REVIEW: CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA – PART 2

Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, and Gavin Leatherwood in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

Starring

Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Ross Lynch (Muppets Most Wanted)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Chance Perdomo (Killed By Debt)
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education)
Jaz Sinclair (Slender Man)
Tati Gabrielle (The 100)
Adeline Rudolph
Richard Coyle (5 Day of War)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)
Lachlan Watson (The Ultimate Life)

Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jedidiah Goodacre (The ORder)
Christopher Rosamond (Van Helsing)
Jaz Sinclair (Paper Towns)
Darren Mann (Giant Little Ones)
Ty Wood (The Haunting In Connecticut)
Emily Haine (Deadpool)
Liam Hall (Arrow)
Alessandro Juliani (Smallville)
Gavin Leatherwood (Wicked Enigma)
Alexis Denisof (Buffy: TVS)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Spencer Treat Clark (Unbreakable)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Luke Cook (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2)

Kiernan Shipka and Ross Lynch in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hammered feminist themes in its first season, with Sabrina Spellman challenging the patriarchy at every turn, facing off with the principal and jocks at her high school, the leadership of her coven, and even Satan himself. The teenage witch embraced supernatural forces, even as she fought against them, and ultimately sacrificed her principles — not to mention her immortal soul — to save her town, and her family and friends. It’s reminiscent of the path begun by Buffy Summers more than two decades earlier.Kiernan Shipka, Tati Gabrielle, Abigail F. Cowen, Gavin Leatherwood, Chance Perdomo, and Adeline Rudolph in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)If the similarities to Buffy the Vampire Slayer weren’t apparent last season, it’s probably because the show, and the audience, was so immersed in the mythology and history of witches in not-so-sleepy Greendale, and with Sabrina’s struggle to hold on to her mortal life, even as it slipped away from her. But with the heavy lifting of world-building out of the way, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is free to go full-Buffy in its second season, which arrives Friday on the streaming service.Lucy Davis and Alessandro Juliani in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)That shouldn’t be read as a criticism. After just one season, and a winter special, Sabrina’s world is already richer, and more nuanced, than Buffy’s was after seven. With the characters, rules and stakes firmly established, the show’s writers can throw into Sabrina’s path rebellious Kings of Hell, a jealous werewolf, a murder conspiracy, the schemes of the Dark Lord and, worst of all, Valentine’s Day. And that’s only in the first five episodes made available for review.Tati Gabrielle, Abigail F. Cowen, and Adeline Rudolph in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)Picking up shortly after the events of “A Midwinter’s Tale,” whose ending ties directly into “The Epiphany,” Season 2 finds Kiernan Shipka’s Sabrina seemingly settle into life at the Academy of Unseen Arts, only to upend one of the school’s oldest traditions by challenging Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) for the position of Top Boy. The shot across the bow of the patriarchal structure held dear by Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle), and the three challenge of witchcraft that follow, would be plenty for the premiere, except Sabrina — in the finest of Buffy traditions — also has demon troubles, which hints at the season’s overarching plot. Of course, the angry, entitled Plague Kings are perhaps the least of Sabrina’s problems, given that the Dark Lord also comes calling to collect what’s owed him, and the intentions of Michelle Gomez’s delightfully manipulative Mary Wardwell remain as inscrutable as ever. That’s all complicated by Sabrina’s determination to make a go at the Academy, which includes a new romance with Nick, but her inability to leave Baxter High, and her mortal friends, behind.Lucy Davis in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)Those friends, who had relatively little to do until the Season 1 finale, flourish in these new episodes, with Lachlan Watson’s bullied Susie Putnam emerging as the show’s heart as he musters the courage to tell his friends, father and tormentors who he’s always been: Theo Putnam. Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) and Roz Walker (Jaz Sinclair) are also given lives separate from Sabrina’s that, nevertheless, test her commitment to the Academy, and to Nick. So too is Sabrina’s family given room to develop beyond their (admittedly entertaining) roles as protectors and moral support. Lucy Davis’ quirky Aunt Hilda, who pinballed in between comic relief and (repeated) murder victim in Season 1, here reveals the depth of her ferocity and devotion. Although cracks had already appeared in the chilly facade of Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto), in Season 2 she displays a willingness to waltz into danger for the sake of the Spellman family. And cousin Ambrose? Let’s just say that Chance Perdomo’s fan-favorite character experiences a complicated arc.Ross Lynch, Jaz Sinclair, and Lachlan Watson in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)With more room to breathe in its second season, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina settles in for a little fun, bouncing between the (yes) Buffy-like “The Epiphany” and the holiday-themed “Lupercalia” before drawing influence from The Twilight Zone with “Doctor Cerberus’s House of Horror,” in which a mysterious stranger tells the key characters their fortunes. The latter could be easily dismissed as a throwaway episode, except that the twisted visions of the future hold elements of truth.https___blogs-images.forbes.com_merrillbarr_files_2018_12_CAS_102_Unit_00166RThrough the shifts in influence and tone, and the side trips into the stories of secondary characters, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina doesn’t lose sight of what made the first season so enjoyable: the moral choices, and failings, of a teen witch who wants to do what’s right, but is frequently forced to follow a dark path. Season 2 underscores that, with witchcraft having unintentional consequences, and those around Sabrina suffering because of her decisions.

REVIEW: LEGACIES – SEASON 1

Matthew Davis, Peyton 'Alex' Smith, Kaylee Bryant, Danielle Rose Russell, Jenny Boyd, Aria Shahghasemi, and Quincy Fouse in Legacies (2018)

Starring

Danielle Rose Russell (Aloha)
Aria Shahghasemi (No Alternate)
Kaylee Bryant (Santa Clarita Diet)
Jenny Boyd (Viking Quest)
Quincy Fouse (Logan)
Peyton Alex Smith (The Quad)
Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries)

Matthew Davis, Zach Roerig, and Danielle Rose Russell in Legacies (2018)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Demetrius Bridges (Containment)
Lulu Antariksa (What Still Remains)
Karen David (The Scorpion King 2)
Zach Roerig (The Gifted)
Chris Lee (The Chi)
Sam Ashby (Stranger Things)
Katie Garfield (Project Almanac)
Steven R. McQueen (Piranha 3D)
Ben Levin (Allegiant)
Andreas Damm (The Yearbook)
Amy Manson (The White Princess)
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe (Halloween: H20)
Ben Geurens (Reign)
Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel)
Nick Fink (Glee)
Riann Steele (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Erica Ash (Scary Movie 5)
Christopher B. Duncan (Veronica Mars)
Jedidiah Goodacre (The Order)
Rodney Rowland (The 6th Day)

Matthew Davis and Danielle Rose Russell in Legacies (2018)The Vampire Diaries and its resulting spinoff series The Originals saw pretty much every single one of their characters die and get resurrected in some new, creative way, and now, in true vampire fashion, this franchise is defying death once more with another spin-off series, Legacies.Danielle Rose Russell in Legacies (2018)After The CW ended creator Julie Plec’s first spinoff series, The Originals, the initial idea of a further spinoff – about almost an entirely new cast of characters – seemed unnecessary. But the series premiere of Legacies gives fans, old and new alike, credible reasons to return to Mystic Falls.Peyton 'Alex' Smith, Danielle Rose Russell, and Aria Shahghasemi in Legacies (2018)Legacies is an easy entry point for new viewers to join the TVD fandom. Most of the necessary plot details are explained in simple exposition in the first episode — it’s set several years after the Originals’ series finale, following an adult Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell) and seeing Alaric Saltzman (fan-favorite Matt Davis) running a school for young supernatural kids out of Salvatore family mansion.Danielle Rose Russell in Legacies (2018)But aside from the thrill of seeing the old Salvatore boarding house being used in a new way and some small but exciting cameos from fan-favorite characters, that’s where the comparisons to The Vampire Diaries and The Originals end, making this new spinoff more accessible than The Originals ever was. And for fans of the first two series, Legacies offers something new – a true supernatural high school drama. Yes, The Vampire Diaries may have started out in high school, but let’s be honest: those teens never saw enough of the inside of a classroom to earn their high school diplomas (let alone get accepted into college).Legacies starts with actual teenagers who are supernatural creatures, living at a school with other supernatural teenagers. The preppy boarding school setting allows Plec and co. dive into high school drama in a way they never have before. This works for several reasons. First, and perhaps most importantly, Legacies stars actors who are actually age-appropriate. No more 30somethings playing 17-year-olds. The friendships and romance intrigue actually feel right for a high school setting – and the supernatural elements are the cherry on top.

What’s most compelling about the romance on Legacies is how the new series takes a fresh and honest look at how many teens approach sexual identity. The new spinoff takes place somewhere in the near future (the timeline on Vampire Diaries and Originals got a little murky towards the end, but it landed somewhere 4-9 years from now) and the sociopolitical attitudes are refreshingly progressive: The teenagers at the school are all sexually fluid and don’t feel the need to label themselves.Danielle Rose Russell in Legacies (2018)With an accessible entry point for those who have never seen a single episode of The Vampire Diaries or The Originals, Legacies is for anyone interested in supernatural high school drama. And the nostalgic setting and fun easter eggs for fans of the Vampire Diaries universe are just the cherries on top.

 

REVIEW: THE ORDER – SEASON 1

Sarah Grey in The Order (2019)

Starring

Jake Manley (Heroes Reborn)
Sarah Grey (Power Rangers)
Sam Trammell (Imperium)
Matt Frewer (The BFG)
Max Martini (The Town)

6a01348361f24a970c014e6088c71b970c-320wi

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Katharine Isabelle (Hannibal)
Jewel Staite (Firefly)
Kawennahere Devery Jacobs (American Gods)
Louriza Tronco (Make It Pop)
Ty Wood (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Adam DiMarco (The Magicians)
Aaron Hale (Miss Sloane)
Jedidiah Goodacre (The Originals)
Dylan Playfair (Descendants 2)
Hiro Kanagawa (Izombie)
Emily Holmes (Snakes on a Plane)
Julia Benson (Stargate Universe)
Kayla Heller (Snowcoming)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Françoise Yip (Aliens vs Predator 2)

a4763c55-70a8-4acf-a9c2-4b41593fd64d-screen-shot-2019-03-06-at-31130-pmNetflix shows like The Order have an advantage that series that release episodes a week apart don’t have. Potential audiences can give a new show a quick opening binge right away rather than only viewing the always tricky pilot to prove that it’s worthy of being added to their viewing schedule. The Order is definitely a supernatural show that stands alongside The Magicians or The Vampire Diaries, but the true twist to the witches versus werewolves premise doesn’t show up until third episode. College campus drama tropes bog down the first episode a bit, but the central conflict is wholly unique with plenty of humor and well-written dialogue to smooth out the rough edges.MV5BZjZmYjQ2ZTktY2NjOS00NTg5LWJlYWMtNDE5ZDhhNjg5ODYzXkEyXkFqcGdeQW1yb3NzZXI@._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_On the one hand, The Order should be commended for not holding the viewer’s hand during key parts of the opening narrative. Jack Morton (Jake Manley of iZombie) and his grandfather (Matt Frewer of Orphan Black) clearly have some sort of ulterior motive for getting him into Belgrave University as a freshman, but the audience has to figure out why on its own, and the details that unfold go from simple to complex pretty quickly. On the other hand, the manner in which Jack is admitted and his almost immediate encounters with frat boys and townie-hating rich kids is meant to be accepted with a hand wave and does feel a bit rushed.the-order-netflix-season-2-4-1551991441704Given the hurry to establish the campus atmosphere, it’s remarkable how quickly chemistry forms between Jake and sophomore college tour guide Alyssa Drake (Sarah Grey of Legends of Tomorrow). Despite moments of overt flirtation on Jake’s part and even briefer flickers of mutual attraction, The Order is not in any rush to bring these two together or create any weird love triangles. A level of respect is built between them based on intelligence and an understanding that some of those around them, both magic users and regular students, are jerks with poor judgment.ty5y54yIt’s interesting that The Order pokes fun at ritualistic fraternity initiations immediately before bringing us into the pledge process for the titular Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, which includes — you guessed it — the presentation of a magically appearing blue rose to the potential Neophytes. Even those established in the Order, such as college chancellor Vera Stone (Katharine Isabelle of The Arrangement) and the higher level students like Alyssa, indulge in the use of robes and masks, but somehow the secret society comes across as neither haughty nor ridiculous. It’s just Hogwarts or Brakebills with a dash of alumni politics, and it works.the-order-e1551988902714The question is how many viewers will stay tuned in long enough to realize that the initial conflict that’s presented in which Neophytes are supposedly being killed by werewolves is not nearly as Saturday B-movie as it may sound nor is it in fact a true representation of the nature of the animosity between witches and werewolves at all? Jake’s place in the Order may have a lot to do with the mission imposed upon him by Grandpa Pete, but by episode three, it becomes so much more than that. And again, the friendships that Jake makes along the way (some of which lie in direct opposition to each other) are a bit rushed, but the humor that comes from the Neophytes playing with magic way beyond their understanding or Jack’s R.A. (Adam DiMarco of The Magicians, oddly enough) trying to figure out what to do with his new resident is definitely worth overlooking the artificially acclerated bonding. Fellow Neophyte Gabrielle (Louriza Tronco of Spiral) is especially delightful and will quickly remind The Magicians fans of an early Margo, and she and Brandon (Aaron Hale of Pure) importantly add some much needed diversity to the lily white cast.the-order-season-1-on-netflix-ofSo ignore the loglines and stick around until The Order shows you what it’s really all about. With engaging characters and with several compelling paths set before its protagonist, this show has legs if it plays its cards right. Characters whom you assume are good might not be so honest, and those portrayed as evil aren’t necessarily so. Achieving that level of complexity so quickly is worth the sacrifice of a little exposition. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have seven more episodes to binge.