Saturday, January 28, 2017

My Childhood Memories Rearranged

Back when I was a Littlefoot, one of my favorite TV cartoons was based on the Archie comics series.  There were several versions of the show, including The Archie Show and The Archie Comedy Hour.  Each show included the adventures of the title character Archie Andrews and his friends Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Jughead Jones, all of whom were teenagers living a town named Riverdale.  Betty and Veronica were rivals for Archie's affections, but still managed to be each other's best friend.  These five characters formed a band called The Archies, who performed a song during each episode, with Jughead's dog Hot Dog acting as a conductor.  (In reality, The Archies were singer Ron Dante and whoever backed him up in the studio.  They had a huge hit with Sugar Sugar.)  Occasionally, we got to watch other teenage characters such as Ethel and Moose, and adult characters such as Mr. Weatherby (the principal of Riverdale High) and Ms. Grundy (a teacher).  Of the parents of the above-mentioned teenagers, the only one I can recall seeing was Veronica's father.

The latest reworking of the Archie franchise is the live-action drama Riverdale, which introduces plot elements that would undoubtedly not be allowed in a children's cartoon, along with some other less controversial changes.  According to various reviews of the show, the opener includes the mysterious death of a teenage classmate of Archie and his friends, and a tryst between Archie and Ms. Grundy, who instead of being an old spinster as in the comics and the cartoons, is a young hottie.  (In real life, such behavior often lands the teacher in jail.)  Veronica is the new girl in town, her father having been sent to prison.  Archie and Jughead are former best friends, having had a falling out at some point in the show's past.  Moose is a closet homosexual, while Betty's best friend is the openly gay Kevin Keller (who was introduced in an earlier reworking of the Archieverse).  The all-female band Josie and Pussycats, who had their own cartoon show way back when, are now all black, which in the cartoon was true for just one of them.  Unlike in the Archies cartoons, we get to see some of the teenagers' parents other than Mr. Lodge, such as Archie's father and Betty's mother, who shares her name with a certain rock singer.  In contrast to all these changes, the new show is faithful to the old cartoon in at least two ways.  Archie is still an aspiring musician, and Betty and Veronica still compete for his affections, while getting along well with each other.

Read more at The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.  The show gets favorable reviews in Deadline and The Verge.

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