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'Riverdale' Review: Archie Comics Comes of Age as Moody CW Drama


★★★★☆ (4/5)

"Chapter One: The River’s Edge"
Season 1, Episode 1

Archie Comics has reinvented itself on the page and now has done it for the small screen. 'Riverdale' introduces a whole new audience to Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead in a "Mean Girls" meets "Twin Peaks" kind of way and it works perfectly. 

Besides publishing the wholesome hijinks of the Riverdale kids in their classic style, Archie Comics also rebooted various titles with a more modern spin that kept it fun but with a contemporary approach. They also experimented with a horror line that brings the zombie apocalypse to town in "Afterlife with Archie" and dark magic in "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."Two legitimately suspenseful books without an ounce of irony. These reimaginings of characters that span over 75 years paved the way for the CW drama that debuted Thursday. 

Archie Comics writer and Chief Creative Officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, is executive producer and writer for the show and responsible for opening the world of Archie with his "Afterlife with Archie" comic series. He does it again by taking the outline of the Archie Comics mythos and totally remixes it for today. 

Betty Cooper (Lilli Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) still make up the legendary love triangle but with some new wrinkles. Betty's in love with the oblivious Archie (now with abs!) who's smitten with new-in-town Veronica, who's a reformed bad girl looking for redemption. Archie was busy during the summer working for his dad Fred (90s icon, 'Beverly Hills 90210' alum Luke Perry) and having a tryst with teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel). So right away, this is not the Riverdale we remember from our youth. 

The mystery in question revolves around the mysterious death of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) whose twin sister Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is left devasted but doesn't diminish her alpha mean girl persona. The vibe is definitely from "Twin Peaks" complete with an ominous voice-over from outcast Jughead (Cole Sprouse). The script includes plenty of pop culture references and often meta but avoids corniness. The cast is great and diverse. 

Casey Kott as the openly gay Kevin Keller is a scene stealer. Ross Butler personifies the chauvinistic Reggie Mantle and the all-black Josie and the Pussycats band (Ashleigh Murray, Hayley Law, Asha Bromfield) shine but appears only briefly. It's a stuffed hour of drama and introductions but the show mostly balances it all well with intrigue and soapy goodness. 

'Riverdale' fits right in at the CW, maintaining the moody angst of the network's dramas full of tortured sexy people. The reinvention of the Archie Comics kids can't help but draw from teen series of the past or the tropes of spooky mysterious dramas either. It's as much an homage to those shows as it is a coming-out-party for these characters in 2017. Strap yourself in on Thursdays for an addictive and devilish good time.  

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