I was among the skeptics when it came to Riverdale, which returned to the CW last week on Wednesdays at 8 pm. Sure, Archie Comics had done some remarkable work in the comics, both in the bizarre (Afterlife With Archie, with Archie fighting zombies) and the more restrained (Life With Archie, which follows two different timelines where Archie chooses Betty or Veronica and the whole gang grows up). But how would this entire gag strip cast work in a CW soap?
Remarkably, it turns out. The first season was both a teen soap and a sort of interrogation of them, where every character, even the shallowest, had more going on beneath the surface. The second season has upped the ante with vigilante gangs, crime families, undercover spying, and, in the midseason premiere, a breather episode that was a tribute to horror movies with our four teens besieged in a remote cabin even as their relationships either strengthen or begin to fall apart. And now they’re back to their normal lives; you know, spying on Riverdale’s mob while being torn between their loyalties, and while a vigilante lurks at the edges. Oh, and they’re all still in high school.
Riverdale is undeniably at a higher, more absurd pitch, part of a trend of shows like Gotham and 9-1-1 that have stepped away from peak TV’s gritty realism in favor of operatic plots and soapy plotlines. But it creates such a vivid atmosphere and works so hard to earn that sense of the bizarre that you can’t look away.
This Week’s Geeky TV
Legends of Tomorrow, Monday, March 12th, 8 pm ET, The CW: Can we just say we’re really glad Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is on this show? And also that if Rip thinks he can hide a dark secret from this team, man, he’s dumb?
iZombie, Monday, March 12th, 9 pm ET, The CW: Liv eats the brain of a “hopeless romantic,” so kiss any chance of a drama-free relationship goodbye, rest of the cast.
The Flash, Tuesday, March 13th, 8 pm ET, The CW: Iris gets Barry’s powers and probably his complete inability to understand why you don’t mess with the time stream.
Black Lightning, Tuesday March 13th 9 pm ET, The CW: After last week’s surprisingly death-heavy episode, Jefferson Pierce looks for both absolution and proof of his innocence.
The X-Files, Thursday, March 15th, 8 pm ET, Fox: An insane cult is stealing organs, so, you know, typical Thursday for Mulder and Scully.
Agents Of SHIELD, Friday, March 9th, 9 pm ET, ABC: Fitz and Simmons are finally tying the knot, although a discovery of their potential future last week may be putting the brakes ever so slightly on the nuptials.