So I’m a big fan of altering well-known stories and characters for new approaches. It’s why I’m a fan of shows like Once Upon a Time and plays like Wicked. So when I heard CW was premiering this year a show called Riverdale based on the Archie comics, I was all in. I even wrote one of my first Take Too blogs about being excited for it (https://taketoopodcast.com/2017/01/24/preview-of-riverdale/). Well the first season finally ended last week, so I decided to write-up a spoiler free overview of how I felt about the series.
First off, this series is loosely based on the Archie comics and when I say loosely I mean WAY loosely. As in the characters have the same names, they live in Riverdale, they eat at Pop’s diner, and Jughead wears a weird crown hat. But that’s it. There is nothing similar between the bubble gum comic book which gave us the 60’s hit “Sugar, Sugar” and the mystery murder saga that is CW’s Riverdale. That doesn’t mean Riverdale isn’t any good, just don’t expect Archie to break out into singing “you are my candy girl…” throughout the series. I’m not giving anything away here to say that the whole season follows the murder of Jason Blossom, high school football star and son of the Riverdale’s most prominent family. Trying to figure out who did it and why is actually a great part of the series. They honestly keep that storyline going strong for the entire season, only letting you know the answer within the last two episodes. The twists and turns our characters go down trying to find the killer are actually all pretty well done, and I think the show did well as a series. Drawing it out through multiple episodes kept it interesting and helped build on all the main characters.
There were a few stand out stars for me too. I thoroughly enjoyed Jughead Jones, played by Cole Sprouse, as the high schooler who just didn’t quite fit into any traditional high school role. Jughead’s personal family drama and struggle stay friends with star jock Archie is really well done. Sprouse actually brought a kind of intensity to the role that I thought was nice. But new comer Camila Mendes portrayal of Veronica was by far the best part of the show. While Veronica might be known as the “bad girl” in the comics compared to wholesome girl next door Betty, Mendes brings a whole dynamic to the Veronica role that I love. She has that bad girl attitude but you can tell there is more behind her than that and it develops throughout the season. In case anyone has forgotten at this point, yes I am still talking this way about a show on the CW called Riverdale and yes, I am a grown man.
There are a few points where Riverdale does fall flat though. While the murder mystery is a great part of the show, the series had a lot of other side stories going. And I mean A LOT. Too many in my opinion. You obviously need more drama and activity going on but there would be episodes where 4 or 5 storylines would be moving forward at the same time and have nothing to do with each other. They tried to take on too much and it led to some stories falling flat to me. Seems like potential was there but some of the C and D stories just fell by the way side. Hopefully this is something they can make a little tighter in season 2. Also I think Archie, played by KJ Apa, was one of the low points of the show. As our main star maybe I just expected more from him, but his acting was often flat or sometimes felt forced. All of the other stars helped move the show along but some scenes with Apa would just stop the show dead in its tracks. Not sure if he needs more screen time or what, but I’m hoping the Archie character gets more flushed out in season 2 and Apa gets a few acting lessons over the break.
Now for the question you all care about, is Riverdale worth watching? Now that the season is over, I think it is. Especially in binge watching form. Waiting week to week for episodes was a little much for me, but when I watched 2-3 episodes in a row I tended to enjoy the show more. I even watched the last 4 episodes in one day and loved how it all played out. So I’d say over the summer, maybe during a rainy weekend or if you get a bad sunburn and have to stay inside, give Riverdale a shot. Plus be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below or on twitter @taketoopodcast.
8 still weird crown hats out of 10