Wow, where to start? I guess at the beginning right, ok. This is a story of the town of Riverdale, where the murder of the star football player Jason Blossom destroys the charm of a place where bad things never happen.
Oh, and it’s based on the cult American comic series Archie and friends -so nothing to live up to there then…
This show never had to worry though, it had me right from the start. Being someone with only cursory knowledge of the Archie series, it was easy enough to ‘cotton on’ to who the characters were and the feeling of Riverdale, which doesn’t always make for easy watching. It wasn’t what I was expecting, far from the cutie high school tome I thought it would be, Riverdale is edgy and dark. Like, Twin Peaks dark.
In fact, the script, characters, camera shots and lighting all have the eerie Twin Peaks tinge to them. This is not a criticism by the way, for it’s this slightly ‘off’ feel that drew me in deeper and deeper. The mystery starts off running and only becomes more enthralling as the it continues.
The main characters of Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica are all played to pretty much perfection and it’s the surprise casting of Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones that really had me hooked. As the narrator of the series, his offbeat humour and film noir take on the world was on point. Sprouse managed to take this outcast ‘weirdo’ of a teen and give him depths I didn’t see coming. Similar can be said for Lili Reinhart’s depiction of Betty, a pretty much unknown actress who hasdisplayed the full range of emotions as the ‘perfect girl next door. However, deep down Bettys hiding demons that resonate, at least with me. I feel like important issues are being raised with her character, and I’m glad this show is trying to address them-albeit subtly for now.
KJ Apa plays the titular Archie and whilst this character lacks the emotional depth of his friends, you need this wholesomeness to counterbalance the darkness spreading across the town. Archie is the hero that Riverdale needs, and sometimes being that hero means sacrificing the juicer storylines in order to keep the peace. The same can be said to some extent for the new girl in town Veronica Lodge, portrayed by another newcomer to our screens, Camila Mendes. Fresh off NYC’s social scene, Veronica takes Riverdale by storm. Sassy and loaded with an underlying current of guilt and insecurity, Veronica channels characters like Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girls fame, but puts her own twist on the knife.
The rest of the cast equals when it comes to talent and in some cases, serious acting chops. For example, the Twin Peaks vibes only intensify when you’re introduced to Mama Cooper aka MadchenAmick or Shelly Johnson (if you know who I mean..) Same can be said for Luke Perry of 90210 fame, back as Archie’s mild mannered father who’s been around the block a few times with scars to prove it. Special mention must also go to Madelaine Petsch who takes on the role of Cheryl,an almost too intense redhead who manages to bag some of the best scenes going. That girls got dramatic reading down to a tee…
Over the season, as the mystery of who killed Jason unfolds so do some of the other secrets that Riverdale holds. Broken with moments of pure love and hilarity you know there is so much more to this sleepy town than its quaint exterior lets you see.
Something wicked this way comes and boy, does it get nasty.
5*- Archie and his friends got your back, same can’t be said for the rest of em’…