(Editor’s note: this show only has aired 2 episodes at the time of my writing this article, as always I will try to avoid spoiling things)
Adapting a comic, any comic, to the small screen, or big screen for that matter can be a challenge. This is especially true when you try to take an iconic group of characters. First you need to decide which target audience you want to go for and that will ultimately determine the look and feel of the final product. There are times when the material makes it easier for the creator, take Sin City as an example. Gritty, violent and full of “adult themes”, odds were good that you could easily expect what you were going to get. Then you have comic properties that are a bit more difficult. Josie and the Pussy cats was critically panned and fans weren’t impressed. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of “Preacher” on Amazon despite it being a comic that I really like. Now the CW are to bringing the world of Archie to life in the new series “Riverdale”.
A Winning Pedigree
I first heard about Riverdale when Kevin Smith mentioned it on his “Fatman on Batman” podcast. He was directing an episode of the “Flash” or “Supergirl” and said in passing that he’d met the cast of Riverdale as they were all filming on the same sound stages. A bit of quick research told me that Berlanti Production, the company behind Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and the upcoming Booster Gold is also the ones making Riverdale. If you’re a fan of any of these shows it should give you a bit of an idea as to the look and tone that Riverdale has. The CW has done an amazing job as far back as the Smallville days of taking superhero properties and tweaking them to appeal to a more “millennial” audience. So far in two episodes of Riverdale they’ve certainly done this.
More than meets the eye
As the title of this article would lead you to believe this isn’t the same Riverdale that we’ve seen in comics since 1939. That’s not to say that the characters aren’t all there, because they most certainly are. Archie Andrews is, of course, our main character. He’s trying to do it all, play varsity football as a sophomore, work for his dad and pursue his newly found dream of becoming a musician. Betty Cooper is the pure “goody two shoes” next door neighbor of Archie that loves him. Veronica Lodge is Betty’s “polar opposite” best friend who’s also now caught Archie’s eye since moving to Riverdale. Kevin Keller is ever present as the gay best friend of Betty and son of the local sheriff. Then we have our narrator “Jughead” who is seemingly chronicling all the events in Riverdale for a novel. Everyone is there, including Josie and the Pussycats, but seemingly everyone has a secret. The show even kicks off with a mysterious death. This looks like it is going to continue to play out throughout the first season, but who knows.
Keeping in mind that we’re only two episodes into the first season, it is a bit difficult to really give much in terms of thoughts aside from my first impressions. To me, Riverdale has a sort of Veronica Mars meets generic teen drama feel to it. That’s not to say that I don’t like Riverdale, actually quite the opposite, though I’m not sure that I’m their target audience. I like the darker tone of the show, I like how they’ve made the characters sound and act more in line with how they would if they were living in 2017. They could have gone full on 1950’s or just made the characters sound hokey (I’m looking at you Scooby-Doo films) but they didn’t. I like the drama/mystery aspect of the show, but I’m not sure if this is something that will hold an audience for more than one season. Jughead as the narrator is a very nice touch. Veronica makes a reference to Truman Capote in one of the episodes and I can kind of see Jughead’s character having a bit of that feel to him.
I mentioned that I don’t really know if I’m the target audience for Riverdale, and I think that’s probably true given the glut of other superhero based shows on the CW. Does that mean that there isn’t still something for me? No, actually Riverdale has become a must watch for me, and not just something that I can watch passively, but rather a show that I want to give my full concentration to. Will it keep me engaged? Only time will tell, right now I have absolutely no idea where this story is going and that is more than enough to keep me coming back from week to week. They have more or less a clean slate with Riverdale, in that they don’t really have to use anything from the comics, with the exception of basic character details, as a guideline. So far I’d honestly say that if they changed the names of the characters this could have easily worked as a stand alone series. Which in my opinion is a very good thing.
That’s it from my side. Are you watching Riverdale? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Image from http://www.cwtv.com