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Saturday, January 28, 2017

PILOT REVIEW: Riverdale

RIVERDALE











Starring: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Marisol Nichols, Madelaine Petsch, Ashleigh Murray, with Madchen Amick, and Luke Perry

Based on the Archie Comics Characters
Developed by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger

In a very unusual re-imagining of the Archie comics, Riverdale is a throwback to the sudsy yet moody teen CW shows of earlier this decade. The characters of the legendary comics have been put in a contemporary high school setting fresh off a mysterious summer death of a classmate and brother of queen bee Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). Archie (KJ Apa) knows something about the death but was in a compromising situation and can't reveal anything. His longtime friend is Betty (Lili Reinhart), who has a secret crush on him. Throwing a wrench into things is the arrival of Veronica (Camila Mendes), who befriends Betty but also has a complicated family history in Riverdale. Rounding out the main cast is narrator Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Josie (Ashleigh Murray), who leads the girl band Josie and the Pussycats.

This was an interesting concept for the show and I'm not really sure about the wisdom in it because Archie Comics are not really a cultural thing anymore though they once were. Yet, this show is targeting a teen/young adult audience who probably have no idea what the comic is. I'm sure it's what got this pilot sold, but I wish they had just decided to write a good teen mystery show without having to wrap it in the Archie Comics conceit.

That being said, I did enjoy the pilot, even if it was a bit on the melodramatic side, and I thought the performances were pretty solid throughout. In particular, I enjoyed Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes and the dynamic between them. They are polar opposites and I enjoyed them as friends and enemies, and we saw both in the pilot. I wasn't quite as sold on KJ Apa as Archie as he seemed to be focused on being brooding for most of the pilot without a lot of character development. I'm sure we'll see more of Josie and Jughead but there wasn't much of them in the pilot. The murder mystery and set-up for future episodes left the pilot in an intriguing place even if there have been many shows with this type of storyline. Perhaps the one good thing about it being connected to the Archie Comics is it might be more easily able to have more storylines once the murder mystery is solved.

This show isn't really targeted to me and I'm not sure that I'll actually stick with it in the long run but it made me interested enough to see another episode thanks to the acting mainly. I still am not quite sure who's going to actually be the audience for this show. It's certainly a teen drama trying to appeal to fans of a show like Pretty Little Liars while using characters that would appeal to the parents of fans of shows like Liars. We'll see if it can find a niche.

WILL I WATCH IT AGAIN?
I'm going to give it at least one more episode.

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