Comics – Miss-Cast!

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Writer: Mike Pellowski
Pencils: Bob Bolling
Inking: Al Milgrom
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 175
Cover Date: July, 2007
Length: 6 pages

Betty and Veronica are visiting a movie studio and have all-access passes that give them free rein of the place. Veronica had invited Betty on this weekend trip to California.

As they explore the lot, Betty and Veronica wonder about some casting decisions, such as casting an actor with long hair as a bald man and making him wear a bald wig – and casting a bald actor as a long-haired man and making him wear a long-hair wig. The latter guy can barely swim and had to do a swimming scene. They also come across a scrawny actor that voice-acts as a super-hero.

Later, Mr. Lodge’s client offers Betty and Veronica bit parts in a movie. Veronica asks Mr. Lodge for permission for her and Betty to be in the movie, and he gladly grants it. Veronica is cast as a snobby, spoiled girl shopper, and Betty is cast as her nice, down-to-Earth friend. Veronica is upset about being “miscast”, but Betty amusingly thinks there is such a thing as perfect casting after all.

This is a cute story. I like it a lot better than the lead story.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Always on Our Mind

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Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Rich Koslowski
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 175
Cover Date: July, 2007
Length: 6 pages

In Miss Grundy’s class, Miss Grundy is happy that the students are concentrating on their books, but she becomes suspicious of Betty and Veronica and confronts them. They were daydreaming about Archie. Veronica even had her book upside-down. Miss Grundy thinks “I can’t blame them! Everyone daydreams!”

We then see various students’ daydreams. Jughead is daydreaming about food. Reggie is daydreaming about himself. Moose and Midge are daydreaming about each other. Cheryl is daydreaming about Betty and Veronica being blasted off from Earth in the Mars Express. Dilton is daydreaming about what appears to be electronic components. Ginger is daydreaming about clothes. Archie is daydreaming about Betty, Veronica, and three random girls. Miss Grundy is daydreaming about a tropical island, but Nancy walks up to her desk and interrupts her with a question.

Later, Nancy is daydreaming about Chuck. Chuck is daydreaming about his “Bird Man” comic book. Maria is daydreaming about Frankie. Frankie is daydreaming about a guitar.

When the bell rings, Miss Grundy wishes the class a nice weekend and to do well on the test next week. Betty decides she better re-read the story. Veronica thinks her own mind was on other things in class. Betty asks Veronica if it was a great story. Veronica embarrassingly pretends she read it and says yes. Veronica wishes Mr. Weatherbee a nice weekend, but Mr. Weatherbee is daydreaming about being a super-hero. Betty interrupts, and he says bye to them. Veronica and Betty wish each other a good weekend.

When Betty gets home, she greets her mom, but Alice is sitting in a chair, reading a romance novel, and daydreaming that the handsome hero is giving flowers to her. Betty greets her dad, but Hal is daydreaming about driving a monster truck.

When Veronica gets home, she greets her mom, but Hermione is daydreaming about becoming the first female President. Veronica greets her dad, but Hiram is daydreaming about the “NYSE Stock Exchange” (short for “New York Stock Exchange Stock Exchange”, apparently).

That night, Betty and Veronica go to bed and dream about multiple Archies jumping over a fence.

This “story” (if you can call it that) doesn’t have much to it. Basically, it’s just small glimpses into various characters’ fantasies. Most of it is nothing surprising. However, Mr. Weatherbee doesn’t strike me as a comic book fan, so his daydream is questionable.

It’s nice to see some actual businesses mentioned in an Archie comic: Dell and Ebay.

The punchline is Betty and Veronica dream about Archie at night after daydreaming about him. Archie is always on their mind (as the title suggests). However, Archie is the only thing on their minds, which isn’t healthy, and Archie daydreams about multiple girls. Can’t Betty and Veronica see their relationships with Archie are unhealthy?

This story has no real plot to it. It would have been nice to see Betty and Veronica actually taking the test, daydreaming during it, and failing. Instead, the story is made all about Archie.

The differences between the ending of this story and the front cover are Betty, Veronica, and Miss Grundy’s outfits; the color of their books; and the use of individual desks instead of tables.

For the featured story in this digest, I’m not impressed with it. This is one of the laziest stories that I’ve ever read.

I realize this is a short review, so stay tuned for a second comic review soon.

Comics – Civil Chore

Writers: Nelson Ribeiro (plot) and Fernando Ruiz (script)
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz
Inking: Bob Smith
Coloring: Adam Walmsley
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Tales From Riverdale Digest, No. 22-24
Cover Dates: September, 2007 – December, 2007
Length: 33 pages

I’m sorry that this is late. This week, I’m reviewing “Civil Chore”, a “big event” that Archie Comics had been hyping for a few months prior to its publication. Obviously, the title is a parody of Marvel Comics’ then-recent hugely successful “Civil War” big event. Big events in the Archie universe are never as big as big events in the DC or Marvel Universes. Take 1994’s “Love Showdown” for example. Did Archie finally decide between Betty and Veronica? Of course not, but it brought Cheryl Blossom back into the picture. That’s another review, though. This is about “Civil Chore”. It was serialized as the new lead story in three issues of the now-canceled “Tales From Riverdale Digest”, which was kind of a catch-all title for any character to be featured. In other words, random stuff. The summary will come first, followed by my review.

Part 1

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Fred Andrews and Archie are in the front yard. Fred is reading a list of chores for Archie to do. Archie says that’s a lot of chores, and he should be “adequately compensated”. He wants a raise in his allowance. Fred gets out of the discussion by pretending a nonexistent airplane that just flew by prevented him from hearing Archie’s request.

Later that afternoon, Fred is sitting inside, reading a newspaper (happily or unhappily?). Mary points out that Archie is marching around in the backyard, holding a sign that says “On Strike Parents Unfair”. Fred goes outside and demands to know what the fuck’s going on. Archie repeats his request for a raise in his allowance and says “Unfortunately, management was unwilling to listen to my request!” Fred refuses to raise Archie’s allowance, so the strike goes on. Archie is happy that his demonstration is drawing attention, but the old man walking by on the sidewalk yells at Archie, “Get a job, you hooligan!!”, which makes Fred laugh. Jughead comes by and asks what’s going on. Archie explains. Jughead cheers Archie on and says “Way to stick it to the establishment!” Jughead asks Archie for a loan, so he can eat at Pop’s, but Archie is strapped. Archie starts to ask Fred for an advance on his allowance, but Fred immediately refuses. Fred cuts off Archie’s allowance. Jughead tells Archie to end his strike, because it affects him as well: “If you’re not getting your allowance, who am I going to borrow from?!”. This upsets Archie. Betty walks by and asks what’s up. After a quick update, Betty says her folks just turned her down for a raise in her allowance too. She talked to Chuck about this recently. His parents turned him down too. Jughead says “Uh-oh! This is getting bigger!”.

A little while later, Mary points out to Fred that Betty and Chuck have joined Archie’s strike. Betty is holding a sign that says “Raise Our Allowances Now”. We don’t see what Chuck’s sign says. Fred refuses to budge, even if Archie “gets his whole class involved”. Mary, perhaps sarcastically, tells “General Custer” to stand firm. Jughead worries, if this keeps up, “there won’t be a single kid getting an allowance” and wonders “Who will I grub money from?!” Jughead then further postulates “What if he gets his raise? More money for him means more dates…more girls…and less Jughead!” Jughead decides to ally himself with “the darkest forces in Riverdale”, which apparently consist of Reggie and Veronica.

They meet. Veronica doesn’t care if Archie gets a raise, but Reggie points out, “Our good looks and charm aren’t our only advantages over Archie and Betty–there’s also our money! If Archie and the others get their raises, we lose a bit of our edge!” This convinces Veronica. She tells Reggie to start calling their friends, because they’re going to organize a counterstrike. The final blurb says “Whose side are you on? Will it divide Riverdale forever?! Find out–next issue!!”

Part 2

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The strike continues. Archie is holding a sign that says “Parents Unfair Raise Our Allowance!” Betty is holding a sign that says “Teenagers On Strike”. Chuck is holding a sign that says “No Raise No Chores”. Nancy walks by and demands to know what’s going on. Chuck says they’re protesting, and Archie recounts what happened (and didn’t happen) in Part 1. Chuck asks Nancy if she’s “down with” them. Nancy says she thinks they get enough of an allowance, and this demonstration makes them all seem so demanding, like spoiled children. Reggie, Veronica, and Jughead, all holding signs, arrive. Reggie’s sign says “No Allowance Increase”. Veronica’s sign says “Riverdale Teens Ungrateful”. Jughead’s sign says “Parents Stand Firm”. Reggie reiterates what Nancy said, and Veronica announces the counter-strike; they’re going to march until the other side calls off the strike. Chuck sees through Reggie’s motivation (as stated in Part 1) and points it out. A surprised Archie asks Jughead why him. Jughead says he’s only thinking of Archie but admits he’s doing it so he can borrow money from Archie, which surprises Archie. Moose and Midge arrive. Moose asks Reggie what’s going on. After Reggie explains, Moose says he and Midge are with Reggie, but Midge says not her; she can make her own decisions, and she could use a boost in her own allowance. This surprises Moose. Midge says she’s with Archie. Moose says he’s with Jughead. Jughead says this strike is tearing everyone apart. Veronica is upset that Betty and Archie aren’t far enough apart.

The strike continues on the next day. Betty has made “I’m With Archie” t-shirts for their side. Veronica calls up her “connections in the fashion world” to order “I’m With Jughead” t-shirts. Reggie decides to “turn up the heat” himself by calling his dad, Ricky Mantle, editor of the Riverdale Gazette. Ricky, deciding it would be a good human interest story, sends a photographer named Eddie to Hastings Street.

The next day, the headline on the front page of the Riverdale Gazette says “Riverdale Teens On Strike Whose Side Are You On?”, and there are photos of Archie and Jughead. All across Riverdale, people react to the story of the strike. Dilton says he could use a bigger allowance to fund his new experiments and decides to go down there to support Archie. Ethel runs out of her house to join “Juggie”. Mr. Weatherbee says the last thing that Archie needs is more money to waste his time with and decides no raise. His niece, Wendy, sides with “Uncle Waldo”, saying kids shouldn’t need money to have fun and adds “Jughead is kinda cute”. (There’s a footnote of their brief romance in Jughead & Friends, No. 12). Pop Tate hopes “for once” that Archie gets his way, so these kids can spend more money on more food.

Later, at the Andrews residence, Mary is upset that more kids are still arriving, and both sides keep getting bigger and bigger, but Fred doesn’t care, refusing to be forced into giving Archie a raise in his allowance. After a bit more arguing, Mary says she’ll give Archie his raise herself, surprising Fred. Just then, there are knocks on the back door. Fred answers. A shadowy figure, which surprises Fred, declares he’s here to end this crisis.

Meanwhile, in front of Archie’s house, Frankie joins Archie’s side, but Maria joins Jughead’s side. Raj Patel (a then-new Indian character) is on Archie’s side, and Reggie guesses Raj wants a bigger allowance to buy more video equipment (video is his thing in the comics). Jughead exposits his cousin, Bingo Wilkin (a then-new revelation on the part of Archie Comics) from Midvale, and his girlfriend, Samantha, have arrived. They came to show their support to Archie, which shocks Jughead. Bingo explains he wants a few more “greenbacks” in his wallet, so Samantha’s dad wouldn’t think he was such a loser, but then Samantha sides with Jughead, if only to prove to Bingo that money isn’t everything, which surprises Bingo. Jughead observes this is another split caused by this strike. Jughead melodramatically cries out to the sky, asking if it’s all worth it. Fred tells “Hamlet” to put a cork in it. He, Mary, and the shadowy figure have just arrived. The shadowy figure surprises Archie, Jughead, and Veronica. The shadowy figure declares “And I’m going to end this strike as I’ve ended countless others…through negotiations!”

Part 3

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Cheryl and Jason show up, having heard about the strike. Chuck recaps what happened in Parts 1 and 2 for them. Cheryl and Jason are surprised at the number of people that have shown up, but Cheryl happily describes it as “like a big party”. Archie and Jughead are still carrying signs and angry at each other. Chuck recaps the arrival of the shadowy figure in Part 2. Chuck introduces Cheryl and Jason to the shadowy figure, who turns out to be Mr. Lodge. Veronica asks her father what he’s doing here. He says he’s here to help resolve this situation. Fred says they’ll give him a shot. Mr. Lodge has Smithers carry a negotiating table and 4 chairs over. Mr. Lodge sits down with Archie, Jughead, and Fred. Reggie is confident that they can trick Jughead into doing whatever they want and keep this strike going forever. Mr. Lodge asks Jughead what he wants, and Jughead orders a ham and cheese and a Cherry Coke, which shocks Reggie.

Back at the strike, Cheryl sides with Veronica, citing Reggie’s reason from Part 1. Jason sides with Archie just to be close to Betty. He tells Adam to go back to “the D-list”, because “the A-team” is here. Midge comments it’s “another Riverdale romantic triangle”. Cricket O’Dell shows up. Her nose for money brought her here. Betty and Chuck take it as a good sign, but Cricket goes over to Veronica and Cheryl, smelling a whole lot more money there. Li’l Jinx shows up and joins Chuck and Betty, because she gets only 25 cents for her allowance, which shocks Chuck and Betty. Pop Tate shows up with a sign, and Betty is thrilled that he joined the strike, but he’s just advertising his business, because, with all of the kids not on allowance during the strike, business has been terrible.

Meanwhile, back at the negotiations, Fred offers Archie a buck more per week, which Archie dismisses as “pretty lame”. Fred says Archie just doesn’t know the value of a dollar. Jughead asks if it’s lunch yet. Mr. Lodge thinks this is rougher than he thought it would be, but then he spots Pop and has an idea. Mr. Lodge makes a secret suggestion to Fred.

Later, Pop gives out complimentary hot dogs to the crowd in celebration of the strike’s resolution. Mr. Lodge is footing the bill for the whole fiesta. Reggie is shocked that the strike is over. Mr. Lodge has been in touch with all of the parents, and they’re all on board with the plan. All of the kids are getting a “sensible” raise, provided they keep up with their chores and responsibilities. Archie’s side celebrates. Fred then gives Archie a title for starting all of this: “Director of Lawn Mowing”, which upsets Archie. Jughead asks Archie to loan him a few bucks. Archie asks for what. Jughead says Reggie and the other counter-protestors aren’t too happy with how he negotiated, so he needs a bus ticket out of town. Jughead runs away as Reggie and Moose (at least) chase him. Archie, Dilton, and Betty look on in surprise.

My Thoughts

So that’s “Civil Chore”. As far as big events go, this is the most banal one that I’ve ever seen. It’s even more banal than DC Comics’ “Countdown” with its insipid tagline, “Jimmy Olsen Must Die!” No one cares about that. Why should we care if Archie gets an allowance increase or not?

Fred dumps a long list of chores on Archie and then retreats into the house to sit on his lazy butt. How about helping your son, fatso? You could use the exercise anyway. At my house, my mom and I do most of the chores. We both undust, vacuum, mop the floor, and do yardwork. In this story, the dad reads out the chores and leaves. Not even Mary goes out to help Archie. I guess they figure, if Archie’s getting paid, they don’t need to help him. People shouldn’t have children just to turn them into house servants.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t address the laziness of the parents at all. Instead, it focuses on Archie thinking he’s somehow entitled to more money.

I don’t get paid for doing chores at all. I’ve never gotten an allowance. I’ve never complained that I’ve never gotten an allowance. Why not? Because my mom worked hard to provide enough money to feed me (and now I’m doing the same for her). Again, this story doesn’t address that. Archie has daily meals, a roof over his head, and a car (even though it sucks by today’s standards and speaks of the cheapness of his parents). He still wants more money.

While both sides seem to have certain things that they’re right about, this story fails to address their more serious faults: laziness and ungratefulness.

I don’t understand Fred getting out of the discussion of an allowance increase. He should have just said no right from the start. His initial avoidance makes him look like a coward that can’t stand up to his own son, even though he does so later.

Archie going on strike is something that I would never do. My mom would have taken away my video games and computer and/or put me up for adoption. Archie’s parents take a long time to do anything, and then Fred merely cuts off Archie’s allowance.

Archie referring to his father as “management” is a slap-worthy offense. I’d never speak to my parents like that.

I was so happy when the old man told Archie to get a job. I had a summer job between my junior and senior years of high school, and, even though I was there only a month before I got fired, I’d saved up enough money to buy my first computer. If Archie doesn’t already have a job, and he wants more money, then he should simply get a job. I have no idea how Archie got Betty and Chuck on his side. Betty of all people should have pointed out Archie’s wrongs. Keep in mind that I’m not some stuck-up conservative that will one day tell kids to get off my lawn; I just don’t think kids are entitled to more money based on their say-so.

This story shows Jughead cares about Archie only to the extent that it doesn’t affect himself personally. Jughead abandons Archie when it means that he can’t freeload, and he further convinces himself that Archie spending less time with him is a possibility, and he can’t have that. That’s a somewhat reasonable conclusion, considering Archie is the only person that really hangs out with Jughead (gee, I wonder why), and Archie probably would use any excuse to hang out with someone else instead. This story reminds me why I don’t like Jughead.

So Reggie and Veronica are the “darkest forces in Riverdale”? I’d think bank robbers or burglars would be. (Yes, they exist – even in the comics.)

Reggie’s argument makes no sense. Sure, he and Veronica are better looking than Archie – but not Betty. Way to insult Betty, asshole. Also, Veronica is filthy rich, and Reggie is well enough off. His father runs the town’s newspaper! Any increase that the Andrews, Coopers, and Claytons would give to their children wouldn’t make a dent in Reggie and Veronica’s monetary advantage.

Archie and Betty’s signs are different in Part 2 than in Part 1. You could explain this away by saying they made multiple signs, but why would they? Did some hecklers walk by and break their original signs? That sounds good. I’m going with that.

When Archie recounts what happened earlier, the continuity with Part 1 is bad. Fred’s list of chores is longer. Archie is wearing different pants and shoes. There’s a new mini-scene of Archie giving Fred a presentation of “Reasons For Archie’s Raise” that isn’t in Part 1. Archie is holding a different sign when his parents discover he’s striking (Mary seems surprised now too, despite originally finding out before Fred). The house exterior looks a bit different. The passer-by in the background is a different person. Archie and Betty’s signs match those in Part 2 rather than those in Part 1. Betty’s shirt is different. Archie’s clothes as noted above remain wrong. Chuck’s clothes are completely different.

I have to take issue with Archie’s reasons for a raise:

1) More chores – Nowhere in Part 1 was it mentioned that Fred had increased the number of Archie’s chores, so this is a bit of a retcon.

2) Cost of living – Let’s see. Archie’s parents pay for the house, his meals, and other basic needs. What’s this cost of living that Archie’s referring to? An increase in movie ticket prices, CD prices, and video game prices? Please.

3) Responsibility handling money – Yeah, because constantly loaning money to Jughead and having to pay for dates with a rich girl is responsible.

It’s no wonder that Fred fell asleep.

Nancy makes very good points. This stuff should have been said in Part 1.

Most of the positions taken in Part 2 are understandable or at least could go either way, because the characters (such as Midge) aren’t developed enough, but the splits of so many couples (four!) is too convenient.

Also, why is Jughead concerned over the splits? The counter-strike was his idea. He should have anticipated this.

Having Archie live on Hastings Street is a nice touch, since Bob Hastings is perhaps the best-known actor to voice Archie on the old-time “The Adventures of Archie Andrews” radio show. Maybe Archie Comics could continue with this idea and have Jughead live on Stone Street, Betty live on Rice Road, etc.

Riverdale must be a boring town if a strike by a bunch of kids is front-page, headline-making material.

Wendy’s point is a good one too. I had a fun enough childhood without an allowance. It’s called getting video games from my parents. When I started working at a real job (which Archie and the rest of his group would be doing if they had any sense), I had my own money to buy video games, anime, manga, and comic books on my own.

The reasons for Frankie and Maria’s positions are never stated.

Chuck’s recaps in Part 3 contradict Parts 1 and 2, both visually and in some plot details.

The most-anticipated moment of Part 3 is the nearly-full-page depiction of “just about every Riverdale teen” on page 2. Here is a list of the characters, according to Archie Comics:

1. Veronica’s cousin, Marcy (with Jughead)
2. Raj Patel (unclear here but with Archie)
3. Jason Blossom (soon with Archie)
4. Chuck Clayton (with Archie)
5. Cheryl Blossom (soon with Jughead)
6. Bingo’s Drummer, Buddy (no t-shirt)
7. Fernando Ruiz’s Fiancé, Carrie (with Archie, judging by sign)
8. Josie McCoy (no t-shirt)
9. Tough Teddy Tough (with Archie)
10. Archie Andrews (the instigator)
11. Betty Cooper (with Archie)
12. Veronica Lodge (with Jughead)
13. Dilton Doiley (unclear here but with Archie)
14. Alison Adams (with Jughead, judging by sign)
15. Frankie Valdez (unclear here but with Archie)
16. Bingo Wilkin (with Archie, judging by sign)
17. Midge Klump (unclear here but with Archie)
18. Reggie Mantle (with Jughead, judging by sign)
19. Samantha Smythe (with Jughead, judging by sign)
20. Fernando Ruiz (the writer, unclear which side)
21. Maria Rodriguez (with Jughead, judging by sign)
22. Nancy Woods (unclear here but with Jughead)
23. Debbie (with Jughead)
24. January McAndrews (no t-shirt)
25. Trula Twist (unclear which side)
26. Wendy “Double W” Weatherbee (with Jughead)
27. Hot Dog (unclear which side)
28. Big Moose Mason (with Jughead)
29. Sabrina the Teenage Witch (no t-shirt)
30. Ethel Muggs (with Jughead, judging by sign)
31. Jughead (the other guy to blame for this)
32. Joanie Jummp (unclear which side)

I admit I don’t know all of the characters. However, I did notice, when typing this up, that the writer and/or artist failed to specify the sides (if any) of 7 characters (8, if you count the writer). This could have been drawn better.

Why are some non-Riverdale teens, such as Josie and Sabrina, here?

It’s nice to see some characters from the past, such as Debbie and Joanie Jump (Jughead’s old girlfriends from the late 1980s / early 1990s, though I think I missed all of that) and January McAndrews (from the 1990-1991 title, “Jughead’s Time Police”).

We further see Alexandra Cabot is with Jughead, and Alexander Cabot is with Archie and using the opportunity to promote his band. Good manager.

Why are Archie and Jughead still striking and angry at each other in the present time? The shadowy figure had already intervened at the end of Part 2…

…which Part 3 then acknowledges through a recap, so…what just happened here? This is sloppy continuity.

I was pretty much certain that the shadowy figure was Mr. Lodge. There was a chance that Archie Comics might introduce a surprise twist and have it be somebody else (like Clifford Blossom), but that didn’t happen.

Why does Fred now agree to give Mr. Lodge a shot? He must have already agreed to it if he brought him to Archie and Jughead at the end of Part 2.

Why does Reggie all of a sudden want the strike to go on forever? There was no indication of that in Parts 1 or 2. Where did this come from?

That visual gag with the sign snapping and hitting some character (who?) on the head is funny.

Why is Tough Teddy Tough now with Jughead? Is this a goof, or is he switching sides? If the latter, then it might indicate Josie McCoy is with Archie, and Melody Valentine (who we see here without a t-shirt) is with Jughead.

I like Jughead even less for preferring Coke.

I like Cheryl’s attitude towards the whole thing until she decides to join in. She also cites the whole monetary advantage reason. Really, how could a bunch of middle-class teens getting an allowance increase make even a small dent in Cheryl’s (and Reggie’s and Veronica’s) monetary advantage? This “reason” has persisted throughout the story, and it’s just so dumb and nonsensical.

Who’s the white-moustached guy (with Jughead) that’s standing in front of Cheryl?

Who’s the brown-haired girl standing behind Adam (who’s with Archie) and Betty?

Midge’s comment about another Riverdale romantic triangle is heavy-handed. I don’t find it funny. We can figure this stuff out on our own without being told it.

Valerie Brown is here too, but she’s not wearing a t-shirt, so it’s unclear whose side (if any) that she’s on.

Yeah, Cricket O’Dell can smell money. It’s a dumb concept.

So Li’l Jinx exists in the Archieverse, apparently, and Riverdale at that (how else could she have gotten there?). However, the outdated nature of her character is illustrated by the fact that she still receives only 25 cents for an allowance in 2007.

Mr. Weatherbee is with Jughead, as he stated in Part 2, but Ms. Grundy is with Archie. Why?

Why is Betty so excited to see Pop when she didn’t even see his sign yet? For all that she knew, he was part of the counter-strike.

Who are the three kids (one with Archie, one without a t-shirt, and one with Jughead) and dog behind Pop?

Pop makes a good point. Even the counter-strikers aren’t getting any money now. I find it hard to believe that none of them have any spending money, though.

Fred is living in the past if he believes a dollar is a big deal. A 20-ounce bottle of soda costs more than that these days.

Coach Kleats is with Archie. It’s cute that he’s chasing after Pop. I guess he wants food.

We see Professor Flutesnoot, but whose side (if any) is he on?

So the strike is ended by the kids getting a vague increase in their allowance (they aren’t told how much), provided they keep up with their chores and responsibilities. That’s essentially what Archie wanted in the first place, so his side won. It just seems so anti-climactic, though. Wouldn’t the kids want to know how much extra money that they’re getting before they celebrate?

Also, the strike is resolved off-panel. That means we didn’t get to see the resolution to this story. Imagine if “Captain America: Civil War” skipped over the final battle and ended with a scene back at Avengers HQ with Steve and Tony talking about how the conflict was resolved. Total fucking bullshit.

Jughead wastes almost no time in trying to borrow money from Archie. Typical.

Why, exactly, are the counter-protestors mad at Jughead? Sure, he was dumb during the negotiations, but is that all? Did he actively agree to Mr. Lodge’s plan? Not likely, since Mr. Lodge discussed it with the parents, and Archie was surprised by the outcome. So…I don’t get it.

This entire story is so decompressed, it’s ridiculous. There was so much build-up over nothing.

We don’t know exactly how long that this strike lasted, but we have to assume it’s during summer time, because there’s no indication that the kids took breaks to go to school and do homework.

We don’t even get any indication of what the kids did at night when they went home (did they go home?). How did they and their parents behave toward each other?

I don’t care for this story, and I have a feeling that it was merely a stunt that was designed to boost sales.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Westward, Huh?

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Writer: Pat Kennedy
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 179
On-Sale Date: November 12, 2007
Length: 12 pages

In 2007, in a weird move, Archie Comics did a sequel to a 17-year-old story – an obscure story at that, notable only because it was featured on the cover of the issue that it appeared in. The new lead story in this digest, “Westward, Huh?”, is a sequel to “Way Out West“, which appeared in Archie Giant Series Magazine, No. 608 (8/90). Why they decided to follow up on a 17-year-old story, I have no idea. It’s not even written by the same writer. Did Pat Kennedy just happen to come across that story and think “Y’know, this story needs a sequel!”?

Sly drives Veronica and Betty to Charlie Chuck Ranch. It’s been a while since they’ve seen Charlie. Veronica asks Sly if Charlie is still writing best-selling Westerns. Sly says Charlie’s had writer’s block for “’bout two years”.

When they arrive at the ranch, Charlie greets them. Even though Charlie had invited them, it was Mr. Lodge’s idea; maybe some new blood around the ranch could get rid of Charlie’s writer’s block. Veronica pitches some ideas for Western novels – starring her. Charlie offers lemonade. Lenora comes out of the house with the lemonade. She gives a fax that came in to Charlie. It’s from Zane Grubb, a rival writer that “lives down the way”, saying he passed 500,000 on the bestseller list. Charlie gets mad, draws his guns, and fires them, forgetting there are no bullets in them. Lenora tells the girls that the guns aren’t loaded; he only carries them around for inspiration. Sly brings up the things that have been happening around here (snakes in the corral, brush fires, midnight stampedes), causing Lenora to yell at him. Lenora says those incidents have caused only limited damage so far, like they have a guardian angel.

That night, Sly, Veronica, and Betty are outside. Sly is flirting with Veronica. Betty spots a bucking bronco. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a mysterious stranger rides in on his horse and instructs his dog/wolf/whatever to round up the bronco. He somehow ties the bronco to a stake, says good night, and leaves. Charlie comes outside and demands to know what’s going on. Sly tells him.

Later, on the porch, Charlie says they’ve seen the stranger a couple of times, and Lenora says he’s helped them more than that. Veronica asks who’s causing the “accidents”. Sly says he knows. Charlie yells at him. Sly says it’s the oil companies; they’ve had their eye on this piece of property for years now; these incidents started after their last offer was turned down “a couple of years ago”. Charlie says he doesn’t like to think bad of people. Sly says they have to face reality and deal with it.

The next day, Charlie, Sly, Betty, and Veronica go out for a horse ride. Suddenly, a rockslide starts. The stranger, standing on a cliff above them and being fought by someone, warns them. Sly gets knocked off his horse by a boulder but only gets the wind knocked out of him. Betty decides to help the stranger and takes off on her horse. Charlie goes along. He says Betty rides like a pro. Betty says she’s had lessons and requests Charlie’s gun. Charlie gives it to her. Betty holds the man attacking the stranger at gunpoint and dismounts her horse. She gives the gun to the stranger. The man attacking the stranger is Zane Grubb. Zane had caused all of the incidents to keep Charlie uneasy; without the competition, Zane’s books soared up the bestsellers list. As Zane says, “Fer two years, I was king!” Zane tells the stranger to put his guns away, because he got him, and he knows they aren’t loaded. The stranger ties Zane up.

Back at the ranch, Charlie finds out that the stranger had been looking over them this whole time. The stranger says he’ll retire but doesn’t know what he’ll do now. Betty whispers to Charlie and gets him to hire the stranger to tell his experiences to Charlie. Charlie’s writer’s block is gone, and he’s writing up a storm.

I’m not sure what to make of this story. When I saw a preview of this story back in 2007, I assumed it was going to be a remake of “Way Out West”. Instead, it seems to be a sequel – but a disjointed sequel.

It’s pretty clear from the dialogue that this story is set at least two years after “Way Out West”. That means Betty and Veronica are out of high school and in college – not that it’d be explicitly mentioned here.

The passage of time is further indicated by the fact that Lenora now has white hair, whereas she had brown hair in “Way Out West”.

I’m guessing this is exposition for people that didn’t read “Way Out West”, but Lenora tells Betty and Veronica about Charlie’s guns – even though he told them himself in “Way Out West”.

It’d odd to see Sly flirting with Veronica and Veronica in love with him, whereas there was no attraction between them in “Way Out West”. Well, Veronica is at least two years older now, so I guess Sly figures it’s okay, now that Veronica’s legal.

The mysterious stranger is such a stereotype. He diminishes the story.

It’s understandable that Lenora yelled at Sly earlier – even if the motive wasn’t specified. She was likely trying to get Sly to not scare Betty and Veronica. However, Charlie’s yelling at him now, because he doesn’t like to think bad of people. Well, I guess that explains the lack of a connection between the oil companies and the incidents in “Way Out West”. However, Charlie did say in “Way Out West” that they weren’t accidents. Why is he so reluctant to admit that here?

More importantly, this story seems to ignore the revelation in “Way Out West” that Curly Saddlesore was behind those incidents. Instead, Sly blames the oil companies, saying the incidents started after their last offer was turned down, presumably referring to the encounter with the oilmen in “Way Out West”. This doesn’t make any sense. The only explanation would be that these are a separate series of incidents that started after some unseen rejection of an offer after “Way Out West”. That would explain Veronica’s unfamiliarity with the incidents. Nah, I’m overthinking it; the writer just fucked up.

How could Sly only get the wind knocked out of him by a boulder? Since he has a crutch later, it obviously did more harm than that. Heck, the boulder hit him right between the legs. He might want to have his sperm count tested.

Betty mentions her riding lessons. That’s a nice continuity touch with “Way Out West”.

Betty seems visibly shaken when she hands the gun to the stranger. Even though it’s unloaded, Betty seems uneasy with pointing a gun at someone.

So Zane Grubb is behind the incidents. He bears a striking resemblance to Curly Saddlesore from “Way Out West”.

How was Zane, an old man, able to beat up on the younger stranger?

How does Zane know the stranger’s guns aren’t loaded? Did he dare him on it earlier in their fight? Also, how does Zane know Betty’s gun isn’t loaded?

Why does Betty whisper to Charlie? The stranger is standing right behind them, and Charlie will presumably offer a job to the stranger immediately afterwards, so what’s the point?

Veronica doesn’t call Charlie “Uncle Charlie” in this story. Only Sly does it. Veronica continues with her odd habit of calling Charlie by his full name.

We never find out who the stranger is. This is made even weirder by the revelation that it’s a profession that he can retire from. Who, exactly, paid him to be a “masked avenger of the plains”? Did he have to reveal his identity when he turned Zane in to the sheriff? Why is he still masked when working for Charlie?

So the stranger lost his can of baked beans on the trail. That’s got to inspire some adventurous story. Yeah, right.

This story is okay, but I like “Way Out West” better.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Way Out West

“Whafuck?” you ask?

Funny (and embarrassing) story: I don’t have a way to record video from TV, so I figured I’d be using downloaded episodes of “Riverdale” to do the reviews. Unfortunately, the file format that it’s in is incompatible with my video editor. Yeah, I use an editor when writing the reviews, because it allows easy rewind, fast-forward, and scrolling, allowing me to capture the exact frame that I want. With “Riverdale”, I’m forced to use a video player, which doesn’t have those controls, so trying to get the shots that I want is a pain in the ass.

So “Riverdale” will have to wait until it’s out on DVD. If it gets canceled before then, I’ll deal with the downloaded video files.

In a way, this is a good thing, because the thought of reviewing a 46-minute episode every week was daunting. Also, my work has slammed me with a lot of hours recently (and for the foreseeable future), giving me little free time as a result.

So sorry, but this blog will feature comic stories and “The New Archies” for the time being.

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Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Dan DeCarlo
Inking: Henry Scarpelli
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Original Publication: Archie Giant Series Magazine, No. 608
Cover Date: August, 1990
Length: 11 pages

This is a two-part story. No, there were not 600+ issues of “Archie Giant Series Magazine”. In one of the, um, weirdest mysteries in comics, issues #36-135 and #252-451 were simply skipped over. Really bizarre. So there are actually 332 issues of this title, which is still pretty impressive. Each issue actually “presents” a different subtitle (in this case, “Betty and Veronica Spectacular”), which indicates which character(s) will be featured.

Veronica and Betty get off of a train somewhere out west and are met by Veronica’s “Uncle Charlie” Chuck and Sylvester (aka Sly), his nephew and ranch foreman. Veronica introduces Betty to Charlie Chuck, “the world’s greatest writer of Westerns”. Charlie isn’t Veronica’s uncle at all, just a dear friend of her father that knew Veronica since she was little. Charlie and Sly carry the girls’ luggage to Charlie’s car. Veronica spots a rattlesnake in the back of the car and asks Charlie if he’s going to shoot it. Charlie says he can’t; his guns aren’t loaded; he just carries them to help inspire him to write his stories. Charlie gets the snake out of the car with a stick.

On the ride to the ranch, Sly and Charlie talk about how Charlie fell off of his horse and almost broke his leg. Charlie says someone deliberately cut the cinch in his saddle. The oil companies are offering to buy Charlie’s land. Sly says Charlie should sell, but Charlie refuses. They come upon “Ol’ Curly Saddlesore”, a prospector, who hasn’t hit any payloads lately. Charlie and Curly went to high school together.

When they arrive at Charlie’s Ranch, they’re greeted by oilmen. Charlie gets them to leave. Charlie introduces Lenora (presumably his wife) to Veronica and Betty. Lenora says, before his accident, Charlie would ride the range for hours; it helped inspire him to write his Western novels. Now, he rides a mechanical, toy horse, which he doesn’t find the same. Lenora tells the girls to freshen up, because they’re going to a square dance tonight.

At the square dance, Betty is excited to hear “real honest-to-goodness country music”, and Veronica is excited about the two “real honest-to-goodness cowboys” approaching them. One of them introduces himself as Slim and then introduces his sidekick, Dusty. Veronica introduces herself and then introduces Betty as her sidekick. Veronica dances with Slim, and Betty dances with Dusty. Slim says they worked at Charlie’s ranch until “mean dude” Sly fired them. A bullet is fired through the window and goes through Charlie’s hat. Veronica mentions to Betty about how Sly stepped outside just before the shot was fired. Betty agrees and guesses he put the snake in the car.

The next day, Charlie wants to show the girls around “the spread”. Veronica advises him to not leave the house. Charlie says he’ll ask Sly to show them around, but Veronica says she and Betty would rather ride on their own.

As Veronica and Betty ride, Betty says she’s so glad that Veronica insisted Betty take riding lessons back in Riverdale. Both Betty and Veronica express a distrust of Sly. Betty spots someone following them at a distance. Veronica looks through her binoculars; it’s Sly. Veronica suggests they ride into a canyon to lose him and then spots a cabin, which Betty guesses is Curly’s cabin, based on his mule being outside.

They go into the cabin, and Betty discovers Curly has a collection of Charlie’s books. Veronica discovers Curly put a hangman’s noose around a picture of Charlie. Curly comes inside, holding the rifle with which he’d almost “finished” Charlie. Veronica asks Curly why he wants to “harm” Charlie. Curly says Charlie maligns him in all of his books, mistaking mentions of a “tall dark handsome stranger” and other such villains as being about him. Sly comes in and points a gun at Curly. Curly uses the butt of his rifle to knock the gun out of Sly’s hand. Taking advantage of the distraction, Betty kicks the rifle out of Curly’s hands. Sly picks up the gun and points it at Curly. Sly praises Betty’s “fancy footwork” on and off the dance floor, and Betty admits they were wrong about Sly.

Later, back at the ranch, Charlie tells Curly that he never once put him in any of his books. Curly says that’s even worse as Sly leads him away. Charlie blames Curly’s behavior on years of prospecting. Charlie wants to make it up to Veronica and Betty for all of the trouble that they went through. Veronica asks for dates for herself and Betty with Slim and Dusty. Lenora has already done that. They’re at the ranch and greet the girls.

This is a pretty nice story, but I don’t care for it much, because I don’t care for Westerns in general.

It’s nice to get some background info on Veronica, even if it’s not much.

Betty loses some cool points for liking country music.

Slim and Dusty are such stereotypical cowboy names.

Veronica alternates between referring to Charlie as “Uncle Charlie” and “Charlie Chuck”. That’s weird. Why would Veronica call him by his full name when she thinks he’s been shot?

It’s odd that Charlie would have no idea of who’d want him dead. The connection is never made between the oil companies and the incidents.

It’s weird that Betty and Veronica would become suspicious of Sly based on no more than Slim calling him a “mean dude” and Sly walking outside before the shot was fired (which we didn’t see). Sure, it might plant the thoughts in their heads, but they overreacted.

It’s kind of pathetic that, with an attempt on Charlie’s life, the writer keeps trying to avoid calling it what it is: killing. Instead, we get “goner”, “finished”, and “harm”. Sheesh. What about “brown bread”? Would that work?

Did Sly pull a loaded gun on Curly, or did he take one of Charlie’s unloaded guns?

Betty is awesome for kicking the rifle out of Curly’s hands. Betty picks up the rifle but doesn’t have her finger on the trigger, leaving Sly to hold Curly at gunpoint.

Sly rides back to the ranch on a horse, and Curly is tied up while riding with him on his mule. When they get to the ranch, they dismount, and Sly has Curly walk off with him somewhere. Why? Where? If they’re (presumably) going to the sheriff (and not behind the wood shed), then shouldn’t they ride instead of walk?

In general, this story is nice, but Curly’s motive is insane.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Getting to Riverdale

I’m sorry that this is late. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to review before “Riverdale” takes over this blog.

I decided, instead of reviewing another series from the past, I’ll give an overview of the journey to “Riverdale” – and also introduce you to the actors, so the review of the first episode won’t get bogged down with that.

From There to Here

berman Archie andrews

Archie got a radio series less than two years after he premiered in the comics, and the thing ran for a little over a decade from 1943 to 1953. In my opinion, it wasn’t very good. It focused more on Mr. Andrews than on Archie, and each episode devoted nearly a half-hour to a relatively minor problem (it’s hot, and they can’t sleep; Mr. Andrews tries to take a bath; Mr. Andrews tries to paint a room).

There were two attempts at a TV series in the early-to-mid-1960s, neither of which got past the pilot stage nor (probably) even aired on television. The first, “Life with Archie“, in 1962, starred Frank Bank (Clarence Rutherford of “Leave It to Beaver”). According to IMDb: “According to Frank Bank, the pilot was not picked up because the sponsors felt that viewers would still see him as “Lumpy” from Leave It to Beaver (1957).” The second, called “Archie” but also known as “The Electric Cupid”, in 1964, starred John Simpson, whose only other acting credit was appearing as a zombie in “Night of the Living Dead” four years later. I have never seen the 1962 pilot. I’ve seen the first third of the 1964 pilot but failed to download the entire thing before it got removed from YouTube (now, only a short clip exists on that site). I have no info on the plot of the 1962 pilot, but the 1964 pilot involves a matchmaking scheme by Archie, which involves Jughead getting inside a fake “computer”. From what I’ve seen, it’s all right. Typical 1950s-style sitcom stuff. It’s hard to tell who produced these things. According to IMDb, ABC produced the 1962 pilot, Screen Gems produced the 1964 pilot, and ABC distributed the 1964 pilot. According to IMDb, the 1964 pilot actually aired on television, but no specific date is given. IMDb also claims more cast and crew overlap between the two pilots. I’ve been told this is incorrect. Supposedly, only Betty’s actor, Cheryl Holdridge, appears in both pilots, but that might be wrong as well. Take all of this info with a big grain of salt.

Archie-Show-16-band-3Filmation struck gold with a long-running cartoon series that ran from 1968 to 1977 for a total of ten seasons. I don’t really care for these either. The characters all behave like idiots, and the plots feel a bit too much like, um, Saturday morning cartoons (which they were, but, y’know).

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While Filmation had Archie and Sabrina, rivals Hanna-Barbera got Josie, and a Saturday morning cartoon series (or two, depending on how you look at it) ran for a total of 32 episodes plus an animated movie from 1970 to 1973.

When the Filmation juggernaut was nearing its end, another attempt at a live-action series was made. The first pilot, “Archie“, aired on Sunday, December 19, 1976, as part of “ABC Saturday Comedy Special“. Yeah, I doubt IMDb’s info. Two years later, ABC was like “Try again”. Supposedly using the same cast, “The Archie Situational Comedy Musical Variety Show” aired sometime in 1978. I haven’t seen anything from the 1976 pilot. According to IMDb, David Caruso was originally cast as Archie but was replaced shortly before filming began. The change was so sudden that publicity photos of Dennis Bowen as Archie credited him as Caruso.” I’ve heard of the plot from another reviewer, who quoted from a book called “Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials – 1974-1984” by Vincent Terrace. According to that, “Archie tries to arrange for a popular singing group (the Hound Dogs) to perform at Veronica’s birthday party.” Archie Comics character “Little Jinx” is credited as a guest star, even though she’s rarely crossed over with the Riverdale gang (and I’m not sure that she even had at all at this point). The 1978 pilot was more loose, consisting of sketches and musical numbers. It also is the only time that Moose and Midge have been featured as members of The Archies. It’s very 1970s. There are neon instruments, frog dissection, the revelation that Veronica apparently fucks everyone that she dates and is damn proud of it (this was in 1978, people!), Jughead’s parents being divorced, a game of Monopoly, Archie working as a waiter at (presumably) Pop’s to buy a car, and Archie and Betty arguing over whether to fuck before Betty finally suggests necking. The 1978 pilot is okay. It’s kind of interesting. It’s what you’d expect of a sitcom from that era. I’ve seen it, but the video is so bad that it’s barely watchable.

After that, things went quiet for nine years. During this time, someone seemingly got a license to make a live-action Archie movie, because the teenage versions of the characters wouldn’t appear on television again for quite a while. Some of you older fans might remember the rumor of Shannen Doherty as Veronica.

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This tie-up of the legal rights didn’t prevent the gang from eventually returning to television, though. “The New Archies“, coproduced by Saban and DiC, ran for one season of 13 episodes (26 story segments) on NBC in the fall of 1987 and was repeated two years later. Featuring slightly younger versions of the gang in junior high (I think), it’s an okay – albeit unremarkable – cartoon series that I kind of like.

archie-traba-624-gang1990 saw a live-action television movie (and possible series pilot), produced by DiC and airing on NBC, featuring the Riverdale gang in their early thirties. I like this movie. It has charm and heart. Unfortunately, it tanked in “the ratings”, so no weekly television series emerged. This was the last time that the Riverdale gang was seen in live-action form.

Things fell silent again for another six years. What was going on? Who knows?

sabrina-001-52-sabrina-salemThen, suddenly, in 1996, a TV movie aired on premium cable – followed by a live-action network series (ABC/WB) that ran for seven seasons and two spin-off movies. Archie Comics finally had a successful live-action series – with Sabrina Spellman.

This success led to Sabrina in animated form, produced by DiC (of course) and running in various forms through early 2004, outlasting the live-action series by nearly a year.

awm-promoDuring this time, in the 1999-2000 season, the teenage versions of the Riverdale characters finally returned to television for a 40-episode animated series called “Archie’s Weird Mysteries” on the new network, PAX. Featuring a supernatural angle and a pitch-perfect voice cast, this series is fun. It gives you what you expect from the characters – with a bit of a twist. A movie in the same continuity – but also introducing the band element suddenly for whatever reason – aired on Tuesday, September 2, 2003 (according to IMDb; Wikipedia says 2002 without a specific date), on Nickelodeon Sunday Night Toons (yeah, this info is definitely sketchy). This was the last time that the Riverdale gang appeared on television in an official capacity).

On Wednesday, April 11, 2001, Archie Comics finally had a big theatrical film – with “Josie and the Pussycats“. I saw it in the theater and bought the DVD around the time that it was released. Featuring a kick-ass rock soundtrack (certified gold), it’s a fucking brilliant satire of the music industry and our consumerist culture and even has a mystery angle similar to the comics and Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. Sadly, it bombed at the box office, crushing any hopes for a sequel. Interestingly, unlike the comics of the time, it took place in Riverdale, yet Archie and the gang were nowhere to be seen.

However, Sabrina got one last hurrah with the 26-episode computer-animated series, “Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch“, which aired on The Hub in the 2013-2014 series. From what I’ve seen, it’s okay. It’s a typical modern Nickelodeon animated series. This was the last official representation of Archie Comics on television.

So that’s the history of Archie Comics on television (outside the occasional parodies). What happened next is kind of hard to explain.

Arriving at Riverdale

In the years prior to now, Archie Comics had still been trying to get a live-action movie of the Riverdale gang made. In 2003, a licensing deal for a bunch of animated series, direct-to-video movies, TV specials, and live bands based on the various Archie properties was announced, but nothing happened. The digests even advertised an upcoming sitcom that never happened.

A “Betty & Veronica” film from Miramax was supposed to come out in 2005, and a script was apparently spotted at Archie Comics’ then-leader Richard Goldwater’s house. Miramax released a bunch of tie-in books and apparel to build interest for the movie. ArchieComics.com had a little banner in 2005 saying the movie was coming soon. Then…nothing. I’d love to read this script.

In 2010, there was a vague rumor of an animated series based on Archie’s superhero alter-ego, Pureheart the Powerful.

Richard Goldwater, the son of one of the company’s cofounders, died in late 2007, and Michael Silbertkleit, the son of another cofounder, died in 2008. Richard’s half-brother, Jon, and Michael’s widow, Nancy, became the new co-CEOs of Archie Comics in mid-2009.

What followed were a bunch of cancellations of long-running titles, the launch of alternate-universe horror titles based on Archie and Sabrina in late 2013 and late 2014 (respectively), talk of movies and TV series from Jon Goldwater (he mentioned a “Katy Keene” TV series), an announcement of a new animated series called “It’s Archie” (featuring the characters as kids attending Riverdale Elementary School) – along with some bad promo art that did not inspire confidence – from MoonScoop Group (the company behind the latest Sabrina series), and the launch of New Riverdale in late 2015.

It's-Archie.jpgSo what’s happened since then? “It’s Archie” never materialized (thank Goddess). “Afterlife with Archie” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” have fallen comically behind schedule, putting out only 10 and 6 issues, respectively, since their debuts. The new “Betty and Veronica” title keeps falling behind schedule. Rumors persist of Archie Comics’ financial troubles. New Riverdale has barely more continuity than Classic Archie (and certainly no inter-title continuity) and is beginning to, aside from the art style and occasional very mild cursing, feel no different than Classic Archie – almost to the point where I can’t immediately tell if an upcoming one-shot special is supposed to be Classic Archie or New Riverdale or something else entirely.

The big break can be traced back to, of all things, the comically-behind-schedule horror title, “Afterlife with Archie”. It’s then-success led to its writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (a comic book fan only a few years older than me), being named Archie Comics’ chief creative officer in early 2014.

Sacasa-Goldwater.jpgRoberto Aguirre-Sacase (left) and Jon Goldwater (right)

Around this time, another live-action Archie theatrical film was being talked about, and it briefly turned into a possible “Afterlife with Archie” movie or TV series in December of 2014 before seemingly reverting to a traditional Archie film. Then, according to the official company line, they were like “Fuck it, we’ve got so much material, let’s do a TV series instead!”

Sacasa is writing “Riverdale“, so Afterlife, despite its overall lack of material, is a bit of an influence on it. It was originally in development at Fox, with the network landing the project in 2014 with a script deal plus penalty. However, Fox did not go forward with the project. In early July of 2015, the show’s development was moved to The CW, which officially ordered a pilot on January 29, 2016. Filming of the pilot began on March 14 and ended on April 1. It was picked up to series on May 12. Production on the remaining 12 episodes of season 1 began on September 7 in Vancouver. In December of 2016, Netflix acquired the exclusive international broadcast rights to “Riverdale”, making the series available as an original series to its platform less than a day after the original U.S. broadcast. The series is being executive-produced by Greg Berlanti of CW superhero series fame.

Soon after the series was announced, Archie fans started complaining. Jon Goldwater said “This is a current, modern, live-action take of Archie and Betty and Veronica. It’s the love triangle with a lot of surprises. Very current, very modern, not anything that’s retro or that anyone could view as stuck in the past. It’s contemporary high school 2016 of Archie and the gang.” Sacasa described this series as a subversive take on the Archie story in the style of “Twin Peaks” (which I never saw more than the first episode of) and “Gossip Girl“, exploring the darkness going on beneath the bright, cheerful facade of small-town life. So it’s weird but without the supernatural elements (maybe), but it certainly follows “Supernatural“. Sacasa has said he’d like to bring in Sabrina eventually and/or do a spin-off series (which would be separate from the Sabrina relaunch that Melissa Joan Hart is currently “in talks” to do).

Fans criticized the plot elements, the sexualization of the characters (because the Riverdale gang has never, ever, ever wanted to fuck), and the casting choices (especially the race changes). Let’s look at the actors that will be bringing life to our characters.

The Actors

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Most of the teen characters are being portrayed by relative newbies (most of which don’t even have Wikipedia articles), which I think is a good thing. It’s good to get fresh faces to play such iconic characters.

Archibald “Archie” Andrews is being portrayed by New Zealander actor Keneti James “K. J.” Apa. “Riverdale” is actually his third television series but his first American one. Also, he’s got two upcoming film roles this year: “A Dog’s Purpose” and “Altar Rock”. He was born on June 16, 1997, in Auckland, New Zealand, and won the role of Archie after a four-month worldwide talent search.

Forsythe Pendleton “Jughead” Jones III is being portrayed by Cole Mitchell Sprouse. He’s had the most acting experience out of the teen characters’ actors, having acted since 1993, mostly with his twin brother. He was Cody Martin on Nickelodeon. “Riverdale” is his 30th acting credit. He also produced “The Suite Life Movie” in 2011, and he can sing. He was born in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy to American parents on August 4, 1992.

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Veronica Lodge is being portrayed by Camila Mendes (heh, Camila succeeds Camille). “Riverdale” is her first role, which is awesome. The fans have criticized a Hispanic actor playing Veronica, and it’s sort of understandable, because Lodge is an upper-crust name from New England, originating in England. However, while her mother seems to be Hispanic as well, there’s no indication yet what Hiram is. It’s possible that Veronica is only half-Hispanic. Regardless, from what I’ve seen of her in the promos, she pulls off Veronica well. Let’s give her a chance.

Lili-Reinhart.jpgElizabeth “Betty” Cooper is being portrayed by Lili Reinhart. She’s relatively new to acting, having started in 2010, but “Riverdale” is already her 14th credit. She can also sing. She was born on September 13, 1996, in Cleveland, Ohio. Reinhart has a tattoo on her left arm. It’ll be interesting to see if they conceal it.

Madelaine-Petsch.jpgCheryl Blossom is being portrayed by Madelaine Petsch, who is very new to acting, having started in 2015. “Riverdale” is only her fourth credit and only her second named role. Cheryl Blossom is certainly her first major role – as a main character, no less. I love the fact that Cheryl Blossom is a main character. She’s one of my favorite Archie Comics characters (it’s a toss-up between her and Betty). She’s got an upcoming film role this year in “Fuck the Prom”.

Kevin Keller is being portrayed by Casey Cott. This is his first role.

Reginald “Reggie” Mantle is being portrayed by Ross Butler, who started acting in 2012, but “Riverdale” is already his 17th role. He’ll apparently be only a recurring character, but don’t feel bad for him; he’s also starring on another series currently in post-production. He was born on May 17, 1990 (11 days after the TV movie), making him way too old for the role. There were some complaints that he’s Asian (or at least partly Asian), but it’s not a big deal to me.

Then there are Josie and the Pussycats.

Josephine “Josie” McCoy is being portrayed by Ashleigh Murray, who has been acting since 2007, but “Riverdale” is only her 6th credit (and first major role). She’s also got a movie role coming up this year.

Melody Valentine is being portrayed by Asha Bromfield, who started acting in 2010. “Riverdale” is already her 14th credit. IMDb confusingly credits her character as both Melody Jones and Melody Valentine.

Valerie Brown is being portrayed by Hayley Law, who is new to acting. “Riverdale” is her first role, but she’s currently filming a guest appearance on a television series.

Yeah, all of them are black, whereas only Valerie is black in all previous incarnations. This caused fans to complain. Personally, I don’t mind as long as they can sing some kick-ass rock songs. Also, I love that they’re using the last names from the 2001 movie.

Now for some minor teen characters.

Dilton Doiley is a bit of a mystery. He’s initially being portrayed by Daniel Yang. This is his first role. Yeah, he’s Asian (or at least part-Asian), but it doesn’t matter to me. What’s odd, though, is the cast list at the front of Camila Mendes’ script for episode 10 confirms Dilton has been recast. He’s later portrayed by Major Curda, who IMDb credits for only episode 03, oddly. He started acting in 2010, but “Riverdale” is already his 24th credit. He’s Asian too.

Tina Patel (Raj’s little sister) is being portrayed by Olivia Ryan Stern.

Marmaduke “Moose” Mason is being portrayed by Cody Kearsley.

Ginger Lopez is being portrayed by Caitlin Mitchell-Markovitch.

Ethel Muggs is being portrayed by Shannon Purser. She was born on June 27, 1997.

Charles “Chuck” Clayton is being portrayed by Jordan Calloway. He was born on October 18, 1990 (exactly 12 years after me), making him way too old for the role.

Let’s look at the parents and other adults.

Fred Andrews is being portrayed by Coy Luther “Luke” Perry III, who looks nothing like the Fred Andrews of the comics or the previous cartoons, but I get what they’re going for: the Riverdale gang are the children of the 90210 generation. He was born on October 11, 1966.

Mary Andrews is being portrayed by Molly Ringwald, which I like. She was born on February 18, 1968. She won’t be on the show much.

Alice Cooper is being portrayed by Mädchen E. Amick. She was born on December 12, 1970.

Harold “Hal” Cooper is being portrayed by Locklyn Munro. He was born on February 12, 1966.

Polly Cooper is being portrayed by Tiera Skovbye. She’ll be a recurring character. Li’L Polly is being portrayed by Kadence Kendall Roach.

Hermione Lodge is being portrayed by Marisol Nichols. She was born on November 2, 1973 (she’s not quite five years older than me), and she’s a fellow Chicagoan. She was Audrey Griswold in “Vegas Vacation”. They really de-aged Hermione for this series, which is nice, since there’s no longer a joke of whether Veronica is adopted. She has Spanish and Mexican on her mother’s side and Hungarian and Romanian on her father’s side.

Penelope Blossom is being portrayed by Nathalie Boltt.

Clifford “Cliff” Blossom is being portrayed by Barclay Hope.

Geraldine Grundy is being portrayed by Sarah Evelyn Habel. She was born on July 30, 1982. Yeah, they really de-aged her and sexed her up for this series, which caused complaints among the fans. This is the one change that I feel deserves the backlash, though. Why use Ms. Grundy for such a role instead of creating a new character?

Pop Tate is being portrayed by Alvin Sanders.

Smithers is being portrayed by Tom McBeath.

Coach Clayton is being portrayed by Colin Lawrence.

As for the other actors, I’ll leave their coverage for their first appearances.

My Thoughts So Far

I’ve watched the trailers. I’ve watched interviews. I have a basic idea of what this series is going to be like.

Members of the cast and executive producers attended San Diego Comic-Con in July to promote the series. They premiered the first episode there, seemingly to a positive response. It’s gotten some good reviews online since then. Luke Perry has said in interviews that there is plenty of humor in the scripts – “a lot of light amongst the dark”. I’m cautiously optimistic and going into it with an open mind.

Riverdale-promo-Good-Place.jpg“Riverdale” premieres tonight on The CW at 9:00 PM, EST. Enjoy the show, and I’ll see you next Wednesday…in a little town called Riverdale.

Archie’s Weird Mysteries, Episode 01 – Attack of the Killer Spuds

I’m sorry that this is late. My workplace dicked with my schedule for this week.

Writer: Brian Swenlin
Director: Robby Benson
Original Air Date: Saturday, October 2, 1999
Length: 22:19

AWM-promo.jpgTwelve years after “The New Archies” and nine years after the TV movie, DiC coproduced another Archie cartoon series, this time able to use the teenage versions of the characters (I guess the movie rights lapsed with whoever had held them). It was coproduced with Les Studios Tex (which doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry) and “Riverdale Productions and Kent/QMA”, which, from what I can tell, is Archie Comics. Apparently, the series was animated in China, and all video and audio post-production was done in France.

The series aired on PAX in the United States and Teletoon in Canada in the 1999-2000 television season. If you don’t know what PAX is, don’t worry, neither did a lot of other people back then. It was a minor network, a bit more than a year old at the time, and the predecessor of Ion Television, which is now mostly known for rerunning a bunch of cop series (L&O, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, etc.) from other networks. Yeah, they have a bit of original programming, but they really might as well rename themselves Cop TV.

I didn’t see this series during its original run (because what the fuck is PAX?), but it was in syndication for many years afterward, so I managed to watch the entire series. This is the second of three series that I’ll be reviewing in full on this blog, because I really like it.

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The series was eventually released on DVD in North America on Tuesday, February 21, 2012, by Cookie Jar, the kids’ division of Mill Creek Entertainment, a discount DVD company.

The DVD release is pretty poor. It’s a four-disc set. For a series that ran 40 episodes, that meant cramming 10 episodes on each disc (which are dual-layered, at least). But that’s not all. They also added a “bonus” episode on the first three discs. Disc 1 has the “Sabrina: The Animated Series” episode, “La Femme Sabrina”. Disc 2 has the “Sabrina’s Secret Life” episode, “Rather, Rinse, Repent”. Disc 3 has an episode of “Mona the Vampire”. Also, each disc has a commercial, running 3:45, for their various releases.

I took a look at the tech specs of the first disc. Everything is encoded at a variable bit rate of 7500 kbps. That’s not bad, I guess, but it uses up only 7.1 GB of a dual-layer DVD’s 8.5 GB capacity, leaving a lot of space to go to waste. Also, I remember seeing encoding errors when watching the DVD set on my TV, so I’ll make note of those when I spot them.

Here is the main voice cast:

Andrew Rannells – Archie Andrews
America Young (credited as Danielle Young) – Betty Cooper (first role)
Camille Schmidt – Veronica Lodge
Paul Sosso – Reggie Mantle
Chris Lundquist – Jughead Jones
Ben Beck – Dilton Doiley

I guess I should talk about the premise of the series. When this series aired on TV, it included two commercials. One aired right before the “Riverdale Reporter” segment (see below) and let you know it was coming up. The second commercial aired…during the first break, after the opening theme song, I think. One or both of these commercials (I know the second one did for sure) explained the backstory. Riverdale has become a “magnet for all things weird” after an experiment in the high school physics lab “went awry”. The thing is the commercial used footage from a later episode to depict the experiment in question, which is wrong. There is no origin episode in this series. I don’t know who narrated these commercials.

The commercials and the commercial bumpers were removed for the DVD release, which is a fucking shame, because they’re as much a part of the series as the stories themselves. Couldn’t Cookie Jar have provided at least one copy of them as a bonus feature?

The commercial bumpers / eyecatches were fun. They featured still images of a particular character, who would narrate whatever was written on the screen. I have episodes on VHS and DVD-R, but there are two problems with one cause: my DVD recorder is broken. I can no longer capture stuff from my VHS tapes. Also, I never finalized the DVD-Rs after I recorded the episodes off the air, making the discs unplayable elsewhere. Getting my DVD recorder fixed (or getting a replacement of the same model) would solve the problem, but it’s over $100 for a used one. There’s more affordable hardware and software to capture VHS directly to the computer, so I might look into that. I might eventually be able to share the missing stuff with you.

I can give you the text that the characters spoke during the bumpers from memory (except Archie; amusingly, I forget his):

Betty: “Don’t touch that remote! We’ll be right back!”
Jughead: “We’re back! And I’m still hungry.”
Dilton: “We’ll be back faster than you can say Pythagorean theorem.”
Veronica: “And now back to Archiekins’ Weird Mysteries.”
Reggie: “Now back to Reggie’s…Archie’s Weird Mysteries.”

Anyway, it was Archie Comics itself that provided the origin story (the true experiment that led to this mess) – but only after the series had already started airing. First, they published a 12-page free comic, cover-dated September of 1999:

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The ongoing series started in February of 2000 (cover date) and ran for 24 issues, the last “weird” issue cover-dated December of 2002, long after all of the episodes had aired. It then dropped the “Weird” from the title (the weirdness had left Riverdale) but kept the numbering and was revamped into a CSI rip-off:

Archie's-Mysteries-25.jpg

This incarnation didn’t last long, putting out 10 issues (cover-dated February of 2003 to June of 2004) before being cancelled.

The issues are expensive now, and I’m sorry that I sold or gave away my copies (but I kept the issues of “Archie’s Mysteries” that Fernando Ruiz sent me as a gift), but a 128-page trade paperback was released (there’s also a digital version), and it’s very affordable, so you can check that out if you want some more weirdness.

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One more note before we get into the episode: the continuity is a big mess. This series is supposed to occur during junior year (it’ll eventually be mentioned), but the episodes skip around the calendar year. If the time of year is mentioned in an episode, I’ll be sure to note it.

Okay, let’s dive into the weirdness:

awm-01-01-riverdale-reporter-1awm-01-02-riverdale-reporter-2Each episode is preceded by a “Riverdale Reporter” segment. “Riverdale Reporter” is supposedly the name of the school newspaper, but the name is never mentioned outside these segments. A drawing unique to the episode is shown, and then various clips from the upcoming episode are played, framed within the newspaper, followed by a repeat of the drawing. Meanwhile, creepy music plays, and a spooky narrator previews the episode. I think this is meant to sound like the narrator in an old-time horror movie trailer or perhaps like a TV horror host. I don’t know who did the voice, but I would guess Jerry Longe, who is the sole other credited main cast member and will voice two characters sporadically throughout the series. These segments runs 20 seconds and are immediately followed by the opening theme (no fade out or fade in).

awm-01-03-series-titleThe theme song is pretty catchy. The music is sufficiently “creepy”, and the lyrics are a bit funny. The theme song runs 1 minute and was composed and performed by Mike Piccirillo, who cowrote the music for the series with Jean-Michel Guirao. The sequence is comprised of shots from various episodes.

awm-01-04-episode-titleAfter the commercial break, the episode opens on a shot of Riverdale.

awm-01-05-jones-houseWe then see Jughead’s house.

awm-01-06-jughead-watchingawm-01-07-jughead-archie-couchArchie is criticizing Jughead for watching a horror movie marathon, even though he’s already seen the movie. They argue about it. Archie wants to go out bike-riding, but Jughead’s glued to the TV.

awm-01-08-jughead-archie-carThe next day, Archie is driving Jughead somewhere and is surprised and disappointed to learn Jughead sat in front of the TV for twelve hours.

awm-01-09-approaching-stationawm-01-10-stationArchie’s taking Jughead to the TV station to claim a prize for a contest that he’d won. Archie has Jughead repeat the explanation for the benefit of the audience to refresh his memory.

Flashback time:

awm-01-11-crescent-moonawm-01-12-jughead-zoneWhen the movie marathon ended at midnight, Jughead was “totally in the zone” – when you’re so wrapped up in something that you don’t even notice the world around you.

awm-01-13-contestawm-01-14-contest-2The “lady from the station” came on and offered a prize for the first person that calls in and can name all of the movies in today’s marathon.

awm-01-15-jughead-phoneJughead explains freebies or food can snap him out of the zone.

awm-01-16-station-entranceawm-01-17-security-cameraawm-01-18-guys-watchedThe guys are being watched as they approach the TV station.

Once they enter the building, Archie points out Jughead’s stupid prize (which Jughead apparently wasn’t told about over the phone):

awm-01-19-potato-prizeJughead is unimpressed.

awm-01-20-anchor-possessedThe anchor (or whatever she is), quite obviously possessed, insists it’s a “lucky potato”. Jughead sarcastically thanks her and picks up his prize, and Archie drags “Spudboy” off.

awm-01-21-anchor-evilawm-01-22-anchor-walksCould you be a bit less subtle, show? I’m not quite getting it.

awm-01-23-real-anchorIt turns out that she’s just a potato duplicate of the real anchor, who’s in a potato trance.

I’m starting to think this series doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Anyway, Potato!Anchor refers to the real anchor as “the Earthling” and explains to “Master” that the contest itself was real, but she took over and offered the potato as the prize.

awm-01-24-great-potato“Master” watches from the shadows.

awm-01-25-jones-house-twilightawm-01-26-jughead-archieLater that afternoon, at twilight, Jughead’s watching another horror movie marathon. Archie admonishes him for it.

awm-01-27-hot-dog-potatoHot Dog sniffs the potato, and it grows slightly, scaring him. Thankfully, Hot Dog doesn’t have thoughts on this series.

Archie mentions the big Riverdale-Springfield game tonight, but Jughead gets on his case for blocking the view.

awm-01-28-jughead-archie-couchArchie warns him that he’s going to turn into a couch potato, which is what Potato!Anchor called him back at the station.

Archie lectures him a bit more. Jughead says he’ll catch him at Pop’s tomorrow. Archie leaves.

awm-01-29-jughead-attackedThat night, Jughead is so wrapped up in the movie that he’s watching that he fails to notice the potato growing and wrapping him up for real.

Why did Jughead keep the potato by the couch instead of in his bedroom? This, by the way, is one of the big questions of the series: Where the fuck are the parents most of the time? Why do Jughead’s parents allow him to sit up the whole night, watching TV?

awm-01-30-potato-duplicates-jugheadawm-01-31-potato-jugheadThe potato takes on Jughead’s form.

awm-01-32-hot-dog-scaredHot Dog is frightened.

Then it cuts to the exterior of the house as Hot Dog barks, and all of the lights (except the porch lights and attic light) turn off. Um, why?

awm-01-33-station-nightFade out. Fade back in. (It’s difficult to tell where the commercial breaks are without the bumpers.) At the TV station, we see the same room from earlier, but the real anchor isn’t present. We see potato growth along the floor, and then…

awm-01-34-great-potatoFade out. Fade in.

awm-01-35-riverdaleawm-01-36-popsawm-01-37-chuck-nancyThe next day, at Pop’s (which doesn’t have a sign), we get silent cameos from Chuck and Nancy.

Archie, Betty, and Dilton walk in. Betty’s getting a little worried about Jughead, and so is Archie.

awm-01-38-betty-pointsThey have different concerns, though:

awm-01-39-jughead-potawm-01-40-potato-jughead“Dirt is good for you, Arch.”

awm-01-41-dilton-archie-betty-wtf“What the fuck are you on?”

awm-01-42-dirty-feetOkay, so the potato duplicates have to stand in dirt to absorb nutrients through their feet. Got it.

awm-01-43-veronicaVeronica’s like “Dick be crazy.”

awm-01-44-reggieReggie suggests Archie make it one of his stories, which pisses Archie off for some reason.

awm-01-45-archie-jugheadArchie gets no reaction from “Jughead”. Has he just stopped moving for some reason?

awm-01-46-dilton-bettyDilton guesses Jughead is suffering from sleep deprivation (Betty looks like she doesn’t fucking care). Archie angrily asks Jughead if he stayed up all night in front of “that tube” again. He gets no response.

awm-01-47-reggie-friesReggie tries to lure Jughead with some of Pop’s sexy french fries, and Jughead jumps and slides across their table. Dilton and Betty look at each other like “WTF?”

awm-01-48-veronica-dirtyVeronica’s concerned about the food that’s now on her “blouse”, which came from Paris. This is, by all appearances, a dress. Maybe it’s a really long blouse, and Veronica is wearing short shorts (or less) under it.

awm-01-49-dilton-betty-laughRegardless, Dilton and Betty share a laugh over her misfortune.

“Jughead” declares “I’d never eat french-fried potatos. No one ever should.” This dumbfounds Reggie, and Archie takes it as a sign of sleep deprivation. He wants “Jughead” to go home and sleep.

awm-01-50-jughead-potatoes“Jughead” passes out potatoes and tells them to keep his “new friends” company while he’s gone. He picks up his pot and leaves. Betty’s worried about him, but Archie thinks he’ll be normal after a good night’s sleep.

Betty reminds Archie about him coming over for a movie tonight, and he confirms. He suggests they get outta here before “Pops” finds this mess. What the fuck is it with Archie getting Pop’s name wrong?!

awm-01-51-pop-mopPop (Ryle Smith) stops him. The scene ends as Archie laughs nervously. Do they tell him that Jughead made the mess, or are they forced to clean up his place?

awm-01-52-cooper-house-nightawm-01-53-betty-archie-couchThat night, at Betty’s house, she and Archie are watching a movie. There’s a bit where we hear their thoughts and learn how nervous that they are about showing the least bit of affection. For fuck’s sake, these two were five years behind me in school (I was Class of 1996; they’re Class of 2001), and couples in my school had no problem kissing in school. Hell, during junior year, guys that I sat with in class talked about getting blowjobs, and a girl in my homeroom during sophomore year talked about getting humped in bed. Why are these two dumbasses worried about cuddling?

awm-01-54-betty-potatoBetty’s potato grows and touches her in a way that Archie never has.

Archie finally notices what’s going on (Betty consciously decided to not look so as to not scare Archie off). Oh, and the potato destroys Betty’s purse.

Archie tries to warn Betty.

awm-01-55-betty-zoneIt’s too late, though. She’s in the zone.

He tries to free Betty. When that doesn’t work, he kicks the potato away. He then frees Betty, who’s disoriented. He grabs her by the wrist, and they run away. He asks if she’s okay. She is, and she asks what’s going on. He doesn’t know but suggests they talk to Jughead. She agrees.

awm-01-56-jughead-zoneAt Jughead’s, the TV’s showing nothing but static (is the station off the air, due to the potato duplicates?), and Jughead and Hot Dog are in the zone.

Archie declares “Something really weird is going on.” He and Betty discuss it for a bit (including the current whereabouts of the potatoes), and Betty decides she’s gonna call the police.

Potato!Jughead scares her, and she trips over a potato stem and falls to the floor.

awm-01-57-potato-hot-dogA potato has even taken on Hot Dog’s form, because that’s totally necessary to their world-domination plans.

Archie is dumbfounded.

awm-01-58-archie-questionsAfter the commercial break, Potato!HotDog has disappeared. Archie asks what “Jughead” is. Potato!Jughead explains he was once a mere potato, but he’s “been liberated by the Master, freed by the Great Potato”.

awm-01-59-great-potatoThere’s a brief cut to the TV station (still no sign of the real anchor) to emphasize the point.

Potato!Jughead shares his thoughts and does his bidding. Thanks to him, starting tonight, “potatoes will rule the Earth”. He kicks some potatoes out of his bag, and one of them grows around Betty.

awm-01-60-betty-potatoawm-01-61-potato-hot-dogArchie goes to help her but is prevented by the timely reappearance of Potato!HotDog.

awm-01-62-dishPotato!Jughead explains it’s too late; even now, the Master’s thoughts are being broadcast to all of the potatoes of Riverdale.

Y’know, this plan really makes no sense. It’s reliant on 1) everyone in Riverdale having a potato 2) that’s sitting in front of a TV 3) that’s tuned to Riverdale’s shitty low-powered station. Somehow, I doubt Veronica would be watching Riverdale’s local shit station.

awm-01-63-lodge-mansionawm-01-64-veronica-phoneawm-01-65-veronica-potatoOh, I guess she is.

awm-01-66-dilton-labawm-01-67-potatoHow is a potato sitting in Dilton’s lab effected? Where the ones that Potato!Jughead handed out pre-liberated?

awm-01-68-pop-potatoBut what about the bag of potatoes in Pop’s kitchen?

awm-01-69-reggie-kitchenawm-01-70-reggie-zoneWhy are there nothing but potatoes in Reggie’s fridge?

awm-01-71-great-potatoawm-01-72-anchor-zoneHuh, the anchor’s back. Did the Great Potato send her to relieve her bladder or something?

awm-01-73-great-potatoawm-01-74-jughead-zoneawm-01-75-great-potatoawm-01-76-betty-zoneawm-01-77-great-potatoawm-01-78-veronica-zoneawm-01-79-great-potatoawm-01-80-pop-zoneThere’s an odd moment when Potato!Jughead says “never having to think or do anything ever again” twice.

awm-01-81-great-potatoawm-01-82-reggie-zoneawm-01-83-great-potatoThe shots of the various people in “the zone” are static shots (except the anchor and Jughead, who are visibly potato-fondled), despite the fact that we still hear “potato growth” sound effects. Pretty cheap.

awm-01-84-betty-legsThere’s one more shot of Betty – for seemingly no reason other than to show off her legs (not that I’m complaining).

awm-01-85-potato-duplicates-bettyawm-01-86-potato-bettyThe potato takes on Betty’s form.

awm-01-87-archie-potatoPotato!Betty calls on Archie to join them, and Potato!Jughead tosses a potato at him (which Archie stupidly catches).

Archie briefly fights with the potato and manages to throw it off, surprising P!J and P!B.

awm-01-88-potatocideThey are aghast at the potatocide.

awm-01-89-archie-happyArchie’s pretty happy with himself, though.

awm-01-90-archie-stompsAnother potato attacks him, and he stomps a bunch of them to death.

awm-01-91-archie-faceThe face of triumph?

awm-01-92-potato-jughead-bettyP!J and P!B give chase, and the show falls back on the trope of Archie having trouble opening the door. He’s finally able to do so, though, and makes a run for it.

awm-01-93-archie-popsArchie drives off into the night, eventually arriving at the seemingly-empty Pop’s. He yells out: “Listen, everyone! We’ve got to hide from the potatoes!” I fucking love that. It’s the kind of cheese that’s to be expected from this series.

awm-01-94-potato-veronica“Oh, Archiekins! You can’t hide from the potatoes!” Yes! More! Give me more!

awm-01-95-potato-reggie-popArchie runs outside and drives off. He decides to try the police.

awm-01-96-shadowA shadowy figure rises from the back seat.

awm-01-97-diltonOh, it’s Dilton. He warns Archie to not do that.

Dilton clasps Archie’s shoulder, causing him to freak out and crash. Brilliant move, genius.

awm-01-98-dilton-2It’s then “revealed” it’s Dilton (as if we didn’t already know). He apologizes to Archie for nearly killing him and asks if he’s okay. Archie asks if it’s really him. Dilton says yes and says he tried the police, warning Archie away from it.

Archie is in disbelief over “potato zombies” and mentions the Great Potato. Dilton detected microwave transmissions with his lab equipment and suggests stopping them, so the potatoes will return to normal. How? They’ve already been “liberated”. Do they have to be in constant contact with the Great Potato to be “alive”?

Anyway, remembering Jughead’s prize, Archie guesses the transmissions are coming from the TV station. They head there.

awm-01-99-potato-jugheadPotato-Jughead was hiding nearby (somehow) and overheard everything. How the fuck did he get to the random street that Archie was driving down?

awm-01-100-station-nightArchie and Dilton arrive at the TV station.

awm-01-101-archie-diltonThey look inside but can’t get to the controls with all of the potatoes in there.

awm-01-102-archie-dilton-towerDilton suggests overriding them directly from the transmission tower and points out the control box.

awm-01-103-potato-zombiesOf course, it won’t be easy.

awm-01-104-potato-zombies-2After the commercial break, the potato zombies continue to approach. Archie and Dilton stands around like a couple of dumbasses and watch for a while before suddenly deciding to yell and run away.

awm-01-105-potato-zombies-3The potato zombies (slowly) give chase. Really, how are zombies even a threat if they’re so fucking slow?

The potato zombies throw potatoes at Archie and Dilton. Dilton feels the need to put this into words.

awm-01-106-dilton-caughtA potato sprouts and catches Dilton.

awm-01-107-archie-stompsawm-01-108-potato-deadArchie kills it.

Archie helps Dilton to his feet, and they run to the tower.

awm-01-109-dilton-girlsThe potato babes catch Dilton.

Archie pauses and looks for a while, and then he continues climbing. Dilton cheers him on.

awm-01-110-dilton-shut-upPotato!Betty forces Dilton to give a potato oral.

awm-01-111-dilton-potatoawm-01-112-potato-fiveWhy are the potato zombies giving each other five like real teens?

awm-01-113-dilton-risesThen, from all appearances, Dilton himself rises as a potato zombie. Yeah, I realize there’s probably meant to be an unseen transformation sequence, and this is a duplicate, but it doesn’t come off that way.

Regardless, he joins the climb after Archie.

Archie pauses and looks down again for a bit like a dumbass. The zombies are on his tail.

awm-01-114-no-zombiesSeen here: no zombies.

Through the power of inconsistent animation, the zombies re-appear, and Potato!Jughead manages to grab hold of Archie’s leg. Archie kicks him off and opens the control box.

He then lets out a celebratory cheer like a dumbass instead of, y’know, turning off the motherfucking transmission!

awm-01-115-archie-reggieThat’s what happens, man.

P!J puts a potato on Archie’s leg.

awm-01-116-potato-jughead“Time to become one with the Great Potato!” I fucking love this show.

Archie shakes off Potato!Reggie and climbs back up to the control box. The potato on his leg is (somehow) preventing his hand from shutting down the transmission.

awm-01-117-great-potatoThe Great Potato is alert.

awm-01-118-archie-switchArchie pulls the switch, shutting down the transmission.

awm-01-119-great-potato“This cannot be! My plan was flawless!”

The potato zombies revert to normal potatoes. Confusing matters, Potato!Dilton reverts to a potato while on the ground, even though he was shown climbing the ladder earlier.

awm-01-120-veronica-freeVeronica wakes up and is grossed out, and then she frees herself from her potato prison. Such is the strength of a socialite.

awm-01-121-reggie-freeawm-01-122-pop-freeawm-01-123-anchor-freeawm-01-124-hot-dog-jughead-freeawm-01-125-dilton-freeThe others do the same – except for Betty. I guess she enjoys being wrapped in gooey potato goodness.

awm-01-126-dilton-potatoesDilton cheers for Archie and then gets hit by belatedly falling potatoes.

Archie wonders about the Great Potato.

awm-01-127-potato-shipThe Great Potato’s alien origins are confirmed.

Due to shitty animation, Archie’s expression suddenly goes from this:

awm-01-128-archie-1to this:

awm-01-129-archie-2awm-01-130-great-potato-1awm-01-131-great-potato-2awm-01-132-great-potato-3awm-01-133-great-potato-4awm-01-134-great-potato-5The Great Potato reveals himself in his full glory and acts all menacing for a while to scare Archie and Dilton.

awm-01-135-great-potato-6awm-01-136-great-potato-steals-dishThen he tries to steal Riverdale’s shitty TV station’s microwave dish, which surely is his key to world domination.

awm-01-137-dilton-yellsDilton yells at Archie to turn on the dish and increase the frequency to full power.

awm-01-138-archie-dialArchie does the latter but not the former.

awm-01-139-great-potato-friedawm-01-140-explosionawm-01-141-explosion-2awm-01-142-great-potato-bakedGood enough, though.

Having been baked (and, presumably, killed), the Great Potato leaves Earth.

awm-01-143-archie-golly“Oh, golly gee willikers, did I do that?!”

Each episode ends with Archie typing up his column, and we hear his thoughts. He (prematurely) says they never saw the Great Potato or his kind again.

awm-01-144-jughead-hot-dog-playawm-01-145-jughead-readsJughead has picked up some new hobbies.

awm-01-146-archie-typesArchie types with one finger, because he has to look all contemplative and shit.

awm-01-147-archie-windowArchie mentions a “weird mystery” for the nation’s big produce suppliers: why no one orders potatoes anymore…

awm-01-148-riverdale-1awm-01-149-riverdale-2…in a little town called Riverdale.

awm-01-150-end-creditsThe end credits use footage from various episodes and an instrumental version of the opening theme. Also, there’s a constant featured image of the gang apparently sharing a five-necked sweater.

awm-01-151-les-studios-texawm-01-152-dic-1awm-01-153-dic-2awm-01-154-buena-vistaSo that’s the first episode of “Archie’s Weird Mysteries“. It actually has some creepy visuals and music. The plot is pretty silly, but it’s standard for this series. The cast is great; the voices definitely fit the characters; they’re the voices that I hear when I read the comics. School is neither seen nor mentioned, so this episode takes place either on the weekend or during summer. I really enjoyed this episode. It feels a bit “creepier” (relatively speaking) than later episodes. The Great Potato looks creepy, and Betty and Veronica have seriously weird grins on their faces when they’re in “the zone”.

Tune in next Wednesday!