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Kiernan Shipka.jpg

Kiernan Shipka Will Front 'Riverdale's Sabrina The Teenage Witch Spinoff

By Kristy Puchko | TV | January 5, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | TV | January 5, 2018 |

Kiernan Shipka.jpg

The runaway success of The CW’s Riverdale has sparked a spooky spinoff about Sabrina Spellman. And good news for Riverdale fans who have languished for days between new episodes, Netflix has snatched up this series. Which means all 20 one-hour episodes will debut at once. And bringing some serious star power (and killer eyebrows) is Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka, who’ll headline the series as the titular teen witch.

Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said of Shipka’s casting, “We’re all such huge fans of Kiernan’s work that when we started talking about who this new incarnation of Sabrina could be, her name was on everyone’s wish list. This is a darker, more macabre version of Sabrina, and we’re incredibly excited for people to see Kiernan make this iconic character her own.”

Currently called Untitled Sabrina Project, this series is based on the comic line The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which is splashed with ghoulish gore and devilish plot twists. While I don’t expect that the show will be a hardline adaptation, the logline suggests it’ll be true to the comic’s horror-rich spirit:

Untitled Sabrina Project imagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, this adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.

This plus the press release’s description of the show’s heroine, seems to suggest Sabrina will show shades of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: “An empowered young woman, half-human, half-witch, Sabrina is just beginning her dark education as a sorceress, even as she tries to maintain a normal life as a sophomore at Baxter High. Intelligent, compassionate and brave to the point of recklessness, Sabrina is all that stands between us and the forces of darkness that threaten our world.”

Riverdale has been laying a path this season to supernatural elements and Greendale, where Sabrina lives. So the two shows might have cast crossover! Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shipka pop by Pop’s before the end of season two. But for now they share executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Jon Goldwater. Which is a great start. And even more intriguing, Netflix doesn’t depend on advertisers or viewers the way TV networks do. So it’s possible Aguirre-Sacasa and his team can have more creative freedom, and make this spinoff even darker and wilder than Riverdale. If you can imagine such a thing.

Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

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