Writer: Ray Allen
Director: Gene Nelson
Original Air Date: unaired?
If I had known this was on YouTube (believe me, I looked), I would have reviewed it far earlier.
This was the second attempt to create an Archie television series. The first was a 1962 pilot called “Life with Archie” (which IMDb calls a “TV movie”, implying it actually aired), starring 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).” It’s the general belief that the 1962 pilot has never seen the light of day (though I’ve seen one person claim to have it). I have no info on the plot of the pilot. According to IMDb, ABC produced it. Supposedly, IMDb’s cast list for this pilot is mostly wrong. According to second-hand info, quoting an audio interview with Frank Bank from one of the “Leave It to Beaver” DVD sets, Desilu produced this pilot. Frank said it was “funny and cool” and also said “I thought it was a good show.” He mentioned the cast. In addition to him, “Jimmy Hawkings” (possibly Jimmy Hawkins) was Jughead, Norm Grabowski was Moose, Cheryl Holdridge was Betty (and the only actor to come back in the 1964 pilot), Barbara Parkins was Veronica, and Paul Ford was Mr. Weatherbee.
The second pilot (which I’m reviewing today), called “Archie” but also known as “The Electric Cupid”, is from 1964. According to IMDb, Screen Gems produced it, and ABC distributed it. However, IMDb also gives a runtime of 43 minutes (which is far longer than the version that I downloaded). If it indeed aired as a “TV movie” as IMDb claims, it would have been packed with commercials. I realize my copy might be incomplete (it’s definitely an unusual length), but it feels (mostly) complete to me, and I can’t find a version that’s any longer. Whatever the case, I’m guessing, if the series had been picked up, it would have been a standard half-hour sitcom with a runtime of 20+ minutes. I’m relying on IMDb for some of the cast members of this pilot, because the pilot itself refuses to credit them (see the credits note near the end of the review). Finally, because IMDb incorrectly claims more cast overlap between the two pilots than there actually was, the number of credits for Veronica, Mr. Andrews, and Mr. Weatherbee’s actors is actually one less than what I report below.
The pilot opens with a shot of the Andrews’ house. A logo from the group that uploaded this pilot is in the lower-right corner for a few seconds. Sorry about that.
Mary comes by with the coffee for breakfast. Fred notes Mary hasn’t called Archie yet. Mary checks her watch and says Archie still has “almost a whole minute” and talks about the value of sleep.
Mary Andrews is played by Jean Vander Pyl, the voice of Wilma Flintstone. That was actually her sole role in the last few years of her life. She died on April 10, 1999, at age 79, having racked up 87 credits in a career that spanned 1954-1997.
Fred Andrews is played by William Schallert. He racked up a whopping 382 credits in a huge career that spanned 1947-2014. He died on May 8, 2016, at the age of 93.
They have a bit of a discussion about Archie and Benjamin Franklin.
Mary finds a note attached to a control of some kind (which, somehow, neither of them noticed earlier). In this particular incarnation, contrary to every other depiction, Archie is really interested in science and is an amateur inventor (kind of like Dilton Doiley, I guess). He invites his mom to try out “the newest miracle” by pushing the button when it’s time for him to get up.
Fred’s curiosity is piqued.
Mary pushes the button.
There’s then a neat special effect (which I initially mistook for tape damage) where the audience basically goes up to the second floor to check on Archie.
Archie’s machine starts up.
A pre-recorded tape starts playing, giving the impression that Archie is actually waking up. How Archie is not actually waking up, due to all of this noise, is anyone’s guess.
The machine also moves Archie’s shoes to make it seem like he’s walking around.
Downstairs, Mary and Fred are impressed.
Upstairs, the machine releases the shade on Archie’s window, letting it open. It also somehow shuts the window.
Downstairs, Mary wishes Archie would fix the window shade and remember to stop banging the window.
Upstairs, the machine turns on Archie’s shower. Archie starts singing on the tape.
Downstairs, Fred is having his doubts. He knows Archie doesn’t drink (this was in 1964, but even then it was an issue that had to be considered), and he dismisses the ideas that he brought his entire class home to spend the night or has a horse in his room, but then he suddenly changes his mind, because he hears Archie tap-dancing in the shower with his shoes on. He goes upstairs to investigate, but Mary think he’s being silly and tells Fred to tell Archie that she’s putting his breakfast on the table.
Fred is denied entry to Archie’s bedroom.
He finally gets in, gets past the machine, shuts off the shower, and wakes Archie up.
He has Archie turn the machine off. Archie is impressed that his machine worked. Fred’s like “What the fuck?”
Archie’s like “I needed extra sleep. I was up ’til four.”
Archie Andrews is played by John Simpson. This was his first role. After this pilot wasn’t picked up to series, his sole other acting role was as a zombie in “Night of the Living Dead”, four years later. IMDb gives an “alternative name” of Paul Simpson and says he’s a retired calculus teacher living in Clymer, Pennsylvania.
Fred brings up Archie’s hero:
They exchange quotes. Fred’s like “What were you doing up that late?” Archie’s like “Building this.” Ha.
Fred gives up and leaves. Fade out.
The opening title sequence consists of a series of characters, each saying “Archie” in a different way:
The opening theme song starts up. It’s a typical theme song from that era. Kinda goofy but fun. It sounds kind of like a commercial jingle.
The picture cuts out shortly before the song abruptly ends. Keep in mind that this is just a pilot.
Archie starts talking about “talking man to man” and “bridg[ing] the gulf between the generations”. He also mentions Fred is a psychologist. Fred cuts through the bullshit and immediately turns down whatever Archie wants before he even asks it. After a bit of dry humor, Fred points out that Archie got his full allowance only three days ago. Archie explain Betty asked him to take her to the “PTA Get Acquainted Party”, and he’s gotta get her a corsage. Fred’s like “Tough shit.” (Side note: “scooties” is mid-1960s teen slang for dollars.)
Fred foresees Veronica making Archie take him and advises not asking Betty (I thought Betty asked him) until he knows Veronica won’t pull some shit. Archie gives the typical line about being unable to make up his mind between them. Fred finds this amusing.
Archie asks Fred how to know who’s the right girl. Fred gives us a fun word to use: propinquity. Yeah, he believes proximity, not any other factor, is responsible for pairing people up.
Fred quickly makes an exception for himself and Mary. They’re totally soulmates. But then Fred mentions the “remarkable coincidence” that she “happened to live in the next block”.
The doorbell (which sounds like a telephone) rings. Archie gets up and opens the door.
It’s Betty, here to pick up Archie, so they can walk to school together.
Betty Cooper is played by Cheryl Holdridge. She had a sporadic career, racking up only 28 credits from 1956 to 2000 (with the vast majority of her work being in the 1960s). She died on January 6, 2009, at the too-young age of 64.
Mary gets on Archie’s case for not carrying Betty’s books. Betty says they’re all Archie’s books; he left them over at her house last night. How does one manage to do that? And where are Betty’s books? AND WHY THE FUCK ISN’T ARCHIE CARRYING HIS OWN BOOKS?!
Anyway, Betty and Archie leave, and Fred makes a “joke” about Betty not holding the door open for Archie.
Fade out. Fade back in.
We get an exterior shot of Riverdale High School.
In his office, a weary Mr. Weatherbee looks at the incoming students and then talks to himself about his problems. When I say talks to himself, I mean he has a back-and-forth conversation with himself. We actually hear his inner voice respond. It basically boils down to Archie being the source of his problems. Oh, and Riverdale High’s student population is 800.
Mr. Weatherbee is played by Roland Winters. He racked up 102 credits (plus he wrote 3 stories for theater-based shows) in a career that spanned 1941-1982. He died on October 22, 1989, at the age of 84.
As Betty and Archie walk down a hall, they’re joined by Veronica, who hands Archie a blueprint. Archie gives an extra book to Betty to carry, so he can take a look at the blueprint. Ass.
Jughead comes by and asks Archie about it.
Archie explains they’re the plans for the new “electronic computing machine” that Mr. Lodge put in his bank. Veronica borrowed them for Archie. Why would Mr. Lodge let Archie, of all people, get a hold of this? Or does he not know Archie has it?
Veronica Lodge is played by Mikki Jamison. She racked up 22 credits in a career that spanned 1962-1978. She died on June 10, 2013, at the too-young age of 70.
Veronica casually pulls Jughead out of the way of her locker. I fucking love that.
Veronica, in the most seductive, come-fuck-me way possible, suggests Archie drop the plans by her house this evening. Archie agrees, saying it’s the least that he could do. Oh, I’m sure that you’ll be doing plenty more, Arch. Betty sees this for what it is but doesn’t say anything.
Archie and Jughead orgasm over computers for a bit. Archie wants to use the bank’s computer. Jughead asks what he’d use it for. Archie doesn’t know yet.
Jughead Jones is played by Jerry Brite. This pilot was literally his only role. IMDb doesn’t even claim he was in the 1962 pilot.
More of Mr. Weatherbee talking to himself about Archie.
Class is about to start.
Miss Grundy is played by Mary Grace Canfield. She racked up 44 credits in a career that spanned 1954-1993. Her most famous roles are probably Harriet Kravitz on “Bewitched” and Ralph Monroe on “Green Acres”. Further witchy work includes a guest spot on “Tabitha” (the “Bewitched” spinoff). She died on February 15, 2014, at the age of 89.
She reads a “social note” from the PTA president, Mrs. Finch, even though the note itself was actually written by Mr. Weatherbee. Why does Miss Grundy have to read this? Why doesn’t Mr. Weatherbee announce it to the entire school over the intercom? Anyway, there’s a PTA Get-Together Party this Saturday night. Oh, and Mr. Weatherbee’s initials are L.J.; I guess they hadn’t decided on his first name being Waldo yet. Insert “Where’s Waldo?” joke here.
Jughead whispers advice about getting an A for the semester: fix it so Miss Grundy has a date with Mr. Weatherbee.
Miss Grundy makes a sarcastic comment about the students’ lack of enthusiasm for the dance. She has to go into the next classroom for a moment and tells them to start reading chapter 14 or daydream about the dance. She then suddenly gets all serious and leaves.
Jughead asks a girl named Buffie to the party. She playfully tells him that he’s “so funny” (which is a really nice way of saying “Fuck off”). Jughead, uncharacteristically, says he’s a “lover”, not a comedian.
Buffie is played by Kathy Bennett. She had a very short, albeit very prolific, career, racking up 12 credits (16 separate roles) from 1962 to 1964. This was her next-to-last role. No idea what happened to her.
Reggie comes by and says, for a lover, Jughead’s pretty funny. Buffie finds that hilarious. Jughead doesn’t.
Reggie Mantle is played by Wayne Adams. He acted in only 3 things from 1963 to 1965 (this being his middle role).
Reggie asks Veronica to the party. Veronica want to go with Archie.
Betty tells “dear heart” that Archie’s taking her. What’s with the romantic-sounding nickname?
Archie tells them to calm the fuck down. Jughead guesses even Rock Hudson doesn’t have Archie’s kind of trouble. Sometimes, Archie doesn’t think they care about him; they’re the Giants and the Packers, and he’s just their football. That’s…actually pretty accurate.
Veronica asks Betty to bet her allowance against Veronica’s over Archie not taking Veronica, giving Betty considerable odds. Betty starts getting into Veronica’s dad’s wealth, and Archie tells them to either stop fighting or stop being best friends. Both of them tell him to fuck off.
Miss Grundy returns. Everyone returns to their seats.
She wants to get started on the chapter and tells everyone to keep quiet.
Reggie points at Archie, and a sound effect tries to convince us that he threw something at him. Archie yells.
Miss Grundy yells at Archie. Betty takes the blame. Miss Grundy tells Betty to “subdue [her] protective instincts” and sends Archie to the principal’s office. Jughead protests, saying Archie is a “three-time loser”. What the fuck does that have to do with anything? Archie picks up his stuff and leaves. The rest of the students sing the funeral march as he walks out. Miss Grundy tells them to shut the fuck up and tells Archie to just follow the rug that he’s worn (despite the fact that there aren’t rugs in the hallways). Why doesn’t Archie explain what happened? Also, Veronica must have seen it. Why doesn’t she say anything?
During the transition to the next scene, the music score picks up the funeral march. That’s pretty cool.
Archie walks into the main office and over to Mr. Weatherbee’s receptionist, Miss Kenny (in the comics, the receptionist is Miss Phlips, though I don’t know if she’d appeared yet in the comics or not). Archie flirts with her for a bit. He asks about the mood of “the warden”. She says rough, adding Mrs. Finch is in there.
Miss Kenney is played by Maggie Pierce. She racked up 43 credits in a career that spanned 1959-1967. She died on April 5, 2010, at the age of 78.
Archie goes and listens in on the conversation.
Basically, Mrs. Finch is on Mr. Weatherbee’s case for not pushing kids to attend the party, and Mr. Weatherbee’s like “Fuck off, it’s their choice.”
Mrs. Finch is played by Harriet E. MacGibbon. She racked up 52 credits in a career that spanned 1930-1980. She died on February 8, 1987, at the age of 81.
Anyway, Mr. Weatherbee has to put up with both Mrs. Finch and his inner voice. Mrs. Finch is concerned that only the popular students, not the shy ones, always attend.
Why the fuck is Archie sitting like that?
Anyway, he has an idea of how to get out of trouble.
“ZOMG! Best. Idea. EVER!”
Yeah, Archie wants to use the bank’s “electrical computer” to pair the students up in an early version of computer matchmaking.
Ignoring Mr. Weatherbee’s protests and appealing to Mrs. Finch, Archie pitches his idea. Mr. Weatherbee says a computer won’t drag the shy students to the dance. Archie says it will give them an excuse, and then he brings up propinquity. Mrs. Finch mentions her late husband and her grew up only three doors apart.
Mrs. Finch is sold on the idea, tells Mr. Weatherbee that he will cooperate, tells Archie that he’s “a nice boy”, thanks him, and leaves.
Mr. Weatherbee is about to go out and ask Miss Kenney but then figures out on his own that Archie had been listening in. Archie doesn’t deny it and wants to start putting their idea into action. They banter for a bit about terminology and Mr. Weatherbee’s worries and their supposed friendship, and then Mr. Weatherbee tells Archie to get the fuck out without asking why he was in the office in the first place.
During lunch, the gang is making a big spectacle of handing out computer cards to the students. Apparently, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead are to punch the cards according to each student’s size, weight, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. Do they even know how to do that? Did they take a crash course in computing? Anyway, on Friday afternoon, in the gym, an “electronic computer” will match them with their perfect date for the Get Acquainted Party.
Veronica seductively rubs her card on two guys like it’s dripping with her cum or something, and she gets them to each pay a nickel in the hope of getting paired with her. Archie praises this tactic.
Oh, and “chappies” is mid-1960s slang for guys, apparently.
Jughead announces the arrival of “the champ of the bashful ones”:
Mildred. She’s played by Karen Green. She racked up 28 credits in a sporadic career that spanned 1952-2006 (mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, though the 1970s was technically her only inactive decade). No idea what happened to her.
Archie calls out to Mildred. She runs away. He gives chase.
He offers her a card (unpunched, I guess). She snatches it and runs away.
Archie gets two girls to agree to his scheme. The one in the glasses didn’t want to “break training” (I think that’s what she said), but the other says “I will if you will”, and that convinces her. I have no idea what that was about. The actors are uncredited.
One guy claims he bought his “ticket” (maybe he means for the dance, but that’s not relevant here) purely out of scientific curiosity; he wants to see how the computer works. Archie promises he’ll see it and get a perfect date on Friday afternoon. I thought this was going to lead to some kind of investigation subplot, but the guy just accepts it and thanks Archie. The actor is uncredited.
Veronica takes Archie aside to speak with him privately.
“So, um, hehe, I totally lied; you can’t use the computer; I fully admit I’m a fucking bitch, but you didn’t wanna go with me, so I didn’t ask Daddy.”
Archie basically reiterates what Veronica just said, like he’s just coming to this realization.
A self-satisfied Veronica congratulates “chappie” on his amazing intellect.
Archie doesn’t want to break his date with Betty and appeals to Veronica to look at the “poor, bashful kids” and think about their hopes of getting laid. Veronica is unmoved. Archie leaves in frustration and takes Betty behind the stage to break their date privately. Betty slaps him (off-screen).
Veronica is pleased.
Archie runs after Betty.
Jughead comes by and asks what “sparked” that. Veronica says electricity is wonderful, but there are some things that a girl just has to handle herself.
Archie catches up with Betty and apologizes to her. She’s still pissed at him. We learn she was crazy about him even before his voice changed.
Veronica tells “chappie” to leave everything to the “magic machine”. Was the term “chappie” really common back then?
Reggie comes over and feeds Veronica a lie about overhearing Archie planning to take Betty to the dance once he’s done with the computer.
Archie tells Betty that he’s gonna put a card in for her to guarantee her a date for the party.
Betty laughs it off.
Reggie spins it as Betty and Archie laughing at Veronica. Betty goes into the school. Reggie suggests Veronica “beat Archie to the punch” by telling him that she’s going to the party with Reggie.
“Nose out, Reggie!” I guess that’s mid-1960s slang for “Mind your own fucking business!”
Veronica takes Archie behind the stage and slaps him (off-screen).
In Mr. Weatherbee’s office, he’s on the phone with Mrs. Finch and giving her a positive update regarding the dance – but then has a hard time ending the conversation.
It seems the beginning of this scene was cut (I guess), because Miss Grundy tries to resume a conversation from before the phone call. She mentions she argued with Mr. Weatherbee about Archie’s plan, but she still doesn’t have a partner for the party.
“Get the fuck out.” Damn, dude, can’t you tell she wants you?
Miss Grundy leaves, disappointed.
Fade out. Fade back in.
That night, Archie’s got Jughead over. Archie’s working on a scheme. Jughead suggests calling Veronica again. Archie refuses to beg after Veronica’s turned him down eleven times already.
Archie’s plan is to make a fake computer, and Jughead will sit inside it and pair up the students (this isn’t stated yet, but it will become apparent soon).
Fred comes in. Jughead and Fred impersonate German scientists.
They do a test run:
Fred compliments them. Archie asks his dad about the (unseen) ethical question (regarding what they’re doing) that he’d asked earlier (was something cut?). Fred’s okay with it, justifying it as a means of getting boys and girls together, so propinquity can take over. He then lists a bunch of “illusions” in romance: music, flowers, perfume, and the moon. Archie is surprised but pleased, because he “knew” he was “right all along” but appreciates his dad explaining why.
Later, downstairs, Fred asks Mary if they over-Spocked Archie. Mary laughs and says she thinks they Spocked him just right. They hear some sound effects or whatever coming from upstairs (it goes unexplained; probably has to do with the “computer”).
Fade out. Fade back in.
The next day (I guess), Archie is having the “computer” pair the students up.
At least one girl seems amused by the whole thing.
Anyway, the next named couple is:
Roger (the science dude from earlier) and Heather. The actors aren’t credited.
Veronica is curious about Archie’s computer, but Reggie had been under the impression that it’s her dad’s. Reggie excuses himself and walks off.
The next “perfect date” is:
Jughead’s pleased with himself, of course, but this actually surprises Archie, and Reggie keeps an eye out.
Buffie questions Archie about the outcome, and Archie just says it’s “what the machine says, and science can’t be wrong”. Buffie’s in disbelief but tries to accept it. Jughead’s still pleased with himself. Archie says “Jughead isn’t here today, but he’ll be fine for the party.” This arouses Reggie’s suspicion, and he walks off.
The next couple is:
Bernard (a geophysics nerd) and Luna (an idiot). The other students groan and express their disapproval. The actors aren’t credited.
Archie asks if everybody’s happy, and they all (improbably) say yeah and wave their cards in excitement.
Archie waits for the other students to leave. Before all of them do, Jughead demands to be let out, but Archie tells him to shut the fuck up.
Finally, when the room is clear, Archie opens the back panel to let Jughead out.
Mr. Weatherbee and Reggie come in. Mr. Weatherbee thanks him and, over his protests, sends him away. Archie puts the panel back on, trapping Jughead inside the box.
Archie nervously touts success and wants to fucking leave, but Mr. Weatherbee wants to see the inside of the computer. Archie tries to stop him, citing the delicate technology. Mr. Weatherbee brings up the cheap plywood box that supposedly houses the expensive machinery. Archie tries to quote Ben Franklin, but Jughead responds to Mr. Weatherbee’s knocks with knocks of his own and then yells out. Archie still tries to convince him that nothing’s up. Mr. Weatherbee finally has enough and…
Archie still tries to lie. Mr. Weatherbee and Archie get Jughead out of the box. Mr. Weatherbee’s pissed, but Archie tries to spin it as their “secret”. He then quotes Ben Franklin, basically threatening Mr. Weatherbee’s and Jughead’s lives.
Mr. Weatherbee assures punishment for both of them. He and Archie help Jughead to his feet. Mr. Weatherbee throws Jughead out and tells Archie to report to his office in five minutes. If Jughead’s being punished too, why wasn’t he told to report to the office?
After Archie leaves, Mr. Weatherbee gets in a short, frustrating conversation with his inner voice.
Later, in Mr. Weatherbee’s office, Archie tries to talk him out of punishing him.
He raises the blinds and looks out at the “poor kids”, who will soon be “disappointed”. He invites Mr. Weatherbee to join him. He does – over a warning from his inner voice.
Archie brings up the happiness of the previously dateless students and then brings up his father’s reasoning of a lot of illusion in romance: Brahms’ music, perfume, a bouquet of flowers, and the moon. Mr. Weatherbee’s inner voice warns him, and Mr. Weatherbee tells him to shut up, which shocks Archie. Mr. Weatherbee comes around to Archie’s way of thinking. Archie compliments the “highest type educator” for being “always willing to learn”.
“Get the fuck out, asshole.”
After Archie leaves, Mr. Weatherbee sits down, and his inner voice repeats a claim from earlier that Mr. Weatherbee likes Archie.
Fade out. Fade back in.
Archie watches the students walk into the school and is upset that he doesn’t have a date.
Archie sees Jughead and Buffie arrive, so he quickly hides. Why? Is he afraid that she’ll be upset? Well, she’s not. They actually seem to be getting along just fine. Of course, it’s all built on a lie, but y’know.
Archie comes out of hiding, sees Betty and Veronica arrive with their dates, and hides again. The girls don’t care for their dates. They also insult Archie.
And Archie’s actually perplexed at this.
Miss Grundy arrives – to Mr. Weatherbee’s delight. She was coming alone, but he takes her inside as his date. This makes Archie happy. Propinquity at work.
Due to the success of the dance, Mr. Weatherbee is suddenly popular with the ladies. Miss Grundy is amused.
Mildred watches the dates go in and then notices Archie. She ducks to avoid being seen. Archie’s upset about Mr. Weatherbee getting the credit for the dance’s success.
He sees Mildred and gets her out of the bushes. They talk for a while. Mildred was too bashful to come to the school yesterday, when the cards were matched. Archie apologizes for prying. She runs away, upset. Archie gives chase.
He catches up with her and reveals their cards match perfectly, saying she was supposed to be his date. If he really did plan this out, it’s a nice thing for him to do, but keep in mind that he probably had his card punched to match hers only after Betty and Veronica dumped his ass.
Mildred doesn’t wanna go.
Archie says she’d ruin his evening, so she agrees to go with him.
Archie and Mildred go into the dance together. The audience applauds. The theme song reprises in a fuller version. The end credits come on. Only Miss Grundy, Mary Andrews, Jughead, Miss Kenney, Mrs. Finch, Buffie, Mildred, and Reggie’s actors are credited, surprisingly (plus Archie’s actor in the opening theme). It abruptly cuts off after a while.
So that’s the second attempt to bring Archie to television. I think it’s pretty good. It’s entertaining enough. The cast was good in their roles. If it was made today, the plot would be modernized to Archie running a fraudulent dating site, and Nickelodeon would be the only channel that would air it. Still, I wish it had gone to series back in the day. It was no worse than anything that was airing at the time.
Tune in next Wednesday!