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It’s perfectly possible you’re not even a teensy bit interested in intra-witch wars played out by teenage girls. That’s your choice, and your loss.

One of the most heavily promoted and closely studied Netflix series in ages, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (streams from Oct. 26) is a madhouse of ideas, themes, surreal retro-vibe visuals and fabulous acting. In fact, it glitters with performances to savour. Even when the narrative is as wonky as a newborn kitten, there are lip-smacking turns by actors relishing the material.

We meet teenage witch and orphan Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka, Sally Draper on Mad Men) who lives with her dotty aunts, Hilda (Lucy Davis) and Zelda (Miranda Otto), and her amusing cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo), who is something-or-other in the magic racket but under some kind of house arrest. “Ambrose, we’ll have none of your necromancy,” says Zelda, speaking like Maggie Smith doing Violet Crawley on Downton Abbey.

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Kiernan Shipka plays the teenage witch and orphan Sabrina Spellman in Netflix's Chilling Adventures of SabrinaCourtesy of Netflix

Events begin days before Sabrina’s 16th birthday, which will bring her “Dark Baptism.” That is, under a blood moon Sabrina will sign on with “the Dark Lord.” Becoming a full-time, powerful witch is the gist. Thing is, Sabrina is only a witch on her dad’s side, not pure witch, and she’s busy enjoying high school with common or garden mortals. At Baxter High, she even has boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch), who is smitten with her.

At school, Sabrina’s got a life and some issues to sort out. She’s outraged by sexism and misogyny, in particular. A girl has been harassed by the school’s football players and Sabrina takes this up with the principal. He’s a so-what kind of guy. Old-school. So Sabrina uses her powers to scare the bejeebers out of him. She also forms a feminist collective at school, modelled on a witches coven. Meanwhile, there’s a rather complicated battle going on for Sabrina’s soul in the dark world of witches and sorcery and such.

Set in a world (actually around Vancouver where Riverdale also shoots), “where it always feels like Halloween,” the series makes no attempt to be subtle in its feminist force. Sabrina is trying understand her powers and while she’s pleased she has a sweet boyfriend, she’d rather be tackling larger life issues. Besides, the boyfriend is a dolt. She’d much rather be tackling powerful men in the search for her own autonomy. Powerful men like, well, Satan.

It takes a while for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to get going – the second episode is superior to the first – but when it does, it stops being over-emphatic about Sabrina’s urge for adult female power, and settles into an actual series of adventures that further the eccentric plot. It takes on the tone and flavour of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and becomes both consistently funny and spine-tingling.

This series has been pored over a lot. Probably too much. There’s been a lot of analysis of the potency of its feminist undertow. That’s all fine, but the fun in the series has been overlooked.

Like Riverdale (now back on Netflix, weekly), the pulp quality of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is difficult to nail down or explain. Riverdale revels in irony, perversity and ambiguity, and the erotic charge of it is seething. In truth, Sabrina (which has the same executive producer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) is more finely crafted. Yes, it is about Sabrina dealing with the patriarchy she encounters in the world of sorcery and in real, mundane life, but it has a camp quality that is razor-sharp while being witty.

Mostly this comes through in the acting. Shipka is obliged to carry it, being in almost every scene. But older actors who embrace the artificiality with gusto surround her. Miranda Otto is excellent as the haughty, sharp-tongued Zelda and there is an outstanding turn by Michelle Gomez as high-school teacher Miss Wardell, who is the Devil’s handmaiden, or something. Certainly she’s a joy to watch, as Miss Wardell goes from nervously smiling teacher, a bit mousy, to raging, scheming temptress. All it takes is a touch of red lipstick and the character becomes ferocious. It’s an awesome performance and more resonant than some of the arch female-empowerment tropes.

The upshot is this – even if the teenage witch theme doesn’t entrance you, a taste of the bizarre, pulpy visuals and an encounter with the wonderful, propulsive acting might.

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