Archives for posts with tag: supernatural

With all the re-launches, you would be forgiven for thinking TV is without any original ideas. Of course, you may be right; there is certainly a dearth of truly new programming at times. Besides, making a reboot is, as the film industry has shown, so much simpler than creating anything new.

But then we have a question of when is a reboot a reboot an when is it something arguably more – a rethinking or reimagining perhaps. To reach this level you need more than a new cast, you need an entire genre and tone change, and therefore take a much bigger gamble.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina certainly is more than a reboot. Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a kids’ comedy with talking cats, daft plots and very little substance. Of course, I loved it. Even now, the snarky Salem the Cat is one of my televisual spirit animals.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is definitely not a comedy, instead returning to the supernatural horror roots of the original comic. Personally, I miss the humour. In fact, the abiding air of the show is one of taking itself far too seriously. It isn’t exactly miserable as such, but it is lacking a wit that surely wouldn’t be that out of place. Some people have compared it to Buffy, but that also had a lighter tone amongst the angst, knowing when to be deep and when to be frivolous. Sabrina hasn’t learnt that yet.

It is also politically confusing as well. One the one hand, many of the plots touch on #metoo with the message of the importance female support groups, along with an open approach to sexuality and the generic ‘don’t be bad to those who are different’ moral. It is one of those shows that has worked so hard to strengthen its female characters, the men are underwritten into either being Neanderthals or pushovers.

At the same time, it is oddly conservative in how black and white it draws its moral lines. X group of people are bad, Y group of people good, and no one seems to really float in the middle. Again, this ability play with what is good or evil is where Buffy trounces Sabrina.

Some things, or rather some characters, save the show, although for me one of them isn’t Sabrina herself. I found her very irritating for the first couple of episodes, although I am coming round to her now. Instead, it is Aunt Hilda, Cousin Ambrose and Madame Satan who seem to be the most watchable. Of course, the latter isn’t a surprise, Michelle Gomez must be top of everyone director’s casting list when you are wanting a villainess with a fine line in menacing bon mots.

So overall, I would argue Sabrina could be so much better. The horror isn’t that horrifying, you never really feel the stakes raise and it is far too serious. For saying it is so much darker than its comedy predecessor, I’m not convinced it has any more substance. Whatever spell some say it has cast, it hasn’t worked on me.

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I have often debated on this blog whether a show should continue once its original premise has been fulfilled. Revenge seemed to be resolved enough after season 3 to make a fourth unnecessary, with plotlines truly jumping the shark. Ditto Once Upon A Time, which must surely be running out of ways to make Regina and Mr Gold evil On the other hand, Grimm has managed to make the season 5 story arc last long enough to go into season 6, although I still feel its swan song is approaching.

So where does that leave Suits now that Mike has been found guilty of legal fraud and is serving time for it? Now, I have to admit to bias here, as Suits is genuinely one of the shows that I genuinely love and spend a lot of time breathlessly talking about to others. So naturally I want it to continue, but only whilst there is enough breath in its body for it not to need life support.

In my opinion, it is doing surprisingly well. I initially found the prison scenes a distraction from the glamour of the law firm, but the espionage and counter-espionage is as present there as in the courtroom. Any thoughts that there would be no place left for tension can be banished, as Mike must both stay out of trouble and land someone else in it, whilst battling loyalties.

I find Pearson Specter Litt as fascinating as before, despite it being wounded. Most shows would have had Harvey strike out on his own and focus solely on helping Mike and building his own firm from the ground up, but The Good Wife stole the march on the virtuous rebuild, so instead we see Harvey, Jessica and Louis going into battle together. Jessica had always been a bit too much of an ice queen compared to say, Donna, but this season has shown a vulnerable streak, yet one that isn’t so much a chink of her armour but instead one that is an extra weapon. Her flip reverse on the pro bono idea of Rachel’s was a good example of this. It was also a relief, as I still find Rachel the most frustrating character, so desperate to be independent and sassy, yet so in the shadow of everyone around her.

So yes, Suits is pulling off that rare trick of going beyond its brief but still working. Perhaps that’s because it has always been slowly building to being more than the Mike and Harvey show. Even if it has sometimes relegated the other characters, it has never dismissed them completely, and each has had moments to shine. One day, of course, it will stop, and I will miss it. But like those that come out of a mid-life crisis energised as opposed to obliterated, Suits is extending its lifespan through canny plotlines and a smart recentering of the action.

Sometimes, I must confess, I am late to the party. I was three years behind everyone else in watching Broadchurch. It took a year of buzz to finally sit down and watch Orange Is the New Black. I am only just starting season 3 of The Good Wife. And now, a fair few months after being extolled the virtues of it, I am currently working my way through Midwinter of the Spirit.

I say working may way through, there are only three episodes, but feeling sapped of energy last night I settled down to watch part 1 of the repeat run and recorded 2 and 3 to watch at some point soon. I may even choose to deliberately break it up into weekly parts, mirroring how the original viewers saw it.

I normally hesitate to pronounce my views on anything after just one episode, but I feel hooked already on this supernatural crime thriller. For those unaware of the premise, a vicar gets trained in ‘deliverance’ (exorcism under a modern cloak) and finds herself assisting the police in a satanic murder whilst simultaneously dealing with the evil spirit of another recently deceased man, all the while trying to bring up her daughter and deal with the death of her husband. It does make you wonder how they fit all this in to just three episodes. I might have to get back to you on that one.

Part of the allure of the show is Anna Maxwell Martin as the lead. She does a fine line in strong, placid women who have a whirligig of emotions underneath that occasionally break through. She is one of those actresses that, despite being showered with praise, is still not quite the household name she should be.

The pace bowls along nicely as well, which is vital in such a short series. All the plots are bubbling away nicely, even if you are not quite sure where they all fit yet. I am particularly intrigued by tarot reader Siobhan Finneran, who is incidentally another actress who plays characters so well yet is often second fiddle on the cast list (Downton Abbey hasn’t been the same since her role as the scheming maid O’Brien came to an end).

Amazingly, after just one episode, I not only want to watch the other two, but also want to see another series. It is so hard to get creepy thrillers right that when we do, we should treasure it. And I promise to watch series 2 straight away.