Riverdale TV Review: The first three episodes
I waited to review the new Archie Comics television series Riverdale until I had the chance to watch at least three episodes to give myself a good solid foundation to base my impressions upon. After the third episode I am pleased to say that while the show does have some small issues, overall it exceeded both my own expectations as well as my wife’s. Taking what we know of the Archie universe and viewing it through a dark and steamy filter, the show retains enough of the characters to strike a familiar cord while also making them all damaged goods in some way.
Casting of the characters was spot on. From the core trio of Archie, Betty and Veronica right down to supporting characters like Josie, Midge and Dalton just about every character feels right. They were not afraid to mix things up in casting as well; Principle Weatherbee and Pop Tate are now African-American, Reggie is of Asian decent, and Moose may be gay or bi at the least. If you feel strongly against any of those changes then the show may not be for you, every character has a dark side; even usually wholesome Archie and Betty.
The main storyline for the first season is the death of Jason Blossom, at first believed to be a tragic accident and then revealed that it was in fact a murder. Each of the first three episodes contain a twist and the Jughead narration gives the viewer notice that things are often not what they appear. The first two episodes were strong and hooked my wife into the show and she is a casual Archie fan at best. The third episode was not quite as good, the scorebook storyline felt like it should have taken a few episodes to be resolved rather then a one-and-done. Of course it is hard to come down too much on an episode that features both Betty and Veronica in a hot tub scene, even one that ends with a WTF moment about Bettys mental state.
There is a nice contrast between hints of darkness such as what happened to Polly Cooper and the status of Hiram Lodge as well as the more in your face ones like Archie’s sexual relationship with a teacher, Cheryl Blossoms motivations and some of the downright horrible behavior of various characters parents. There has been some shocking moments so far, which I will not spoil for you, but this is a show that really needs potential viewers to give it a try. Rating have come in at the lower end for a CW show and while they have been holding steady I am hopeful for a rating bump after people discover it via On-Demand. If the rumors of what the rest of the season have in store are true then it is a show that has a chance to become a cult icon, but if only it can last long enough.
Thursday at 9pm on the CW Network