From the CW Network, writer/Archie Comics CCO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schecter and Jon Goldwater comes Riverdale – a live action take on the famous Archie Comics series. It stars KJ Apa, Luke Perry, Skeet Ulrich, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Ashleigh Murray, Casey Cott, Marisol Nichols, Shannon Purser, Robin Givens and Madelaine Petsch. The series will return for a second season!
Archie Andrews starts the school year with the world weighing on his shoulders. He’s decided he wants to pursue a future in the music business, but his recently ended clandestine relationship with the music teacher has left him without a mentor, and his friendship with Jughead Jones is in a bad place. Things look like they might be turning around when Veronica Lodge, a new girl, arrives. Despite the instant chemistry, Veronica is hesitant to risk a friendship with Betty — who has a crush on Archie — to pursue anything. Amidst all the small-town banality lurks a mystery: the recent tragic death of Jason Blossom, the twin brother of beautiful and popular troublemaker, Cheryl.
Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is one helluva talented writer and I love the work he’s done in comics, especially ‘Afterlife With Archie’, which plunges the world of Archie into a horrifying zombie apocalypse… While THIS TV series based on the world of Archie may not be quite as grim, its certainly not the Archie we all know and remember from those little comic books we all used to read as kids growing up… Not even close. Twin Peaks meets Dawson’s Creek is more of what you’ll get here with Riverdale in the first season’s 13 youthful drama packed episodes which cram in droves of teenage love triangles, witty humour and murder mystery.
I will say this – I loved the pilot episode. LOVED it. I grew up reading Archie and I’m familiar with the new series that Mark Waid and Fiona Staples kicked off not too long ago. Riverdale seems to be on par with that latest comic (in ‘some’ ways) when it comes to the look of the characters and more mature elements, as opposed to the old-timey gags where Jughead eats a hundred cheeseburgers and cracks jokes. I don’t know if Jughead ate a burger more than once (or at all?) during Riverdale, but he certainly wasn’t the comedic relief in Riverdale… Hell – Jughead might be the darkest character on the series. I just wanted him ONCE – just ONCE to crack a smile. Not happening. This shit was bleak people. Really bleak.
The cast of young actors were all fantastic, everyone from KJ Apa as Archie, to all the little side-characters – the producers did a wonderful job finding these performers. I especially thought Luke Perry and Skeet Ulrich were particularly inspired casting choices as Archie and Jughead’s fathers respectively – and those two dudes were in some ways passing the torch to a new generation of hotness. Perry and Ulrich both delivered some of the finest work of their careers on Riverdale – and I hope to see more of both in season 2… Depending what happens after the chaotic events of the final two episodes this season that is.
I can’t say the same for every performer though – I wanted to push Betty’s mom into a well and then fill it with cement. There’s a moment where she’s spying on two gangmembers and she’s literally 20 feet away from them, but she’s peeking at the two with a pair of gigantic binoculars from her window. It’s one of those scenes where the camera pulls back from the two “villains” conversing, to reveal her in the middle – but she’s goddamn RIGHT THERE. AND SHE’S GAZING THROUGH ENORMOUS BINOCULARS BEHIND A CURTAIN – INTO ANOTHER WINDOW – ALSO WITH A CURTAIN. WHAT IS SHE SEEING?!?!?! FABRICS?!?!?
Riverdale was on cheese overload and it got far worse as the season progressed. I laughed constantly at character choices, plot points and the dialog and I laughed more and more in the season’s latter half… It got bad people… Really bad. When you start your show off with a murder mystery though – you feel obligated to tough it out and uncover the truth, so I tortured myself to get there. The result was satisfying I have to admit, but it was a test to make it to that point. The finale was also a gongshow and I think that Riverdale’s blessing is also it’s curse – the show thrives when it embraces it’s goofiness and outrageous plot twists… There’s a scene where Archie is punching through a thick floor of ice in order to save someone from drowning and as he does this – blood is pouring from his hand. If you ever wanted to see Archie bloodfisting a block of ice – you will get that shit and you will love it.
The show is profoundly stupid but it’s also entertaining as hell. The original music was fun to watch (although Josie and The Pussycats should really turn Punk in season 2 please…) and the cinematography was beautiful – Riverdale itself truly is another major character on this show and probably my favorite overall. Just know… That you will have to suffer through an absurd amount of over-the-top performances by a few individuals who don’t know what the hell they’re doing (I’m looking at you Molly Ringwald – get the hell out and stay out for the love of God) and some bizarre moments that kind of take away from the cool atmosphere that they’ve created and one that I’m OK being a darker one… It would be neat every once in a while however if Jughead smiled though. Maybe did anything other than looking like he wants to die alone in an alley….