Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Sabrina the Teenage Witch are about as different as two shows both about a half-witch named Sabrina Spellman could be, which is fully on purpose.
Aside from one accidental homage to the fact that Hilda and Zelda love puzzles (and to possibly cheat on puzzles), Chilling Adventures stays pretty far away from anything '90s sitcom-related, but that almost wasn't the case.
In episode five, the entire Spellman family is trapped by a nightmare demon (who had previously been trapped by Sabrina's father) who puts them all to sleep and sends them into horrible nightmares. Sabrina's (Kiernan Shipka) nightmare involves Harvey's (Ross Lynch) family living up to their witch-hunting past and putting her in a sort of medieval torture device, which Miss Wardwell/Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez), of all people, has to rescue her from.
Originally, Sabrina's nightmare was going to be very different, with a lot more laugh track.
"Originally, I was going to do Sabrina's nightmare as she's trapped in a sitcom as an homage to the television show," creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa tells E! News. "I really was taken by that idea. My bosses said ‘listen, we love the '90s show, we understand what you're doing but give it a beat before you start doing stuff like that,' and they were right. But originally Sabrina's nightmare was going to be done in the style of the '90s or a '90s sitcom."
If you're now a little disappointed, don't fret. Aguirre-Sacasa says we still "absolutely" might get such a tribute—and there will be plenty of opportunities, given the increase of magic we'll see in season two—just a little later on.
As for the puzzles, die-hard fans of Sabrina the Teenage Witch may remember Hilda and Zelda working on jigsaw puzzles together, especially in the first season. In the first episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the aunts also work on a puzzle, with Hilda joking that she could just paint a piece to make it fit. Aguirre-Sacasa says he had no idea it was an accidental homage.
"Wait, was that in the '90s show? Oh my god, I didn't know that. I didn't consciously do that, no," he says. "No, it feels like an old fashioned co-dependent activity. I think that's what it was but I love that it's a homage to the show. I didn't know that."
There's also a little nod to the Sabrina of the '90s show and the original comics when, in the first episode, Sabrina comes home from a great night with Harvey, points at the radio, and music starts playing. Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that that little moment is actually breaking the rules of magic on the show, which are much more complicated than they were in previous iterations of the Sabrina world.
"We had a lot of discussions about that moment with the radio, and I love it, but it's promising something, like that Sabrina has telekinesis, that we don't exactly play," he explains.
Boss and super-producer Greg Berlanti encouraged him to keep the scene, saying "It's such a good moment, don't over think it."
"I was like, but the rules are so important!" Aguirre-Sacasa says. "He's like, you know what, it's such a great moment of theatricality, don't think about stuff like that. And he's right, people love it."
Aguirre-Sacasa says there's a lot more witchcraft in season two, but it's not like the magic from Sabrina the Teenage Witch or even Harry Potter.
"We wanted the witchcraft to be more occult and ritualistic and satanic than Harry Potter magic," he explains. "That [radio moment] feels like Harry Potter magic to me. It also feels like the old Sabrina comic book where she would zap the record player and it would play a record."
It appears that at least for now, none of the original cast will be making an appearance in Chilling Adventures, but they have sent their blessings. Melissa Joan Hart, Nate Richert, Beth Broderick, and Caroline Rhea all reunited for a short video for Netflix in which each of them send "best witches" to their Chilling Adventures counterparts.
And just a hot tip: If you've finished Chilling Adventures and are still in a Sabrina mood, all of Sabrina the Teenage Witch can be found on Amazon Prime!
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is now streaming on Netflix.