Monday, January 30, 2017

Pilot Review: Riverdale

Riverdale (The CW)
Premiered January 26 at 9pm

I don’t think I’ve ever actually sat down to read a full issue of Archie. I remember my cousins having it when I was growing up, but I always tended towards Marvel Comics and the various X-Men series. It took me at least half of this episode to realize what the characters’ names were and draw from that tiny place in the back of my brain where I had stored the information that Archie, Betty, and Veronica were coming to TV in a regular live-action series. I just thought that this was the CW’s latest attempt at a successful young adult mystery series. This show feels a lot like a lot of the programming that I don’t watch rather than the six series on the network that I do regularly watch – a number much higher than I ever thought it would be. A lot of this pilot has to do with introducing its staple characters in a creative way, adding drama with the recent death that turns out to be a murder, inserting Archie into a love triangle that also includes his secret affair with a teacher, and setting the whole thing in high school to boot, which makes everything considerably more scandalous and petty. The only actor I recognized was Luke Perry, though it turns out that there are two other established adults in the cast, Madchen Amick from “Twin Peaks” and Marisol Nichols from a number of series including “24.” There’s also Cole Sprouse, one of the twins who played Ben on “Friends,” as Jughead. This show is soapy and actually relatively entertaining, but it’s something I need to start watching.

How will it work as a series? Our narrator has already given hints about what’s going to happen, like “the first arrest would be made,” which means that most of the drama is going to be previewed and anticipated on this show. That doesn’t allow it to be too creative, but this show literally has hundreds of issue from which to draw inspiration, and I think it fits the older teenage target audience for this network well.
How long will it last? The ratings weren’t all that spectacular, but the reviews have been pretty strong. This feels like exactly the kind of show that the CW wants to have as one of its flagship series, and so I suspect that the network is going to give it a renewal soon, joining all the rest of its shows it recently announced would be back next season.

Pilot grade: B-

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