By Salvador Gutierrez:
This year, the most iconic comic strip franchise of Americana jumped to the small screen to captivate a new generation of teenagers. With a refreshed version of the characters and a ‘the-producer-is-a-big-fan-of-Twin-Peaks’ plot, “Riverdale” became one of the most popular TV/Netflix shows of the year among millennials and other nostalgic X, Y and Z generations, as well as parents who enjoyed the “Archie and Friends” adventures in the past.
The CW is known for its clichéd plots and cheesy special effects, but it can’t be denied that CW’s shows are very popular and somehow interesting. The network’s vast repertoire of successful long-lasting shows includes “Gossip Girl,” “Supernatural,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Smallville,” “The Flash” and most recently “Riverdale.”
The first episode of the show aired Jan. 26, 2017, but it wasn’t until July that I finally had the time to watch it. Since the day the reboot of the comic was announced for TV, I had some curiosity and doubts about this contemporary version of the beloved characters delivered by Archie comics for 70 years.
You never know what to expect when an iconic movie or show is remade for a new audiences. Sometimes they turn to be everything except what they used to be; they lose their essence – like “Herbie the Love Bug” and “90210.” Sometimes they turn to be better, such as “MadMax: Fury Road,” released in 2015.
The only TV adaptation of Archie in the past was “The Archie Show” of 1968 and it was very similar to its printed counterpart. This year, “Riverdale” – the 2017 Archie Show for millennials – is more like a “Gossip Girl” moves to “Twin Peaks” and joins the “Glee” club.
At first, the story feels original and fresh, but three episodes into the first season made me realize that I was watching a mix of all the TV shows for teenagers that have ever existed. Not that this characteristic is anything to worry about; actually, it seems to be the main goal of the show and is well accomplished. Just like “Stranger Things,” “Riverdale” combines the plot, character development, production style and even framing of other shows and movies about teen angst.
I had the opportunity to read some of the Archie comics when I was younger and I have to say that most of the characters have kept their essence, but the changes are significant.
In this adaptation, Veronica Lodge is Latina and she moves to Riverdale with her mother and not with Hiram Lodge. We don’t even get to see him on screen.
Instead, she moves to the little town with her mother, Hermione Lodge, and, based on the names of her parents, I don’t know where her Hispanic heritage comes from. Hiram and Hermione are not names used in Latin-America, and Lodge is not a Latino last name. I’m Latino, I know about that stuff. Anyway, Veronica Lodge remains a rich kid who spends her time shopping and gossiping to relieve the stress of high school.
Jughead Jones is not the funny, asexual and always hungry guy from the comics. In this emo version, Juggy is a teenager struggling with a dysfunctional family and the fact that no one cares about him in high school. He is somehow similar to John Bender from “The Breakfast Club,” but with the talent to be a journalist. The characteristic crown worn by the character in the comics is replaced by a whoopee cap and the character is played by Cole Sprouse from “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”
Betty Jones and Archie Andrews are the only characters in the show that remain the same as their comic versions. Betty is still the blond, perfect girl next door of the comics. Archie is a good boy always trying to do the right thing. There is just a slight change to Archie – he has a six-pack.
Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, but around the sixth and seventh episodes, the story turns boring and some plot lines feel unnecessary.
If you decide to skip episodes 9, 10 and 11, you won’t miss anything important. The show ends with episode 12, when all the subplots conclude and the question that started the show is answered, “Who killed Jason Blossom?” An extra epilogue episode serves a cliffhanger for the next season.
I will give four out of five stars to the first season. The trailer for the second season is already on YouTube. I don’t know what to expect from this next season; however, based on the first season’s cliffhanger conclusion, I suspect we will see the same plot repeated, but this time the question will be, “Who killed Archie’s dad?”