‘Riverdale’ Returns On This Week’s Geeky TV

Back when Riverdale was just a logline circulating the trades, it was easy to scoff at the show. OK, sure, Archie but, like, serious. Will Jughead join a gang or something? But the melodramatic take on the Archie books, which returns this Wednesday at 8pm on the CW, has had two advantages: It knew exactly what it wanted to be, and also what it refused to be.

The show has undeniably taken some bizarre turns, like throwing a Betty-obsessed homicidal vigilante into the mix and the entirety of the deeply screwed up Blossom family in season one. And some moves fall flat: Come on, why are we supposed to take “jingle jangle” seriously when it’s delivered in Pixy Stix? But Riverdale has also refused to be a live-action cartoon. Everybody we spend meaningful time with turns out to have hidden depths, even if they fit into a high school cliche at first. The adults are just as compelling as the kids, in part because the show knowingly casts primetime soap veterans like Luke Perry and Madchen Amick.

And where this show picks up, with Betty’s discovery of just who the Black Hood was, Jughead rapidly becoming the leader of a gang, and Archie and Veronica back together, it promises to be a hell of a back half. Just nobody give Betty a gun.

This Week’s Other Geeky TV

Supergirl, Monday, Jan, 15th 8pm ET, The CW, Midseason Premiere: Yes, the Girl of Steel is back, and she’s got the entire Legion of Superheroes with her.

The Flash, Tuesday, Jan. 16th, 8pm ET, The CW, Midseason Premiere: Barry is on trial for murder, but considering how deliberately comedic this season has been, we’re going to bet this trial doesn’t last long.

Black Lightning, Tuesday, Jan. 16th, 8pm ET, The CW, Series Premiere: Black Lightning, educator, Olympian, superhero, finally comes to live action in his own series separate from the larger CW DCverse. We’ll see how long that lasts, considering Supergirl is supposedly in the same boat.

The X-Files, Thursday, Jan. 17th, 8pm ET, Fox: How they’re going to top last week’s episode, which had the unexpected return of a certain beloved castmember, we don’t know, but we can’t wait.

Arrow, Thursday, Jan. 18th, 9pm ET, The CW, Midseason Premiere: So Ollie’s driven away almost the entire team, and he’s being spied on by a team of supervillains, but surely that’s not going to blow up in his face right?

Agents Of SHIELD, Friday, Jan. 19th, 9pm ET, ABC: You have to love how completely this show has committed to its genre shift. You’d think it’d been in space all along.

Star Trek Discovery, Sunday, Jan. 21st, 8:30pm ET, CBS All Access: So, is there a way being in the Mirror Universe could be more emotionally devastating for Michael Burnham at this point? Like maybe there’s a beloved childhood pet the show wants to ignite in front of her?