I’ve read a few issues of the beloved Archie comic book series when I was a kid. I’ve watched a number of its filmic incarnations. I’m not its biggest fan, but boy did I love the characters and the shenanigans they would encounter.
Riverdale is not the Archie I grew up patronizing. However, it is the CW show I fawned over in my youth.
In recent years, the CW has changed from being the teen-centric network it used to be, to the paranormal-obsessed, novel and comic book adapters it is now.Most of its programming nowadays involve comic book superheroes, translated for the small screen. It’s all part of their rebranding. The only exceptions to this rule are Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin, two shows that bank on wit and humor.
Riverdale banks on what the classic CW teen shows like The O.C., One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl were all about.
ADOLESCENCE! HIGH SCHOOL! FAMILY! TIGHT-KNIT COMMUNITIES! And — last but not the least! — DRAMA! Lots and lots of it, with a splash of mystery to reel in even more interest, and completely set it apart from the Archie comic book series.
Let’s now look at what I thought was an amazing pilot episode.
The episode began with the establishment of the main mystery of the season, the death of Cheryl Blossom’s twin brother, Jason. The opening sequence does well in setting up the latest version of Riverdale. It’s a small town, and there’s so much more to it than what meets the eye.
The episode then went on to introduce us the latest interpretations of our beloved Archie characters. There’s the main three – Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, and Veronica Lodge.
Veronica walks into Riverdale with her dethroned, socialite mother after her father gets into legal trouble. Betty comes back to town from an internship, yearning for the affection of her best friend, the boy-next-door, Archie. And Archie? Well, he’s got a lot on his plate.
In less than an hour, the Riverdale pilot was able to establish so well these three main characters. We were able to delve into who they were, their parents, and how they interact with one another. It was quite a doozy. We were served a story with such an organic narrative that twist after twist hit us straight in our faces, but it felt right.
Archie has a complicated relationship with his music teacher. Veronica easily finds a friend in Betty Cooper. And Betty? I don’t know, but it was her plight that hit me the hardest. Maybe because it rings home. An unrequited love for her best friend? It’s always a tearjerker.
Although the episode started with a narrator, the narrator doesn’t reveal himself until toward the end of the hour. The funnyman we’ve come to know in the comics is now a brooding writer in the latest interpretation of Archie. Jughead Jones sits in the diner at night, writing down his novel based on their town and the death of Jason Blossom.
I don’t know about you guys, but I am already hooked. I don’t know what to feel about the student-teacher relationship just yet (it’s nothing new, but still) but I’ll get there. I can’t wait for the next episode.