy to get distracted from the latest Greendale drama.

Plus, I have to be honest.  So far, for the most part, I just haven’t enjoyed Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  There have been a few tolerable episodes and Kiernan Shipka deserves to be a bigger star but the show itself often feels like a dead end.  The pace is often maddeningly slow and, other than Sabrina, almost all of the characters are rather flat and dull.  With the exception of Sabrina, everyone gets one defining trait and the show tends to beat viewers over the head with that trait.  As such, Aunt Zelda is always going to be arch and dismissive.  Hilda is always going to be naive and neurotic.  Ambrose is always going to decadent in the most boring ways possible.  Harvey is always going to be a dullard.  Roz is always going to be boring.  Beyond the one-dimensional characters, the whole look of the show bugs me.  Why does no one in Greendale ever turn on a light?  Why do I always have to strain my eyes trying to see what’s happening?  It gets frustrating.  Working up any enthusiasm to sit through another one of Sabrina’s adventures can be a struggle.

And yet, I will continue to watch the show because I do think that it has potential.  Now, to be honest, some of that is because the show is often so bad that it has nowhere to go but up.  But occasionally, there will be an interesting twist or a line of dialogue that doesn’t crash to the ground with a thud.  It doesn’t happen often but it does happen enough that I keep hoping Chilling Adventures will get things together.  My main hope is that, someday, the show will actually be worthy of Kiernan Shipka’s consistently excellent lead performance.

Just take the third episode of Part Three for example.  On the plus side, this episode features a trip to a wonderfully creepy carnival.  And even though the carnival itself is pretty obviously borrowed from Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, it’s still a lot of fun and effectively surreal and ominous.  However, to get to the carnival, we have to suffer through a lot of underlit drama featuring one-note characters.  We have to sit through Roz and Harvey having the least interesting relationship ever to appear in a Netflix drama.  We have to deal with Nick and his PSTD.  We have to deal with Miranda Otto delivering all of her lines in the same monotonous style.  We also have to sit through yet another quest.  In this case, Sabrina has to find three artifacts to hold onto the title of the ruler of Hell.  She manages to find Herod’s Crown but she still loses it to her rival for the throne, Prince Caliban.  So, I guess Sabrina is going to have to find the other two artifacts over the course of the season. I’d probably care more if Hell, as presented on this show, wasn’t so damn boring.  Presenting witchcraft as being tedious might make for an effective short film but making an entire series out of it is another thing all together.

And yet, Kiernan Shipka gives such a good performance in the lead role that you can almost overlook how annoying the show itself tends to be.  Shipka brings so much sincerity to her role that you want Sabrina to succeed.  I just wish the show was more often worthy of the talents of its star.

Oh well.  Fear not!  I actually liked the episode that came after this one.  I’ll be rewatching and reviewing it soon!

 

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S3, Ep2 “Drag Me to Hell” (Dir Alex Pillai)


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Have you have ever been in a relationship that goes sour, but occasionally you get the hang out phone call and it’s really fun? That is what this show is.  It’s usually terrible, but every now and again, it has an episode so good that you’re like- Why can’t it be like this all the time?!!! Why’d you marry Tom?!!!! I mean…TOM?! REALLY?!

This episode through me for a curve because the director – Alex Pillai is not known for horror, but he really knows the soul of this show.  It’s supposed to be suspenseful with some shots that show that we are in comic book reality with practical effects.  The episode established the stakes early on, built up the tension, and pulled you into the characters. In short, this director has a gift for horror and should be hired right away!

The writing by Ashley Chin was really well done as well. I was seeing a lot of dramatic pieces and wondered? How did he have such a great head for horror/thrillers? Then, I saw it: The Walking Dead!!! BOOM! I hope he writes more horror; he is gifted! WHY WHY WHY can’t it be like this anymore?!!!!!!

Sabrina is getting used to her job as the new Lucifer all while juggling being a…. cheerleader? Sure, why not? Fine.  It turns out that Sabrina needs to be like Sam in Reaper and take sold souls to hell.  The first soul she meets is this elderly chess master and she….lets him go? Why? Well, this does not sit well with Hell’s bureaucracy!

So, the next soul to take is this seemingly nice ice cream van vendor.  Sabrina was about to get all mushy with him too because she is preternaturally incompetent, but this changes when he says that he should get another 7 year extension by killing a child.  In fact, he already kidnapped her, sending Sabrina (and her much happier friends when Sabrina is not around) to find the child and send the ice cream man to Hell.  Side Note: could they have gone Reservoir Dogs on the ice cream man and shortened the episode by 45 minutes? Yes, but this poor judgement is in character for Sabrina to NOT think of that because as stated before she is BAD AT EVERYTHING!

Sabrina searches and searches and when she discovers the whereabouts of the child, she ignores her friend who says she should not do the rescue alone and…. she gets captured because of course she does.  Don’t worry Sabrina finds a way o….just kidding no way not Sabrina; she needs to be rescued because she is BAD AT EVERYTHING! Despite Sabrina’s incompetence, the episode did not let up the suspense, the plot moved nicely and there is a great practical effect pay off when the ice cream man is caught.

Other events: Blackwood is captured, becomes the new vessel for Lucifer, and the Eldritch terrors are coming.  So you know what that means: Nick is back and there’s gonna be trouble. Hey na, hey na, Nick is back!

Get ready for Lisa’s reviews of 3 and 4!!!

cheer!

 

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S3,Ep1, “The Hellbound Heart” (Dir. Rob Seidenglanz)


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Welcome to horrorth….Wait a minute, it’s not October….it’s …February?  Yes.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is like a failed marriage, aging football player, or your dad posting a video on YouTube; it should’ve stopped awhile ago.  Kiernan Shipka is a great actress, but it’s like she’s been shackled to the Detroit Tigers.  It doesn’t help that the director Rob Seidenglanz could make the Titanic sinking feel like watching C-Span.

The entire episode from the Party City inspired costumes to the bad middle school sets to the pedestrian camera angles….it was just awful.  Although I do like seeing a Lead Character as a self-centered incompetent, it’s refreshing and accurate for life.  Am I going to watch and review this season? Of course I will, but I will be sharing the pain with Lisa who will review episodes 3-6. We may even do another Livetweet … Fingers Crossed!

We left off last season with Nick trapping the devil inside his brain and got carried off to Hell to save humanity.  Well, I guess to heck with all that heroism because Sabrina misses her boyfriend and she REALLY doesn’t care about anything or anyone else.

First, going to take Nick out of Hell, puts everyone at risk who is strong-armed into going with her on this unnecessary adventure. Second, if they get Nick back and he dies, Lucifer is unleashed upon our world.  Third, I don’t need a third; this is dumb.

Sabrina decides that she wants to go to Hell and get Nick out. Fine. She of course does the reasonable thing and just takes herself into Hell and doesn’t risk her friends lives.  No, she risks everyone: Harvey, Theo, and Rosalind.  Side Note: Rosalind was blind for a while, but can see now…that’s weird.  Sabrina pushes her friends around and then they agree to go to Hell with her.  One note, the second Sabrina isn’t around all of her friends they start singing and start a band.  They need to read some self-help books about toxic friends.

The group goes into hell and it really looks like a British Columbia beach. They run into Theo’s uncle who’s being tortured in Hell. Of course, Sabrina insists that they stop and help Theo’s uncle. NO, Sabrina’s an Owner of Lonely Heart and she’s gotta get Nick back or there’s gonna be trouble hey na hey na. During the journey, we see that Lilith is ruling Hell in a Party City outfit and 10 dollar crown.  For some reason, Lilith is angry at Sabrina and it’s not clear why.  There’s also this boring intrigue competition for the throne of hell and can you blame them?! It’s British Columbia beach front!!!!

Sabrina confronts Lilith… because I just don’t know why. Sigh. Sabrina ascends to the Hell Throne – I’m assuming that’s what it’s called.  However, Sabrina is just going to run Hell part-time like an Uber side-hustle because she’s got debate team, mathletes, and 4H; so, this is the LAST extra-curricular. Period.  Lilith will advise Sabrina in her part-time Hell-gig.  This is the best of the worst: Sabrina gets Nick out of hell and them…. puts him in a … dungeon. Yep, after all that, she puts him in a dungeon.  Fine. There’s a lot of exposition that there’s some “Old Ones” coming to town and I keep thinking it’s going to be Wilford Brimley.  Maybe, Sabrina will come down with Dia-beetus? Beach party

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S2 E9, Dir: Rob Seidenglanz, Review by Case Wright


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The finale!!! Don’t forget to check out Lisa’s review here!  This season was without a doubt a televised story that Netflix paid to make.  It had its downs and would roll credits.  By the end of this season, I am excited to speak with the show’s fan.

Last season was a triumph and this season was …. just trying.  Why? I didn’t mind that the characters separated and returned together; that’s a critical part of storytelling. I also don’t totally mind what Lisa pointed out: Sabrina sucks at her job.  She’s amazingly incompetent.  That’s kinda refreshing.  Usually, incompetence is just the purview of fat husbands married to pretty wives on sitcoms.  Sabrina blunders through everything she does and manages to survive because everyone cleans up her messes.  This time with Nick’s life, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  This is the finale so let’s get our flashlights out so we can see anything on our screens and try to figure out: Whaaa Happened?!

There was something different about this episode.  It wasn’t directed like it was done by an overtired cashier at The Last Blockbuster Video (Alaska) who couldn’t turn on the lights.  The direction popped and there was actual humor. Why? Am I watching the right show? Rob Seidenglanz directed this episode.  He is known for a number of dramas: The Following, Parenthood, BUT he also directed Party Down- a no kidding great comedy!

This episode and the season can be summed up in one word: burritos….wait, I’m kinda hungry….I meant failure.  Our heroine and her friends can barely tie their shoes correctly.  They should all get chaperones in case they try something challenging like getting their own mail or cutting up their own meat.

Last episode: Our heroine figured out that she was manipulated…oh wait she didn’t.  She unleashed Lucifer by “killing herself” her double.  In this episode, Lucifer gets released and Sabrina challenges him right off. Wait, no she…has dinner with him.  In fact, we learn that Lucifer is her father, but Hilda never thought to mention it. Ok, did the writers’ room just decide to eat bunch of turkey and nyquil sandwiches this season?!!!!!

Sabrina and the aunties try to kill Lucifer, but they bungle that too.  It’s kinda funny.  Sabrina’s friends also fail to keep the gates of hell closed.  Sabrina does a …. song and dance number?????  Huh??? But, Why? Why? Why?  It’s apparently a scheme to trap Lucifer in a puzzle box of her Adoptive Father’s design and it……fails.  Is someone around to bail out Sabrina? Yep, Nick! He makes Lucifer possess him and does a sleep spell.  Luckily, Ms. Wardwell is around to carry them both off to hell.  The shot is reminiscent of The Beyond, but no one goes blind from the revelation.

The episode ends with Sabrina and her friends planning out season 3 by deciding to try to go into Hell and rescue Nick. Poor, poor Nick.  Maybe you should stop doing…you know…things.  See you next season.  Maybe, Lisa will review it again if you beg her as I will!

This season as gif:

OKfail

TV Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2.8 “The Mandrake” (dir by Kevin Sullivan)


When last we checked in on the adventures of the Greendale’s most boring family of witches, Sabrina had been resurrected as some sort of witch messiah and was planning on revealing the truth of her powers to all of Roz’s church friends when she was suddenly stopped by Harvey.  Harvey cried out, “If you ever loved me, stop!”  That got a look from both Roz and Nick, not to mention Sabrina.

Anyway, it turned out that Harvey found a wall painting of Sabrina in the mines and apparently, the painting indicated that Sabrina was destined to be the herald of Hell and bring about the apocalypse.

“Am I evil!?” Sabrina asked.

The 8th episode of the 2nd season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina attempted to answer this question and, as is typical with this show, the results were mixed.  In order to try to exorcise the evil out of her, Sabrina convinced Ambrose to help her create a duplicate Sabrina, a “mandrake.”  The Mandrake Sabrina would have all of her powers but none of her humanity and the plan was for the real Sabrina to kill the fake Sabrina 24 hours after creating it.  This would not only vanquish whatever evil that Sabrina had inside of her but it would also deprive her of both her powers and her immortality.  In short, Sabrina would become a normal mortal but, at the same time, she also wouldn’t end the world.

Sounds like a good plan, right?

Of course, it didn’t work like that, largely due to the fact that Sabrina is incredibly incompetent.  While Sabrina managed to create the Mandrake, she didn’t do a very good job of keeping track of it.  This led to the Evil Sabrina wandering around Greendale and exploiting all of her friends’s insecurities and weaknesses.  Of course, since Sabrina only has three friends, this means that the Mandrake just tracked down Harvey, Roz, and Theo.  If Harvey, Roz, and Theo were complex characters (as opposed to thinly drawn caricatures), it would be potentially interesting to see how the Mandrake manipulated them and tried to use their weaknesses against them.  But, as I’ve been saying since this season began, there’s not much to say about the members of Sabrina’s supporting cast.  Everyone has one or two traits that are used to define them.  Of course, Roz is going to be insecure about her relationship with Harvey and her eyesight because that’s really the only two things that Roz has going on in her life.  The show’s refusal to dig any deeper into its supporting cast remains one of its most glaring flaws.

On the plus side, the Mandrake’s plan to create duplicates of Harvey, Roz, and Theo did lead to a nice homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Kiernan Shipka did a great job playing both Sabrina and her evil twin.  As is usually the case with this series, Kiernan Shipka’s efforts to hold this uneven episode together were nothing less than heroic.

When the episode wasn’t dealing with Sabrina and her Mandrake, it was focusing on Father Blackwood’s attempts to break away from the Church of Night and join the Church of Judas.  It was …. well, not very interesting.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Wardwell sent a reanimated scarecrow to kill Sabrina.  The scarecrow failed, of course but Sabrina has now finally figured out that Wardwell is her enemy.  Considering that Mrs. Wardwell has never been a subtle antagonist, you have to wonder how dumb Sabrina is to have only now figured this out.

Anyway, I actually liked this episode a little bit more than the previous one.  It had all the usual flaws that we’ve come to expect from this series but Kiernan Shipka’s evil turn as the Mandrake elevated the episode.  As usual, Kiernan Shipka remains the show’s greatest strength.  At times, it’s the show’s only strength.

Up next, Case finished up season 2 by reviewing the finale!