DAVID BIANCULLI

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RIVERDALE
January 26, 2017  | By David Bianculli

CW, 9:00 p.m. ET

 
SERIES PREMIERE: Boy, is this weird – but then again, Archie comics, on which this new CW teen series is based, always were weird anyway. When the comic-book series launched, Archie took place in some sort of semi-retro world of malt shops and letter sweaters – part Happy Days, part Pleasantville, with Archie Andrews as the all-American boy eternally torn between sweet blonde Betty and brunette vixen Veronica. For this new TV version, the malt shop and ponytails are still in vogue, but so are smartphones – and the idyllic small-town spell of this Riverdale hides a Blue Velvet vibe of sinister mystery simmering underneath. Like Twin Peaks, this new series begins with the murder of a popular high-school student, and spins out from there. How odd is this Archie reboot? So odd that Betty, played by Lili Reinhart, is her own blonde vs. brunette dichotomy: occasionally dressing up, and acting, like her wild-child dead sister, in a dual-personality twist another character refers to as “Dr. Jekyll and Mistress Hyde.” Riverdale also stars K.J. Apa as Archie, Camilla Mendes as Betty, and, as some of the town parents, former teen-TV stars from a previous generation: Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90210 and Madchen Amick from Twin Peaks. Is this new series any good? I’m not convinced – but it’s so strange, I’ll keep watching for a while. And I encourage you to do as well, at least through episode three, when brunette Betty makes her first bizarre appearance. For full reviews, see David Hinckley's All Along the Watchtower and Ed Bark's Uncle Barky's Bytes.
 
 
 
 
 
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