Clearly, this is not the Archie you might remember from the comics of your misspent youth — that bland guy with carrot-colored hair and a tic-tac-toe grid at the temples who dithered about whether to date rich Veronica or not-so-rich Betty and whose best friend was Jughead, with a famous ability to consume mass quantities of hamburgers.
The CW series (8 p.m. Wednesdays) is definitely a different spin. Not only is there murder and mayhem, but the elderly teacher Miss Grundy is now a hot young music teacher who hooked up with Archie (in what would be classified as statutory rape due to his age of about 15) and then was strangled to death by the Black Hood, who used the very cello bowstring that Archie gave her.
This fall’s premiere drew 2.3 million viewers (twice as many as viewed the Season 1 finale). The first season’s addition to Netflix is credited for drawing in a bevy of youthful viewers.
The show itself is an entertaining mashup. It wittily references its comic book ancestor (Betty rocks the world’s most iconic ponytail and last season Jughead finally ate a hamburger). It’s got dark and shadowy atmospherics a la “Twin Peaks” (seriously, does anyone in Riverdale own a lightbulb?). And there’s plenty of suspense as the teens track down the killer with “Homeland”-like intensity.
Then there’s the dating game. Right now, Archie is with Veronica and her omnipresent pearl necklace, and Betty and Jughead are a thing — although he’s crushing on classmate Toni Topaz. So the show is a bit of a soap opera. Yet no one can say “Riverdale” is not highbrow. By which I mean that Archie, portrayed by K.J. Apa, has the most impressive eyebrows in televisiondom. As Apa put it on Twitter: “My eyebrows are the verandas of my face.”
Read more of Marc’s TV musings: