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Breaking Down The Riverdale Trailer: Archie, Murder, and “Teen Peaks”

In spite of a tragic death, Archie heroically makes time for girls.
By  · Published on December 23rd, 2016

In spite of a tragic death, Archie heroically makes time for girls.

The extended trailer for the CW’s gritty live-action Archie drama Riverdale dropped yesterday and IT WAS A LOT.


Set in the present day, we follow the characters of the beloved comics as they enter their sophomore year, grappling with the trappings of being a teen, and “the recent, tragic death of high school golden boy Jason Blossom.”

In more ways than one, the trailer feels like a high-budget satire of what a subversive Archie adaptation might look like; full of smolder, severity, and improbably attractive teens.

no, no don’t dial it back.

For those decrying Riverdale’s (sexy, sexy) heresy, a look at the executive producers might put you at ease. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa – who’s also writing for the show – is Archie Comics’ Chief Creative Officer. Aguirre-Sacasa is joined by Greg Berlanti, head of the CW’s DC Comics roster, Warner Bros exec Sarah Schechter, and Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater.

The first episode screened at this year’s San Diego Comic con, where Aguirre-Sacasa had this to say:

It’s definitely Archie, but a little darker, a little more complex, and a little weirder than you might remember from the digest you bought at the supermarket…we’re saying it’s a little bit like Archie meets Twin Peaks.

Oh. OH.

There’s a precedent for a spookier, weirder Riverdale in the Archie-verse with Archie’s Weird Mysteries, and from the sound of it the showrunners are aiming for a hazy, surreal small town drama with Heavenly Creatures and Virgin Suicides vibes. Also, knowing the CW, there’ll be no shortage of hyperbolic teen romance. Reassuringly, Schrecter is on record that, unlike Twin Peaks, Riverdale “will solve the mystery this season.”

If that sounds like your bag, than rejoice. For those less convinced, perhaps skeptical of what such a tonal and narrative shift can offer, here’s a breakdown of the extended trailer:

0:00–0:08: “Welcome to a town…where everything is perfect”…and you can make out against Vancouver scenery that telegraphs impending murder.

o:08–0:12: “But nothing…is as it seems:” Jason being wrapped in plastic would have been too on the nose, huh?

0:15: Aqua police are using a grappling hook to retrieve, what, the body? Evidence? There’s got to be a better way.

0:16: Archie has forgotten that it’s good form to button your shirt up at a funeral/crime scene (it’s unclear). Also hi Luke Perry as Archie’s dad! The Dawson’s Creek vibes weren’t strong enough! (Molly Ringwald plays his mom because of course she does).

0:17–0:19: Cole Sprouse’s Jughead (you read that correctly), and Betty are upset. Also hi Mädchen Amick as Betty’s mom! The Twin Peaks vibes weren’t strong enough!

0:20–0:022: “Every corpse has a tale to tell and this one has the touch of evil.” Okay, so Jason was shot right between his perfectly tweezed eyebrows. How did that happen? Also, you might be thinking: huh “touch of evil” is a weird thing that no one says – and you would be right! All the announced episode titles are callbacks to classics films (mostly noirs): The River’s Edge, A Touch of Evil, Body Double, The Last Picture Show, and The Lost Weekend.

0:22–0:24: Archie running shirtless qua Archie running shirtless.

If anything, I’m mad that I’m not mad at the beanie.
0:24–0:27: Jughead happens upon Archie’s student-teacher relationship with his music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel) because that sentence makes sense. This is followed by Archie and Betty bumping uglies (I think) in A DISARMINGLY BEAUTIFUL CAR. It’s no jalopy, but I will let it slide.

0:27–0:33: Archie breaks up with the teacher and takes both Betty and Veronica to prom. Betty asks Archie, historic fuckboy, if he loves her.

0:35–0:41: Veronica appears, and stiltedly title-drops both Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood like her life depends on it.

0:41Madelaine Petsch’s malicious Cheryl Blossom is pitch perfect.

0:43: For whatever inconceivable reason, Jughead is brooding over a miniature model of Riverdale (did he build it?).

0:43–0:45: “Did you and Donnie Darko kill him together?” Okay, well Archie and Jughead are suspects, apparently.

0:55–0:58: I need you to understand how confusing this is: we jump from “this whole car is a crime scene,” to Casey Cott’s Kevin Keller saying “no fingerprints” in a different time/location. CW is not! making! this easy!

1:01– Archie is performing at the “75th Annual Riverdale High Variety Show,” which is cute considering Riverdale’s tie-in to Archie’s 75th anniversary.

1:03: Barb? Oh my god BARB (Shannon Purser, she’s playing Ethel Muggs).

Riverdale’s pilot is set to premiere January 26th at 9pm on the CW.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.