Review by C.J. Bunce
Viewers know in the first ten minutes of Riverdale that the show is going to be a winner. Archie Comics has had 75 years to perfect its ageless story of a guy, two gals, and a bunch of friends living in Everytown, USA. Not many comic book series are so good to successfully draw in fans year after year for so long. With The CW’s drama Riverdale, you’ll wonder why it took so long to bring these characters to television. The series may also give the Twin Peaks reboot some competition this year.
World building is still a requirement for a TV pilot–the writers can’t assume we all knew each character and where they fit in. So it’s impressive most of what viewers need to know is delivered before the first commercial break. By the end of the pilot episode, one of the age-old questions is answered, too, at least temporarily: Is Archie Andrews (played by a perfectly cast K.J. Apa) going to go after sweet and innocent Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) or seductive and fiery Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes)?
Jughead (Cole Sprouse) serves as narrator for the first episode, a loner documenting the summer’s big event: death in a small town, via laptop at his table at the all-night burger joint. But it’s new girl Veronica that we follow through town via a path similar to Buffy Summers looking to find a friend or two in the pilot to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Veronica befriends Betty and the chemistry is instantaneous. Appropriately distracted Archie is almost a third wheel. We’re immediately in Veronica’s corner after she punches the head cheerleader in the face with a perfectly delivered, dressing-down, and we’re equally cheering for Betty to get all the good that she deserves.