“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” has found its Salem, and it’s kind of a let down.
Anyone who’s familiar with the world of “Sabrina”, most notably the classic Nineties sitcom, will know how important the character is to the mythos of the story as a whole. Salem was once a tyrannical dictator, but he was sentenced to life as a cat as punishment for his crimes. Wacky hijinks ensue.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the showrunner for “Riverdale”, has tweeted out a picture of the brand new version of Salem that we’re going to get in the new show, and, well, it’s just a cat.
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) February 9, 2018
Okay, sure, of course the character was always going to be just a cat. That’s the point of Salem.
This image, though, suggests that Salem will either be a silent character (essentially, just a cat), or we’ll get some kind of situation where computer effects enhance footage of a cat to make it look like the cat is actually speaking.
Neither of these are superior options to what we’ve seen before. Salem needs to be a puppet!
There’s so much more life and energy that can be generated from a puppet, as the Melissa Joan Hart sitcom proved. Salem was always the lifeblood of the show because of how much emotional range could be generated from a simple puppet, that just can’t be achieved with a real animal.
Admittedly, even in the old sitcom, a real cat was used for wide shots or any time that Salem needed to walk anywhere. Still, though, it’s hard to imagine that this new show will bother even trying to give the cat a personality when it’s easier to focus on the arguably sexier characters of the show.
Here’s hoping that the Salem of “The Chilling Adventures” turns out to be more than just a poor genuine cat that’s poked and prodded on set until it does something fun. This show needs a solid Salem in order to sell the entire “Sabrina” experience, and this is one element of the Riverdaleverse that doesn’t need any gritty realism.