WARNING!! SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 OF RIVERDALE
We’ve seen this before haven’t we? Come on try. Think long and hard on this one. For fans of the DC tv universe, CW-verse or as it’s become known now, the “Berlanti-verse”. Not that he bares every responsibility and risks on all projects or that these comic shows are his only works till date (see Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim & Everwood, Dawson’s Creek) but they all have a very similar pattern.
Greg Berlanti is a crazy talented man for him to be involved with comic-book shows that will always be under the radar in case of any inaccuracy from fans and followers of the source material since the dawn of time. Honestly though, if you ask any follower of TV shows whether comic lovers or not, who Berlanti is, your best answer would probably be “oh that comic guy” “the one that brought Arrow and The Flash on the small screen?” “Doesn’t he take his casts from Glee?” “Oh he was the one with Gustin and Benoist in that photo shoot?” Some of these may be far from the truth.
Now when Riverdale was announced last year, most of the main cast were unknown, some even made their debuts safe for Cole Sprouse of course fresh out of graduating from college. To say Cole Sprouse was the main attraction to the series or the reason most people were even a bit invested in it won’t be overstating the gist and hype that followed the news at the time but something else caught viewers attraction. Greg Berlanti again was the name at the top of the list and it was yet another comic book show on the CW. Mind you, this was in a year were Supergirl successfully moved to the CW from CBS (why it was there in the first place is anyone’s guess) accompanied with the announcement that her cousin would make one of his numerous debuts when the second season premiers. The man (Berlanti) is a hard worker.
It’s why he and his crew deserve all the praise Riverdale is getting because he manages to accurately get all the characters down to their last fault and dynamics as friends, rivals and families. Even their parents as well and if he didn’t? he puts a nice spin to them. Chuck Clayton for instance never draws but his arc made for entertaining drama. Reggie Mantle was played to perfection albeit briefly by Ross Butler (who had to exit the show most likely for his involvement on 13 Reasons Why) is another example of how brilliant the cast is.
K.J. Apa excels in Archie’s boy scout’s nature, while Camila Mendes (Veronica) and Lili Reinhart (Betty) get the rivalry thing going for Archie at first but become the best friends we’ve known in the comic’s now 75year plus history and maybe even off-screen. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) finally eats a burger in the finale, Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) is masterful, Moose Mason is picked straight from the source….errr physically at least and even Dilton Doiley gets to shine a bit. It’s just wonderful. It might seem like nothing but when you see how Arrow has made great DC characters like Black Canary and Ra’s Al Ghul look over the years or Iris’ clear lack of any emotional attraction towards Barry compared to Archie’s own with B & V…….I’ll stop here and head to my point.
Riverdale Season 1 was a revelation, one of the best shows this year and definitely the best on the CW (comic book wise). It’s dark style, visuals and dialogue is effectively put to use and engulfs you in such a manner that not only do you want the next episode as quickly as the next, but you’re interested in seeing how these characters grow. It’s become an addiction for some. I can bet you neither Reinhart nor Mendes had close to 500k followers on Instagram before Riverdale aired but now it’s over a million. The characters were very key to the show’s success, the plot came in second. Not that the plot was bad in any way. It’s just, you see many murder mysteries and then there’s just so many murder mysteries but it was wonderfully executed.
The twist(s) in the penultimate episode that the Cooper’s are in fact Blossoms and that Clifford Blossom killed his own son which started the whole thing was handled expertly and Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) is an excellent actress. From her mean days to being good, slapping Jughead in the cafeteria, burning her house down, her “bow down b*tches” entrance to her brother’s wake when she was somehow not invited by her parents; everything she touched turned to maple syrup.
Betty and Jughead’s relationship didn’t just stem from CW’s penchant to fix relationships by all means necessary. For the uninitiated they date in the comics or dated. It starts out with Betty wanting Archie but through her and Jughead’s involvement with Jason Blossom’s murder, they form an attachment and a beautiful one at that. Theirs is more natural. Opposites attract as Jughead sadly pointed out during their fight at his birthday party he never wanted.
I was glad Archie and “Miss Grundy’s” relationship came to halt as quickly as it begun because ugh…just no. This is one that felt forced for the sake of drama, a twist that really left no impact in the long-term and makes you wonder the point, if any of ageing a character down a couple of decades just to make it less disgusting. It didn’t.
Of all the parents, Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) impressed me the most with her authoritative approach to everything and will to defend what is hers. She might show a crazy side to her like Betty does at times but that’s just her and with her on board for the Twin Peaks revival I hope it doesn’t affect her involvement for the second season.
The problems with child and parent in the series and how they deal with them is classic Archie and if Josie’s dad can be angry at his daughter not playing Jazz you know for certain no parent-child relationship is safe. If there’s one gripe I have with the show is that despite it being 13 episodes, it’s not a Netflix show so I could binge it each year and also at the beginning of the finale after Clifford Blossom hung himself from the previous episode, Jughead narrating as he had done all season said “it was the ultimate cliff hanger…Clifford Blossom had
killed hung himself”……such a missed opportunity.
Now yet another CW comic show run by Greg Berlanti has made an excellent first season debut. I remember how brilliant Arrow‘s first season was and even the second managed to be better, then came Flashs’ cameo and then his own series in 2014 was just too good Excluding Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow (will explain later), the Berlanti-verse have a second season syndrome and in the case of Arrow and The Flash beyond that.
Season 3 of Arrow was an eye-sore, with the plot of the aforementioned Ra’s Al Ghul not meaningful enough and then a borrowed arc from Batman Begins not helping matters. Add that to the fact that there was the most cringe-worthy wedding between Al sah him (lmao) and Nyssa and you have the makings of 23episodes of serialised brain torture in the form of entertainment. Then came season 4 with the promise of Neal McDonough added to the cast and the addition of Matt Ryan’s Constantine though for one episode. It had optimism written over it. But then the forced Olicity romance and yet another drab storyline with needless flashbacks and everything was wrecked. Even the voice of Vixen from the CW seed made an appearance as herself and it still wasn’t good enough. The fifth season of Arrow is a marked improvement though, but some episodes and moments are forgettable and some of the supporting casts aren’t helping at all.
Amazing how The Flash got this bad that a musical this season is, for me at least, the best episode of the season. The show in season 1 had one of the best, well-rounded stories a series could offer in 2014. Not many shows were better; certainly not many comic-book shows. The cast was perfect. Then it went downhill from there. The whole “mystery villain of the year” got old as soon as it was clear Wells was the villain. Zoom was good as Zoom. Then he became Jay Garrick…then he wasn’t. Season 3’s villain Savitar took until the last three episodes to become relevant and even at that, the reveal of who he was under his Decepticon armour was anti-climatic. Then the fact the show can’t seem to let Tom Cavanagh go is another problem. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D had this same problem with Brett Dalton but rectified it somewhat this season.
Legends of Tomorrow‘s problem is in reverse as season 1 became desperately hopeless when the threesome with Hawkgirl, Hawkman & a terrible representation of Vandall Savage seemed to go on forever. But season two was a notable improvement as the Legion of Doom was aided by the Reverse Flash, Damien Darhk & fan favourite Malcolm Merlyn.
The only comic show on the CW Berlanti hasn’t been involved in is doing massively well among critics and fans and more importantly, has shown a level of consistency lacking from its colleagues. iZombie. Recently renewed for the fourth time. Maybe Berlanti could take the approach and reduce the number of episodes of Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash?
So with Fred Andrews getting shot at Pops and Hiram Lodge to most likely make his live debut next season, things are shaping up well for Riverdale but it would be wise to apply caution to your expectations because it may follow a similar pattern.