Season Of The Witch
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
With Halloween just around the corner, it couldn’t be a better time to talk about witches and more specifically, Sabrina, Samantha and Piper.
Reboots of the three popular witchy dramas are due to hit our screens; with Charmed and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina due this October. The third, a reboot of the Bewitched series which aired on ABC for eight seasons between 1964 and 1972, is still in discussion.
The concept of a reboot is, for many, a little like marmite. It can be fantastically received or instantly off-putting. I have the same attitude towards reboots as I do towards song covers; for it to be a success in my eyes it has to bring something different to the original. Otherwise, what’s the point? So do these new witchy offerings build on the successes of their predecessors through reinvention? Or are they simply a copy attempting to capitalise on the original’s success?
The oldest of the witchy series to be rebooted, the original Bewitched told the tale of Samantha Stevens, a witch who marries a mortal. Samantha fails to divulge the minute detail of her supernatural powers to her husband until after their marriage. Darrin, Samantha’s husband, makes her promise not to use her powers so that they can live a normal life. Of course, Samantha finds it difficult to stick to this and thus ensues eight series of Samantha’s magical relatives using magic to drive Darrin crazy.
Luckily, this story is being rebooted in the best possible way, accounting for modern dynamics in terms of relationships. The key characters, Samantha and hubbie Darrin, remain. However, the pilot shows Samantha as a black, single mum who, despite her magical powers, figures out that she is “still not as powerful as a decently tall white man with a full head of hair in America”. (News.com.au)
Here’s to hoping that the reboot will be less chauvinistic than the original. No trailer yet, sorry folks.
The original Charmed series followed three sisters, Piper, Pru and Phoebe (later Paige replaced Pru) and their efforts to protect the world from evil with the use of ‘the power of three’. Again spanning eight seasons, Charmed was a cult hit and popular with both male and female audiences (though this may have had something to do with the pulling power of its attractive female cast). The reboot also follows three sisters and their battle against evil, except their names are Macy, Mel and Maggie. The decision behind changing the names but keeping the alliteration going? No idea.
Charmed the reboot premieres in the US this month and will come to the UK on E4, although no premiering date has been set. After watching the trailer (at almost four minutes long, it felt like I was watching an episode) I can’t say I’m awaiting the series with baited breath. Unlike the promise of the Bewitched reboot, it seems to be a copy rather than a reinvention of the original. Sure, their names and appearances are different, but that’s about it. The house and the book of shadows seem to be direct copies. There is a British-accented Leo type character who is there to guide them. The humour, and in all honesty the acting, seems a little flat and so far the series doesn’t appear to offer anything that the original didn’t.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Sabrina the Teenage Witch followed Sabrina Spellman, a teenager with magical powers descended from a long line of witches. Sabrina lived with her wacky witch aunts and her talking black cat, Salem, who always had a scheme up his paw.
My sister and I loved Sabrina growing up; the constantly squabbling Aunt Zelda and Aunt Hilda, the blunders and mischief of Sabrina and most of all the sassy and sarcastic Salem. What the trailer promises us is that these key, much-loved elements of Sabrina remain, but with a darker twist. From the trailer it seems that Netflix is bringing us a true reboot; the essence of the original Sabrina remains but in a brand new modern, trendy and arguably bewitching skin.
The blond, teenage character of Sabrina remains, as do her struggles to come of age as a part mortal, part witch. The reboot focuses much more on this struggle than the original; posing it in the trailer as Sabrina’s main dilemma. Does she join the witch world of her family or the mortal world of her friends? Sabrina the Teenage Witch had a fantastic level of humour, with Aunts Hilda and Zelda, and of course Salem the talking cat, being huge driving points for this. The trailer promises that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will retain this; the line “let’s not be catty bitches” is immediately followed by a cut to a hissing Salem.
Refreshingly, this new Sabrina offers something that is completely different to the original: its dark undertone. The ‘chilling’ part of its title nods to this and the trailer supports it, with references to a variety of horror films including The Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist. Unlike the trailer for the Charmed reboot, the flashes of these horror elements seem more genuine and cleverly done. But perhaps this is because they juxtapose so well with the contrapuntal Sweet Sixteen score and the dashes of humour interspersed between. I’ve got to give Netflix credit here, they know how to make a good trailer.
If the previous two minutes of the trailer hadn’t whetted my appetite enough, the closing lines sealed the deal.
“Where’s Aunt Hilda?” asks Ambrose.
“She annoyed me, so I killed her and buried her in the yard,” replies Aunt Zelda.
Sabrina promises all that I loved about the show growing up, coupled with what I love now as an adult: wit, dark humour and a touch of horror.
Technically, the jury is still out on this ‘power of three’ until the series themselves hit screens in the UK. From the trailers and write-ups online, I have to say that Sabrina gets my vote, although interestingly the show was turned down by The CW, who are releasing the Charmed reboot. One too many witches for the network, perhaps? Regardless, Sabrina is due on Netflix on October 26th, making it perfect timing for Halloween viewing. So, next dilemma:
Image source: ABC