Are You Going to Visit Riverdale?
The Archie Comics-inspired Riverdale TV series debuts this Thursday, January 26, at 9 Eastern/8 Central on The CW.
Unlike how most people think of the comics, it’s not a goofy comedy about a guy tripping over things while trying to date two girls. It’s being heavily compared to Twin Peaks, with a strong noir flavor. The “Moment” trailer, in which Cheryl Blossom vows to avenge the death of her twin Jason, doesn’t look like the comics at all… but very much like an angsty teen drama, which is the niche The CW excels in.
The “Stranger” trailer hits hard on sex and secrets.
While the longer “Perfect Town” trailer shows more of the characters.
The episode names reflect the new mood, all being movies with noir or murder connections: “The River’s Edge”, “A Touch of Evil”, and “Body Double”. That mood continues in this set of promotional pictures released (via ICv2).
The show is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the publisher’s chief creative officer and writer of the horror-themed Afterlife With Archie comic. He’s been quoted as saying, “We’ve been doing the one thing Archie comics had never done, which is sexualizing the characters.” They wanted to make it “modern”, reflecting “today’s society”, but that seems to go further than the towns I’ve known. But then, I’m old, and not the target market. They’ve tried to do more faithful adaptations in the past (as KC talks about in his recent Westfield column), but they didn’t take, so perhaps a new approach is needed.
I kind of wish they’d cast a real redhead, since KJ Apa as Archie has to dye his normally dark brown hair, and it looks a bit fake to me in the pictures I’ve seen. That’s a minor point, though, compared to how he’s sleeping with Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel), who’s now a) much younger and b) his music teacher.
I’ll be checking it out, but I hope the characters are distinctive enough to be memorable. The only one I’m interested in seeing more of so far is Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch). Betty is Lili Reinhart, Veronica is Camila Mendes, and Jughead, now reporter for the school paper, is Cole Sprouse. Also featured are Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) — all three of the Pussycats are now African-American — and Kevin Keller (Casey Cott).
I’m actually more interested in who’s playing the parental generation, with Luke Perry as Archie’s dad Fred, Molly Ringwald (!) as mom Mary, Mädchen Amick (who was actually on Twin Peaks) as Betty’s mother Alice, and Marisol Nichols as Veronica’s parent Hermione Lodge. But where’s Hiram?
The Entertainment Weekly review (not available online) compliments the show for being about reinvention, “impishly meta”, an “earnest and subversive” pastiche. Although “it struggles for original identity”, they think it “mostly succeeds”, which makes me more interested.