(Image Credit Katie Yu, The CW Network)
My first full-time gig after graduating from college was managing a movie multi-plex. That experience in itself is truly worthy of a blog post or two down the road but for now I just want to extract one moment in time. I’m standing in the lobby near our ticket-taking usher one winter afternoon when a patron comes out from one of the theatres and says, “Geez, could you turn the heat up in there? It’s freezing.”
Neither the usher nor I moved off our spots.
Precisely one minute later a second patron comes out of the same theatre and says, “Hey, could you turn back the heat in there? It’s a furnace.”
We’re all different. People are unique.
One person’s “hot” is often another person’s “cold.”
My mind occasionally drifts in the direction of this moment whenever I set out to offer opinions in highly subjective areas most often followed by the word “critic.” Food…Music…Book…Film…TV.
We each know what we like; we all know what we don’t like.
There are a ton of choices out there. We can’t possibly take in everything people recommend we consume. Choices have to be made regarding trying new experiences based on preconceived notions.
Yet, allow me to tell you about one choice you might want to sample…even if your first inclination upon hearing what it is leaves you more inclined to move off this spot.
Last Thursday evening the CW raised the curtain on their new show Riverdale.
A couple bullet points to get us started:
- The main characters are drawn from the world of the iconic Archie comic strip.
- This series has already been compared to several others including Twin Peaks, Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.
Still here? Good.
I thought some of you might have taken off upon hearing this show references a comic strip almost 80 years old.
I thought others might have departed upon hearing those other show references.
Look, it would be v-e-r-y easy to dismiss Riverdale as just another youth-centric CW show. The stars are all attractive and look at least a tad older than the high school students they’re portraying. There is all sorts of teen angst hovering in the air within the small town’s borders…and a very dead body floating between the banks of the small town’s river.
(Image Credit Diyah Pera, The CW Network)
But the debut episode really clicked with me. An awful lot was stuffed into the opening hour. It was witty. It introduced intriguing characters within a visually stylish setting. You could cut the atmosphere in that town with a knife. There’s way more than just one mystery to be solved. And it was so…self-aware.
The creators took all the stereotypes you could potentially pin on this show before giving it a look and got them “dealt with” in the pilot. The attitude I came away with of the writing was…”Here’s what you thought you’d see…but now that THAT’s out of the way…”
Some observations from others:
“Pilot episodes are difficult enough as an entry point but ones that truly capture the world of a series – almost instantly – are even harder to come by. And Riverdale does that here, keeping true to its source material but with a twist.”
LaToya Ferguson, A.V. Club
“Dares are about attitude, not aptitude. They’re about taking a ridiculous challenge and going with it, not necessarily how well you execute. The CW’s new drama series Riverdale is a crazed dare of a TV show and while it may defy conventional qualitative norms when it comes to things like narrative coherence and character consistency, it is utterly committed to the strange thing it’s doing.”
Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter
“As predictable or artificial as the show can seem, when you take stock of it – even in its dark themes and situations – it is vital and inviting, fundamentally true to its characters and hard to put down.”
Robert Lloyd, L.A. Times
Riverdale in fact is the sum of all trends: franchise extension, comic-book adaptation, theory-baiting crypto serial, edgy Y.A. romance and densely ironic deconstruction. Riverdale is keenly aware of this: coded within its solidly satisfying juvie pulp is a sly spoof of itself and the business of reinvention.”
Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly
A final observation…someone directly associated with the show…Sarah Schechter, head of production for Riverdale:
“It’s not just for teenagers: it’s for people at every age because being a teenager is one of the few universal experiences we all have.”
Riverdale. I planned for a day trip but now I’m staying…to tour some more.