December 9, 2018

Riverdale on Netflix and the CW

Veronica, Betty & Archie on the CW’s Riverdale

Riverdale, originally conceived as a movie, took life instead as a tv series on the CW produced by CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Based on the Archie Comics, the main characters would be familiar to anyone who has ever read the iconic comic strip or one of the Archie comic books.

KJ Apa, a New Zealander who won the worldwide contest to play the red-headed Archie is amazing, as is Lili Reinhart embodying the blonde ponytailed Betty, the raven-haired Veronica brought to life by Camila Mendes and Cole Sprouse as the endearing loner, hat-wearing Jughead Jones.

The episodes are far darker than any comic book story line, however, with murder, teacher-student sexual relationships, teen pregnancy, drug-dealing, gang activity and financial skullduggery being essential points in the over-arching plot.

The script makes references to news events both current and past. When a teacher is suspected of seducing a student, someone calls it going “Mary Kay Letourneau.” Veronica’s father is a Bernie Madoff-type character who is doing prison time for ripping off investors.

Indeed, the dialogue has much in common with the Gilmore Girls for mentions of cultural trivia in whip smart banter, but that is where the comparison ends.

The cinematography, lighting and general tone are darker than midnight. The villains are over-the-top with mean comments that make no bones about their selfishness, vindictiveness and ill intent. This is not cinema vérité, but stylized soap opera and horror.

The notorious Blossom family on Riverdale

As an additional blast from the past, veteran actors with main and recurring roles are Luke Perry (90210), Robin Givens (Head of the Class), Skeet Ulrich (Jericho , Law & Order: LA) and Mädchen Amick (Twin Peaks).

Riverdale might be the series for fans of the Archie comic books, or parents who want to share a CW show with their kids. Just be prepared for some interesting discussions about thorny topics.

Season One is available for streaming on Netflix. Season Two is currently being broadcast Wednesdays on the CW network.

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