“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



Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 47 – Birds of a Feather – Can Penguin Reform?


“Birds of a Feather,” is the best of the Penguincentric episodes. In this one we are faced with the situation of if Penguin can reform. The premise is he has just gotten out of prison and finds that his old haunts are empty and the rogues are gone. Veronica, a high society person and her brother take and interest in the Penguin and began courting him in order to make their parties more popular…what isn’t expected is the shadow of love.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Penguin – The Penguin really owns this episode. We see how eccentric he is and how closely he holds his victories over others (and that he he a high society bully). We see his loneliness with the rogues gone and his hope when Veronica begins to court him. He even has given up being a criminal and protects her up until he finds out she was using him the entire time with her brother. His story is tragic, and fittingly it ends in a battle in the Opera House.

Veronica – Starts out as a starlet sociopath but gets to the point where she sees past the Penguin’s looks and just wants to be his friend. The sad part is, she never stood up for Penguin to her servant Pierce and that is what ends everything…since it was when Pierce reveals the original plan that it all comes crashing down in the battle of the Opera House.

Batman/Bruce Wayne – This is an episode where we see Bruce Wayne warning Veronica and her brother and being willing to give Penguin a second chance after he realizes that the Penguin had been protecting Veronica, not working with the thieves…the same deal when he sees the gift that Penguin bought and how set the Penguin is on love. Sadly at the end he no longer is reasoning with the Penguin like Veronica tries…which I wish would have happened.

The music – Has the high society feel and fits the Penguin perfectly.

Okay – Pierce – Isn’t memorable. He’s just there to be a rich jerk who cares for his mistress.

I highly recommend this episode. It is a great exploration of the Penguin and gives us a glimpse of the culture that he wanted to be a part of…but at the end abandons when he realizes all they want to do is use him.

Final score is 9 / 10.