Friday, January 27, 2017

On The Air: Riverdale (2017)

Kids, this ain't the Riverdale your parents and grandparents grew up with, assuming, of course, they read Archie Comics. Not even close.

Archie's Chief Creative Officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, has spent the last couple of years developing Riverdale for television, such that he has neglected his work on Archie's horror line, causing interminable delays that we've discussed before. The fruits of his labors were brought forward Thursday night with the latest addition to the CW roster, and the 5th CW series from producer Greg Berlanti (Supergirl, Arrow, etc.). Aguirre-Sacasa's dark take on the town is so radically opposite of the saccharine, treacly, continuity-free books of the past, and so very much the type of show CW prefers for its target demographic.

A few quick notes:

*--Archie Andrews (newcomer K. J. Apa) has been bulked up, explained away with a summer job working for his father's construction company. In the books, Fred Andrews (Luke Perry, ex-Beverly Hills 90210), as memory serves, ran a hardware store, so a business upgrade isn't the problem. What is a problem for Archie is that, in addition to the eternal juggling of long time girlfriends Betty Cooper & Veronica Lodge, you add not Cheryl Blossom, but rather teacher Geraldine Grundy, rebooted from a senior-age English teacher to a 30-something music teacher who's not above a forbidden relationship with a student.

The ripped-from-past-headlines (i.e. Mary Kay Letorneau) after dark encounter between Archie and Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel) in the latter's VW bug was a turn-off. Did they really need to go there?

*---Archie's parents are separated, although mother Mary (Molly Ringwald) will show up soon. Likewise, Veronica's parents aren't together, as papa Hiram (not yet cast) is facing criminal charges, forcing Hermoine and the family butler, Hubert Smithers, to raise Veronica. The Lodges won't have the mansion from the books, it appears.

*---Betty's mom, Alice, for some reason, has Betty on a prescription for Adderall. Another case of WTF? for this show.

*---The season-long storyline centers on the murder of Jason Blossom, and is the reason for comparisons to David Lynch's 1990's soap, Twin Peaks.

*---Josie McCoy, lead singer of Josie & the Pussycats, has, as previously reported, been rebooted as an African-American with a diva attitude.

Bearing in mind that Aguirre-Sacasa killed off Jason in the pages of Afterlife With Archie, that suggests that Aguirre-Sacasa didn't have any plans for him at all, and rebooted Jason & Cheryl as Riverdale students instead of attending Pembrooke Academy as in the books, although at one point Cheryl actually attended Riverdale, which is what Aguirre-Sacasa decided to go with.

Here's a trailer:

So not digging this at all. I wonder, though, if it was too hot for Fox, to whom the series was originally pitched three years ago.

Rating: D+.

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