Like the new Archie comic series penned by Mark Waid, The CW’s Riverdale gives the 77-year-old characters a modern makeover. They’re all accounted for: Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Cheryl and Jason Blossom Madelaine Petsch and Trevor Stine), Reggie Mantle (Ross Butler), and Moose Mason (Cody Kearsley). Except gone is the klutzy ginger and in his place, six-pack abs on a soulful crooner who has not one, not two, but three women ready to risk it all.
After a summer apart, Archie and Betty reunite before the first day of school with very different agendas. Encouraged by her friend Kevin Keller (also from the comics and played by Casey Cott), Betty is ready to tell Archie she wants to be more than friends. Archie wants to pursue his newfound passion for music and the music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel), who had a steamy with over the summer. He’s also intrigued by Veronica, whose mother returns to her hometown amid her husband’s legal troubles.
Another great comic book series in the new, modern Archie universe is Betty & Veronica by Adam Hughes. It pulled me in because Betty and Veronica begin as friends and though they have a falling out by the end of the first issue, it isn’t over Archie. Riverdale seemed to be on that same refreshing path when Veronica chose not to unleash her catty superpowers on Betty, but direct them at the Riverdale High’s alpha female, Cheryl Blossom, who, by the way, deserves it. Veronica is believable when she says she views Riverdale as a fresh start and a chance to shed her bad reputation, but by episode’s end she locks lips with Archie.
Teenage love triangles are par for the course in a show like Riverdale, especially given the source material. Yet, there was hope that they’d avoid that one cliché and offer up something different. For instance, they managed to race bend the roles of Josie and the Pussycats. Josie (Ashleigh Murray), Melody (Asha Bromfield), and Val (Hayley Law) are all black and so is Pop Tate (Alvin Sanders), lovable owner of the iconic local diner with some curiously late hours.
Still, Riverdale has made it abundantly clear it has no interest in being the comic book on the small screen. Besides the statutory rape (Seriously, how old is Archie?), things got all Twin Peaks when a member of the student body is found floating in the lake with a bullet in his head. Thanks to Jughead’s novel-in-progress, we know an arrest soon follows.
"Chapter One: The River's Edge"
(KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Cheryl and Jason Blossom Madelaine Petsch and Trevor Stine), Reggie Mantle (Ross Butler), and Moose Mason (Cody Kearsley).