We got Netflix at the weekend. We’ve subscribed a couple of times before, once when it was very new and had nothing on it and the second time when Jessica Jones came out and we could watch Daredevil and Jessica Jones before cancelling within a month. We didn’t get through either series finding them a bit dull. We lasted longer with JJ than DD but apart from that amazing corridor fight scene in episode 2, it’s didn’t really do a lot for me.
Apart from watching some of the ‘Must See’ TV – A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Expanse, Stranger Things, Dirk Gently, I spotted a series called ‘Riverdale’. Being a semi-fan of Archie Comics, I said ‘hey, that’s where Josie and the Pussycats is set’ and thought no more of it.
Until I saw a couple of comments online saying that Riverdale really was the based in the Archie Comics town and Josie would probably spring up if I watched.
Now, lets get this out of the way. I am a MASSIVE Josie and the Pussycats fan. I love the comics, the 70’s TV show, the utterly glorious movie – which I maintain is the best ever comic to movie conversion – and even the recent Josie comic series. I can’t say I was overly enamoured with the recent Archie series, but in the same way that I’m more in the with the Marvel comics ‘other’ titles (Dr Strange, Warlock, the old Guardians of the Galaxy, Dracula, Inhumans, Eternals, etc) I’m more in tune with the non-regular Archie titles like Josie and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
So, yesterday I settled down to watch episode one. Intrigued but not with any real excitement. What I got was one of the most bewildering TV premieres I’ve seen probably since Twin Peaks. Like Twin Peaks, it starts with a murder mystery which is the cosiness of Riverdale seems a tad unlikely, but from there on things get weird.
This isn’t Riverdale of the classic Archie comics. Yes, it has inhabitants with the same names, but try as I might, I don’t remember an story in the comics where Archie gets ripped and boffs his music teacher in the back of a VW beetle. Nor do I remember the phrase ‘wank bank’ being used and Jughead may have been a little less wholesome than Archie, but I don’t remember him looking like he was about to commit the next High School gun massacre.
Now, I fully get that I may have rose tinted glasses on and don’t like my beloved characters mucked about with too much, but this really does seem like a step too far. The wholesomeness and cosiness is what made the comics for me. They were a quiet moment of naivete in a harsh and cynical world. Riverdale has taken the harsh and cynical route.
The only way I can watch it and enjoy it is to make believe this Riverdale and the one I have fond memories of are not connected. Throughout the first viewing, I was aghast at what they had done to the characters and how the niceness of the town had been compromised. That genuinely prevented me from enjoying it.
Today, before I watched episode 2, I watched episode 1 again, this time from that divorced position. And it actually works. It’s a strange, off-kilter world with schoolyard politics to the fore, murders taking place and sitting in diners sharing a malt with your bestest buddy. In that respect, we are back in Twin Peaks country. Riverdale, the TV version, is alive with threat in the way the comics never were and that’s what makes it so much better than most of the Teen fayre currently available. Teen Peaks, perhaps?
Colour me intrigued.
The only thing I’m very sniffy about is the appearance of Josie and The Pussycats. Josie is the girl next door and all that entails. She’s nice and will do anything for anyone – which is what gets her into most of her scrapes. She is not a puffed up bitch with no time for anything other than her ego. That was Alexandra’s job. They seem to have mixed the two characters up and that, I’m afraid, is unforgivable.
I’m about to watch episode 2. Let’s see what happens!