The latest offering from the Sabrina Spellman franchise, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, has been a sinister departure from the more sunny moralizing of the early-2000s TV series. However the Christmas special, which aired on December 14, makes a return to older territory.
Season 1 saw Sabrina (played by Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka) accepting the sorcerous side of her nature and saying goodbye to her non-magical, or ‘mortal,’ boyfriend Harvey (Ross Lynch) (although this was not before unfortunately talking him into killing his brother), and entering the Academy of the Unseen Arts with a number of fellow witches – one or two of whom are prone to carrying out morally dubious stunts on mortal teens.
Yet the Holiday special shows Sabrina having second thoughts. Feeling remorseful over leaving Harvey and unable to cast a competent resurrection spell on his decomposing brother, she seeks a way back into his favour – with mixed results. Perhaps understandably, Harvey is reluctant to have more magic in his life.
This latest episode provoked criticism from some reviewers, who felt the story to be out of step with the tone of Season 1 and too quick to embrace teen drama cliche.
“There are a lot of shows about teenagers heartsick over their significant others,” wrote Megan Vick in TV Guide. “There are not a lot of shows about a teenage girl’s seduction by the Dark Lord and her attempt to destroy him.”
Yet prior to the episode’s premier, Ross Lynch insisted that Harvey and Sabrina’s relationship would inevitably have changed due to the “circumstances” of the first season, while Kiernan Shipka claimed the “emotional” tone of the episode was right for the holidays.
However, she added that “our show wouldn’t be our show without some excitement and some demons – literally.”