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MORTAL ENGINES (December 8, 2018)

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Sabrina, Maniac, Daredevil: Netflix Is Knocking It Out Of The Park This Year...



I originally subscribed to Netflix when the Marvel serials were announced, happy to know my monthly fees would be helping produce live-action realisations of some of my favourite street-level characters from Marvel comics.

But since then the streaming service hasn't been resting on its laurels and has been using our money to create some of the greatest shows around at the moment.

This year, already, it has given us three of the finest shows I've seen on television (and I haven't even got round to The Haunting Of Hill House yet).


Initially, I thought the indescribably surreal and brilliant sci-fi fable Maniac - starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill - would turn out to be favourite new show of 2018, with its tale of dream-sharing and soul mates, but then I sat down to the feast that is The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina.

As a big fan of the late '90s sitcom with Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and particularly the snarky talking cat, Salem, I needed Netflix's re-imagining of the characters - largely inspired by the erratically published Archie Horror title of the same name - to be something special.

And it far exceeded my expectations.

The first season of The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina consists ten one-hour episodes telling the story of half-witch Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) who, on her 16th birthday - Halloween - under a blood moon eclipse is expected to forsake her human existence, sign her name in the witch community's Book Of The Beast, and go the Academy Of Unseen Arts to study to become a fully-fledged practitioner of dark magic.

However, she has a human boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), and good friends, Susie Putnam (Lachlan Watson) and Rosalind "Roz" Walker (Jaz Sinclair), that she's not that eager to say goodbye to.

Amongst the many layers of twisted darkness that permeate every pore of The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, there's definitely a perverse, anti-Harry Potter vibe going on, with The Academy of Unseen Arts being the very definition of a dark reflection of Hogwarts.

A beautifully Gothic atmosphere blends with sly political commentary throughout this very contemporary take on social mores, belief, and superstition.

The show constantly references horror movies, both visually and thematically, from the classic (such as The Exorcist and The Witch) to the crass (such as Basket Case), and while there are moments of dark humour along the way, this is about as far from the genteel shenanigans of Sabrina The Teenage Witch as you could imagine, without plunging wholly into the world of hardcore horror.


Sabrina's hometown, Greendale, although near to Riverdale, exists in a strange time out of time, where mobile phones and laptops are rare but not unknown, the kids talk about modern films but the TVs and cinemas only show old black and white movies (have to love any show that name-checks the sublime Carnival Of Souls), the school library still uses index cards etc

Rich characters and engaging stories make Chilling Adventures a joy to watch; I devoured the entire season in two days and when it came to an end I was aching to know what was going to happen in the second season.

As I alluded to the other day in my write-up of the final season of Ash vs Evil Dead, one of my acid tests for a show's quality is whether the world is rich enough to support a roleplaying game.

And the world of Sabrina is crying out for exploration of this kind, the world-building is amazing, mixing genuine folk tales and ghost stories with original material to create a rich tapestry more than suitable for gaming in.

Tomorrow (Sabrina's birthday), Justin Isaac, of Halls of the Nephilim, and Tim Brannan, of The Other Side, will be further developing this idea, producing gaming material based on elements of the Netflix show.

And while we're talking about Netflix's quality output, it would be very remiss of me - especially given why I originally signed up to Netflix - not to mention the recent amazing season of Daredevil.

The first, and the strongest, of the Netflix/Marvel collaborations, Daredevil continues to be the epitome of the streaming service's superhero output.

This season saw the return of Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk - aka The Kingpin - and introduction of Wilson Bethel's Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter, who was destined to become the infamous Daredevil antagonist Bullseye.

I'm not generally one to glorify villainy, but I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Bullseye because of his incredible skill set, his knack of being able to turn any object into a lethal weapon, and his superlative marksmanship.

And this season did the character proud.

With Iron Fist and Luke Cage recently having the plug pulled on them - hopefully to make way for a Heroes For Hire series - I really hope we get more seasons of Daredevil and Dex has a chance to return and go full Bullseye.

Netflix continues to use our subscription money to make shows of the highest calibre - as well as offer us a wide tranche of other shows and movies from around the globe - that I'm proud to support.

If they keep this up, it looks like I'm going to be a lifer.

2 comments:

  1. I agree with your takes on the shows. I've not finished Sabrina yet, but I love what I've watched. I can't wait to finish with my move and binge the rest of the season.

    I'm looking forward to see Tim's stats tomorrow. I need to finish mine up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the moment, Sabrina's the best new thing I've seen on TV this year. I was so enthralled the lack of Salem snark didn't even register ;)

      Really excited to see what you and Tim conjure up game-wise tomorrow.

      Delete

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MORTAL ENGINES (December 8)

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