Tag Archives: Mystery Shows

“Riverdale” Season 1 – A Quality Noir Inspired by Archie Comics

  “Riverdale” is one of the best shows on the CW. This is a show that manages to adapt comic book characters in really creative ways and give them depth and nuance as well as tell an all around fun mystery that is explored over the course of the season. “Archie Comics” comics are comics that I read at different points growing up but I haven’t read the modern stuff, though I’ve heard good things. If it is anything like this show I think I would enjoy the modern stories immensely. Suffice to say, this is the best thing to come out of the CW in some time that isn’t an ongoing show.

The series was created by the creative director of “Archie Comics” Robert Aguirre-Sacasa and producer Greg Berlanti.

The story involves the mystery surrounding the murder of Jason Blossom as the the town of Riverdale reels from the death as secrets are revealed and the characters must find themselves as their own problems and drama begins to consume them.

The Pros: The Premise – I’m a fan of Noirs as the story is narrated by Jughead, one of the main characters who is writing the story of the murder and what unfolds as secrets about himself and his friends are revealed as the mystery is solved.

Riverdale – The location of a small town that is full of dying industries where everyone knows everyone and murder has to be solved is compelling. I like stories like this. It was what made “Broadchuch” interesting and it is the kind of location that breeds interesting drama and characters in stories like this.

The Characters – The characters the best part as we get characters who are multi-faceted. Archie is a player but great at empathy and connecting with others and does grow up, Betty is a perfectionist whose flaws consume her, Veronica is selfish but ends up being one of the most selfless and by contrast Jughead is presented as selfless and an idealist but is also quite selfish and consumed by his own ego. All our characters are contradictions and grow up, even the minor characters are shown to have many layers and it makes the show powerful. I cared about most of the characters in this, which is not something I can say about every show.

The Search for Self – The search for self is a huge theme of the show. Whether it is the Blossom legacy that consumes Cheryl Blossom while facing her own family’s dark present and actions, Archie facing his blue collar background, divorce and love of music that arose out of an affair but the love and passion for music is still there and Betty and Veronica…like Cheryl finding an identity outside of the expectations and corruption of their parents (same goes for Jughead too). This is powerful and the beginnings of these explorations are laid out.

Facing Trauma – Another theme is the theme of trauma as all our characters have experienced it at some point and it is only in opening up and honestly facing it that they have the chance to heal. All our main characters are at different levels of facing this trauma so I’m curious to see where Season 2 takes this given actions happen at the end that will increase it for 2 of our characters.

The Cons: The Love Triangle – I hated the love triangle between Betty, Veronica and Archie. I get it was in the comics but it is the weakest part of this series. I’m glad that we only real deal with it at the beginning and end of the series. Outside of that, I want more character exploration not stupid love triangles that usually only exist for cheap drama.

“Riverdale” is a series I’d highly recommend. It is intelligent and reminds me what I loved about reading the comics. This is a show that captures what it means finding yourself as you grow up and facing the contradictions within yourself. People aren’t simple and are almost always complicated and so much of that is facing the different parts of who we are. “Riverdale” does that with the characters of it’s show and I highly recommend it to both fans of the comics and any fan of good drama and characters.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

 

 

Murder, She Wrote – Season 1, Episodes 1-2 – “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes” – Characters Work But Plot is Only Okay

The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

     “Murder, She Wrote,” is a fascinating show that I may watch more of after seeing the two episodes of the pilot. It went in unexpected directions and played out like a good mystery story…and Angela Lansbury is just fantastic. The theme song is very grading though and I did have issue with the lack of development some of the characters received, even if the main cast is pretty solid.

   “The Murder of Sherlock Holmes” was directed by Corey Allen and written by Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson and William Link.

    The story involves Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) becoming a famous mystery novelist when her nephew Grady (Michael Horton) publishes her work. When she leaves the countryside she finds the city is not for her but finds herself pulled into a mystery when her nephew is suspected of murder at a costume party.

The Pros: The Costume Party – All the different people Preston Giles know come to his home dressed as characters and it is the murder of one of them dressed as Sherlock Holmes (when Captain Caleb was dressed as Holmes) leading to an exploration of motivations and mistaken identity.

Jessica Fletcher – Angela Lansbury is wonderful as the old lady Jessica who has her novel sent into a publisher by her nephew, which pulls her out of her small town into the big city. It is here we see how out of place she is when isn’t solving murders. It is in solving murders that she is in her element, which in turn makes sense into how the show got it’s name and premise.

Preston Giles – This character is really interesting as he did murder the detective when the detective tried to blackmail him. He played the Count of Monte Cristo at the Costume Party and we learn that his drive has been revenge like the count as his past business partner left him for dead after ruining his life and he spent his life ending them and in the process became them as he became a murder to hide up the revenge he did against them. He’s a tragic and fascinating figure.

Okay: Grady and Kit – They are the allies and are kind and open and that’s about it. There isn’t much character yet, they are just there to give Jessica a motivation.

The Cons: Captain Caleb – The guy is just a loud buffoon and cheater. I was hoping we’d see him do something good with his business but he never is explored beyond his own selfishness, which is a shame.

The Detective – Guy is introduced as sketch so when he dies no one is really missing him, there is just more surprise that a murder happened in the first place.

Ashley and George – These two were the ones stealing from Captain Caleb and are shown to both be stuck up jerks. What chance at character they were given was only made to make them look worse than they already were.

 The Theme Music – The theme music gets annoying really fast. It goes on way too long and is far too happy and upbeat for a show that involves murder and a whole bunch of other aspects of the bad side of humanity. The theme music creates a major tonal dissodance.

This was a good introduction to this show and I might review some more episodes in the future if people request the show. I like Angela Lansbury and find the Jessica Fletcher character fascinating. Sadly I think better writing is needed for the supporting cast, Kit and Grady are ciphers and the villains are all one-dimensional with the exception of Preston Giles. A lot more could have been done with the 2 hours the show was allotted to tell the story. I still think it is worth checking out though, for what it is worth.

Final Score: 7.4 / 10