NBooth

Riverdale

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This is a real thing.

For comparison, this is a [not neccessarily safe for work] parody thing from a few years ago:

Indiewire:

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As a new school year begins, the town of Riverdale is reeling from the recent, tragic death of high school golden boy Jason Blossom — and nothing feels the same… Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is still the all-American teen, but the summer’s events made him realize that he wants to pursue a career in music — not follow in his dad’s footsteps — despite the sudden end of his forbidden relationship with Riverdale’s young music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel). Which means Archie doesn’t have anyone who will mentor him — certainly not singer Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), who is only focused on her band, the soon-to-be-world-famous Pussycats.

It’s all weighing heavily on Archie’s mind — as is his fractured friendship with budding writer and fellow classmate Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse). Meanwhile, girl-next-door Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) is anxious to see her crush Archie after being away all summer, but she’s not quite ready to reveal her true feelings to him. And Betty’s nerves — which are hardly soothed by her overbearing mother Alice (Mädchen Amick) aren’t the only thing holding her back.

When a new student, Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), arrives in town from New York with her mother Hermione (Marisol Nichols), there’s an undeniable spark between her and Archie, even though Veronica doesn’t want to risk her new friendship with Betty by making a play for Archie. And then there’s Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)… Riverdale’s Queen Bee is happy to stir up trouble amongst Archie, Betty, and Veronica, but Cheryl is keeping secrets of her own. What, exactly, is she hiding about the mysterious death of her twin brother, Jason? Riverdale may look like a quiet, sleepy town, but there are dangers in the shadows…

Link to our thread on the Archie vs. Zombies movie.

Shannon Purser (Barb from Stranger Things) is playing Big Ethel.

I don't see any way this could be good, particularly after that trailer, but it intersects with a number of my interests (small town stuff; nostalgia; murder-mystery; etc), so I'll be checking it out anyway.

Edited by NBooth

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Somehow I missed this review at BMD back when it first came out.

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Of course, "dark and gritty update of Archie" sounds like something of a joke premise, but there's no denying Riverdale's appeal for a certain mindset: the series was described to me as "Dawson's Creek meets Twin Peaks," and those are, no question, two of my favorite series of all time, so Riverdale is very specifically my bag. Whether it's yours, or anyone else's, remains to be seen. This show feels niche. 

The Twin Peaks influences are most compelling: in style, color, tone, score and even plot, the Riverdale pilot brings to mind the first episode of Twin Peaks with great clarity. Riverdale is a tiny, stylish community with eye-catching landmarks: The Bijou theater, MLJ comics shop (a nod to MLJ Magazines, the company that founded Archie Comics), Pop Tate's Chok’lit Shoppe, a retro diner lifted directly from the pages of the comics. Everything looks atmospheric and alluring; the colors are cool blues and greys interspersed with bright pops of color. And, in a manner deliberately reminiscent of Twin Peaks, a dead body even washes ashore in the first hour of the series. 

[snip]

There's a lot of sex in this new world, stuff that will doubtlessly earn the most controversy, ire or scorn of anything in the series. Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel) is a hot, young teacher, and she and Archie are both trying to move on from an ill-advised affair over the summer. Betty and Veronica kiss in one scene that kind of makes sense for the plot, Moose (Cody Kearsley) is a closet case getting some down-low Kevin Keller action. Betty and Archie are both introduced in shirtless scenes; Betty's on Adderall. People are going to be annoyed. As a dyed-in-the-wool lover of trashy teen television (and a legitimate childhood fan of Archie Comics!), I loved it.

Edited by NBooth

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Couldn't Archie at least be a natural redhead? That dye job just looks...bad.

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On 1/4/2017 at 7:24 PM, BethR said:

Couldn't Archie at least be a natural redhead? That dye job just looks...bad.

It's certainly off. I kind of assumed it was part of the fact that all the colors look a bit wrong, here (the dye job looks even worse in set pics etc).

Meanwhile, here's another short trailer.

 

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The Twin Peaks influences are most compelling: in style, color, tone, score and even plot, the Riverdale pilot brings to mind the first episode of Twin Peaks with great clarity. Riverdale is a tiny, stylish community with eye-catching landmarks: The Bijou theater, MLJ comics shop (a nod to MLJ Magazines, the company that founded Archie Comics), Pop Tate's Chok’lit Shoppe, a retro diner lifted directly from the pages of the comics. Everything looks atmospheric and alluring; the colors are cool blues and greys interspersed with bright pops of color. And, in a manner deliberately reminiscent of Twin Peaks, a dead body even washes ashore in the first hour of the series. 

 

I see the Twin Peaks influence. I'm especially of reminded of it because  Mädchen Amick play's Betty's mother and the role I personally always associate her with his Shelly Johnson. In fact in the second episode, there's a scene that shifts from Betty and her mother to Veronica's mother working in a diner as a waitress in one of those retro waitress outfits.

 

Quote

There's a lot of sex in this new world, stuff that will doubtlessly earn the most controversy, ire or scorn of anything in the series. Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel) is a hot, young teacher, and she and Archie are both trying to move on from an ill-advised affair over the summer. Betty and Veronica kiss in one scene that kind of makes sense for the plot, Moose (Cody Kearsley) is a closet case getting some down-low Kevin Keller action. Betty and Archie are both introduced in shirtless scenes; Betty's on Adderall. People are going to be annoyed. As a dyed-in-the-wool lover of trashy teen television (and a legitimate childhood fan of Archie Comics!), I loved it.

 

This is true and disappointing. Unnecessary and exploitative.

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I finally watched the first episode. I'm pretty sure it's not good, but I'm really loving it for its pure flashy/trashiness. It's definitely the Betty and Veronica show, though.

In some ways, though, this feels like what would happen if you took all small-town fiction in American history and boiled it for weeks before serving up the concentrate. Then again, I've been living with this stuff for a couple of years now, so everything seems hyper-referential.

Edited by NBooth

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Renewed

 

I'm not a bit mad about that. 

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I rewatched the first half of the show this weekend and I'm now comfortable saying not only that I like RIVERDALE quite a lot but that it's also quite a good show. It's bonkers, but in the best possible way. 

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Given that the role I always associate Mädchen E. Amick with is Shelly Johnson on Twin Peaks, it's kind of weird now seeing her play a mother on Riverdale, another teenage mystery-drama set in a small town.

 

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1 hour ago, winter shaker said:

Given that the role I always associate Mädchen E. Amick with is Shelly Johnson on Twin Peaks, it's kind of weird now seeing her play a mother on Riverdale, another teenage mystery-drama set in a small town.

I've been listening to the Welcome to Riverdale podcast and they're open about the fact that casting Amick was very deliberate. 

Interestingly enough, according to the showrunner, this show wasn't originally supposed to be a mystery show. It started as a coming-of-age movie (to be directed, iirc, by the guy behind The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and only turned into a murder mystery about the time they were shopping the series to Fox. Then again, the showrunner is also the brain behind Afterlife with Archieso the decision makes a certain amount of sense. 

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Ross Butler (Reggie) is leaving the show. This is, to my knowledge, the second re-cast (Dilton is played by different actors in the pilot and in subsequent appearances). It's a shame, because Butler brings a tremendous amount of charm to what could have been a one-note character. Given how good the show has been at casting, I guess we should expect them to find a suitable replacement--but I'm still disappointed.

Related: this seems related to the second season of 13 Reasons Why, which I haven't seen but which has had people in my timeline running around in a tizzy. So I guess I should see it.

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Posted (edited)

As promised, they revealed the killer (though not the motive) last night. All the plottiness made me really wish the showrunners had spent more time with some characters (Kevin Keller and his boyfriend, who become important to resolving important points here) instead of others (ahem. Grundy). But the resolution to the central mystery does hinge on some of my favorite [un]hinged bits of the show, so I'm going to call it even.

 

So Cliff Blossom killed his son, for reasons unrevealed (though it probably has to do with the fact that the Blossom Maple Syrup Empire is actually a Blossom Heroin Empire). And the Coopers are really Blossoms, which means that Riverdale edged as close as it could to actually transgressive incest without actually going there (I'm actually kind of on Cliff's side here--third cousins isn't really all that close, though in Riverdale it might be). What's interesting here is that incest is a dominant theme in small-town fiction going back to Kings Row (published around the time the first Archie comic premiered), at least (and, of course, Peyton Place and Twin Peaks). Again, Riverdale is basically recapitulating 75+ years worth of small town literature. The difference here is that it's not incestuous rape, as it was in those previous examples--and it's unclear at this point how much Jason knew, but Polly had no idea. Which pushes this whole thing closer to, what, Oedipus territory. Or something like those German twins from a while back. And, of course, the location--the structure of the small town itself--creates this incest (Metalious is partly arguing in Peyton Place that small towns are innately incestuous, so Riverdale is, again, harking back to an older model). So--lots to chew on for folks who like the small-town narrative.

I should note that these original authors attributing incest to the small town--Henry Bellamann and Grace Metalious and--I suspect, though I'm only 450 or so pages into It, Stephen King--all come from small-town backgrounds. So there's something going on here besides Big City Folk talking about stuff they don't understand. See also Faulkner--the threat of incest in Absalom, Absalom! is at least as prominent as the idea of racial mingling. And, of course, there's The Sound and the Fury.... All of which is to say that this is a very old thematic concern of people who were, in some cases (Bellamann, particularly) working out their own ambiguities and anxieties about small-town America (and, therefore, of America itself, though I don't yet have thoughts on how/why incest should be a foundational symbol for the American imagination).

Cf. Bates Motel, which is also about a small town whose economy is based on illicit drugs. Bates Motel toyed with the incestuous undertones of the Norma-Norman relationship but was never quite able to pull the trigger.

I liked this episode a lot, fwiw. There were several points where I laughed out loud, both during the episode and afterward while remembering them. This show is just--so tasty. And the performances are so engaging (Lili Reinhart gives amazing reaction-shots).

One episode to go.

EDIT: For the Black Mirror fans hereabout, the episode has a small reference to the episode "San Junipero." I saw some people at The AV Club talking about it, and the official Riverdale podcast confirms that it's deliberate. 

Edited by NBooth

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Posted (edited)

Mild Spoilers

And that's it for season 1. The Jason Blossom plot is resolved and a new mystery is set up (in a way that will be familiar to viewers of Twin Peaks, actually). Betty got to give a Big Speech about how Riverdale Is Everyone In It, which works well enough on a couple of levels. A couple of things didn't happen that were expected--no incursion of the supernatural (so, no Sabrina, no hints of an Afterlife with Archie twist), no Archie-Betty angst (although it looks like Betty and Jughead are in for a time of it).

So yeah. I think this has been a legitimately good season of television. Not brilliant, mind, but if you like certain sorts of things (small-town fiction, teen melodrama, melodrama in general), it's a tasty confection of a show. And I know I've used "tasty" more than once, but that's pretty much the best way I can describe it. There's no real Big Ideas here--the show's a bit like Archie himself, in that way: pretty and sweet, but a bit dumb. I enjoyed the heck out of it and will definitely be keeping an eye out for season 2.

EDIT: I just discovered that the first three episodes of this season, as well as the finale, were directed by Lee Toland Krieger, who directed The Age of Adaline (link to our thread).

Edited by NBooth

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