'Sabrina,' 'Midnight, Texas' and 'Channel Zero' Bring Pre-Halloween Chills
A critical checklist of notable Friday TV:
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (streaming on Netflix): For a teenage half-human witch, Sabrina Spellman has quite the pedigree: as an Archie comic, a TV cartoon and sitcom, and now a live-action supernatural thriller. This stylish, if still somewhat juvenile, 10-episode reboot stars Mad Men’s endearingly spunky Kiernan Shipka in the title role, balancing her desire to be normal with her newfound spellbinding gifts. As her aunts, Miranda Otto (Zelda) and Lucy Punch (Hilda) offer alternately stern and sympathetic guidance. After a slow start, things begin to pick up with homages to The Exorcist and the classic “Monkey’s Paw” horror story.
Midnight, Texas (9/8c, NBC): The sexy supernatural thriller, based on True Blood author Charlaine Harris’s book series, is back (after more than a year’s absence) for a second season, with new occult troubles bedeviling the peculiar residents of this remote Texas town. The catalyst: the opening of a new hotel of horrors, owned by healer Kai Lucero (Lost’s Nestor Carbonell) and wife Patience (Jaime Ray Newman). And as you might expect, swallowing six demons in last season’s cliffhanger has side effects for town hero Manfred (Francois Arnaud).
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Channel Zero: The Dream Door (11/10c, Syfy): The next best thing to a binge, Syfy presents the latest chapter of its graphic anthology horror series as a six-night binge, concluding on Wednesday, Halloween night. The chills begin when newlyweds Jillian (Maria Sten) and Tom (Brandon Scott) discover a mysterious door in their basement that opens a portal into their secret skeletons and darkest ids, inflaming insecurities and suspicions that take on murderous forms. It’s fair to say the honeymoon is over.
The Romanoffs (streaming on Amazon): Once again, the star power eclipses the narrative malaise in “Expectation,” the latest installment of Matthew Weiner’s uneven anthology drama. Connections between the chapters are becoming a bit clearer, with the return appearance of John Slattery as the author of a Romanovs tome that became the basis for the ill-fated miniseries being filmed in last week’s episode. He has a complicated history with Julia (the excellent Amanda Peet), a prickly New Yorker who resents the spoiled privilege enjoyed by her very pregnant daughter. The prospect of becoming a grandmother triggers some deep-rooted feelings about her own cloudy past. The episode also features appearances by Mary Kay Place, Jon Tenney (as Julia’s husband, who has some tenuous relationship with the Romanov family) and Diane Lane, who gets off the best line when she snarks of Slattery’s “armchair history” book: “There’s nothing worse than historians guessing at people’s hearts 300 years ago. We can’t even do it now.”
Inside Friday TV: The Los Angeles Dodgers head home as a 0-2 underdog, facing the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of The World Series (7:30/6:30c, 4:30/PT, Fox) at Dodger Stadium… Nia Vardalos guests on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (9/8c) as a demanding new client — probably not the best time for Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) to have a career crisis as she contemplates a typically atypical new path… One of the most eclectic guest line-ups you could imagine on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher (10/9c), starting with Stormy Daniels as the top-of-show interview, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (The Coddling of the American Mind) as the mid-show interview, and Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci on the roundtable panel.