What do you get when you mix old school comic book characters, give them the drama of a show like ‘Pretty Little Liars’ with a touch of ‘Twin Peaks’ and bring them into the 21st century?
‘Riverdale’ that’s what. Loosely based on the beloved ‘Archie’ comic book series that so many of us devoured as kids, Riverdale takes the happy go lucky Archie, his sardonic best friend Jughead, the all-American girl Betty and the rich, snobby Veronica and drops them in the middle of a murder mystery. Jason Blossom, brother of Cherry Blossom, has been viciously killed and suspects and weird events abound in Riverdale High.
It’s true that if you haven’t checked in with what’s been happening in the Archie Comics world you’d be hard pressed to see the similarities between the new TV show and the breezy and funny comics of your youth, but the truth is there have been various bizarre spin-offs in the Archie world and the series actually does a decent job of keeping the core characteristics of the kids intact while also twisting relationships and pasts and exploring changes that would make the gang more interesting.
KJ Apa’s Archie Andrews is still trying to juggle all the aspects of his life, from school to football to his love life. Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper is sweet and helpful, while Camila Mendes is not quite the spoilt Veronica Lodge in the comics, but is hampered by the fact that her father has run into the law because of shady money practices and is actually friendly.
Archie and Jughead are not quite the untouchable BFFS they used to be and Jughead himself, played by Cole Sprouse, is a fan favourite as the sarcastic truth finder in a beanie. Ashleigh Murray is there as Josie (from Josie and the Pussycats) and Ross Butler and Cody Kearsley turn up as Reggie Mantle and Moose Mason respectively, but there’s no Midge in this series.
The most controversial change so far is Mrs.Grundy – no longer a grumpy old spinster who nevertheless was often on the gang’s side especially against the principal of Riverdale High, Mr. Weatherbee.
Instead, Sarah Habel plays a sensual temptress who has a relationship with Archie at one point which is something that many fans feel was weird. Still, the mixing up of the characters gives the world of Archie a massive makeover and Archie who grew up with the series might like the updated teenage aesthetic of the new show.
Of course, it doesn’t really matter if you liked the comics or not – the show is intriguing nonetheless. Following the formula of any teen show – love triangles, hidden truths, adults that can’t be trusted and of course, the odd murder or two that’s been a macabre staple of teen shows as of late, the series is sure to captivate anyone who likes some creepy and drama-heavy stories in their lives.
The story is engrossing, if sometimes exaggerated and the acting is intense, as is expected from a show with an uncanny bent. While rarely reaching thriller-like levels, the series can be suspenseful and exciting and with only half the season done, the small town mystery that’s brewing in ‘Riverdale’ will hopefully get better and better with each episode.