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Friday, January 27, 2017

Shawn Reviews the CW’s Riverdale

There’s been a lot of buzz about CW’s Riverdale for the past year. And I can see why everyone is so enthusiastic about this show. This adaptation of the world of Archie presents a darker, more dramatic take on the iconic comic book teens but stays true to the spirit of the characters. In some ways it’s just like Archie comic has come to life for the 21st Century.

The story of Riverdale does a great job of introducing the characters of the Archiverse onscreen and telling their stories. Everything starts with the mystery of the death of Jason Blossom. And in that death we see a reason for Cheryl’s erratic behavior in the comics. Then we see girl next door Betty hanging out with her gay best friend Kevin Keller who is pining for Archie and looking to make a friendship into a romance. And Veronica Lodge moving in. She sees him at Pop Tate’s when she’s hanging out with Archie…and he sees Veronica. 

We see Archie coming back from a summer job with his dad and getting an interest in music. So we know the Archies are coming. And football. Along with Betty and Veronica trying out for cheerleaders. Betty’s mom has an issue with Betty being a cheerleader. And a lot of other things.  The façade of Wholesome Betty’s family seems to hide very dysfunctional reality and that’s going to be an interesting story to see explored.

And Big Moose is on the Down Low. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Because it does give us a reason for his angry outbursts with Reggie and how he overcompensates by being so overprotective in his relationship with Midge.

And Jughead being kind of an enigma is really cool. I like how he narrates the story and in some ways is like a ghost. Is he a storyteller? Or a Ghost MGTOW?

There’s a lot to like about Riverdale. It’s not a faithful adaptation of the lighthearted humorous world of oldschool Archie Comics characters like Archie’s Weird mysteries or The New Archies. And while it doesn’t stay true to the letter of Archie Comics, it stays true to the spirit of them. In some ways it’s like a real world version of Archie, a bit darker, and a bit more intense. If Tim Burton made an Archie show I think it’d be Riverdale.

The production cinematography is beautiful and the acting is strong on Riverdale. Design wise, everyone looks like an Archie character come to life. The writing is tight and the characterizations are on point. Riverdale digs deep into the Archie mythos. I loved seeing the sign referencing PEP, the comic where Archie first appeared, hearing Veronica calling Archie Archiekins, and seeing Archie’s classic 1950s Bow tie at the dance. I really loved the mention of Betty’s sister Polly and the hotel called the Pembrooke, referencing the private academy Jason and Cheryl used to go to in the comics. Presenting that obscure fact shows the writers really studied the source material! 

I also like the fact that Archie is NOT A SIMP. This version of Archie seems to have a backbone and testicles, and seems determined to make his own way. He doesn’t want to be stuck in a dead-end life in a dead-end town called Riverdale. He’s working on becoming his own man and standing on his own two feet. In between football and music I think he’s going to learn some hard lessons about becoming a man. I love the focus on Archie establishing his masculine identity and his relationship with his father, this is definitely a step in the right direction for the character.

While I enjoyed Riverdale there are some things I don’t like about this adaptation. And the shoehorned diversity is one of them. Pop Tate and Josie and the Pussy Cats are Black. As I see it, that’s kind of a Loss for diversity. I really can’t stand this passive-aggressive diversity SJW crap, especially when there are already Black characters available in the Archiverse who are ready to use in this show. Instead of shoehorning diversity in where it doesn’t belong by making Josie and Pop Black, give me Chuck Clayton and Nancy and give them interesting stories.

I’m also not a fan of fact that Archie was tappin’ Miss Grundy’s MILF teacher ass. I know Archie Andrews got around, but this is kind of sleazy. I know it’ll relate to the hard lessons Archie is gonna learn about being a man, but turning sweet old Miss Grundy into a pedophile is just reaching into the sewer.  

I also don’t like idea of Archie’s dad and Veronica’s mom being divorcees. Yeah, it adds grit to the wholesome world of Archie, but I’d like to see functional two-parent families presented on an Archie show. It’s kind of a hallmark of Archie Comics and I’d like to think it’d work well on Riverdale.

Riverdale is like a darker version of an Archie comic come to life. The show is true to the spirit of the comics but has a special energy all its own. In some ways it reminds me of Marvel Studios films and how they adapt their comics to film. The producers have done an amazing job of adapting Archie Comics to the screen; I’m eager to see more of this show. Riverdale is an intriguing town, I’ll hang around town for a season.

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