Riverdale: The Complete First Season DVD Review: An Entertaining Guilty Pleasure

A provocative, creepy and sinister version of 90210 with a murder mystery thrown in.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided us with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions shared are the writer's.

Summer always meant new Archie comics. These were the only comic books I read growing up and I was addicted. My cousins and I would debate whether or not Archie should be with Betty or Veronica. I was always Team Betty. When I heard there was going to be a TV show based on the characters, I was all in. Riverdale is much darker and sexier than the comics but it is an entertaining teen drama. 

Riverdale is a seemingly simple peaceful little town. That is until high schooler Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) is murdered. His death reveals all of the dark secrets that the local families have been trying to hide. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is the seminal redhead at the center of it all. He is the seemingly perfect teenage boy who plays football, wants to be a musician, works for his dad's (Luke Perry) construction business, and who most girls are vying for. Especially sweet and smart Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), who is also dealing with the pressures by her parents to be the perfect daughter until she befriends feisty Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), who recently arrived in town after her father was sent to jail. Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) is a introspective lone-wolf trying to bring his family back together while struggling with his dad (Skeet Ulrich) who is an alcoholic and leader of the local motorcycle gang. Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) is reeling from her twin brother's death, which results in her stirring up lots of problems for everyone around her while dealing with being a member of the wealthiest and most ruthless family in town. Several lesser characters are included too, such as Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), the first gay character introduced in the comics as well as Josie (Ashleigh Murray) and her Pussycats.

The creators were smart in casting the parents with actors that are nostalgic to my generation, who grew up on the comics in the '80s. They are from the shows and movies we hold dear. My interest was immediately peaked when I learned Perry, Ulrich, Madchen Amick, and Molly Ringwald were involved. While the majority of action revolves around the teens, the relationships they have with their parents is a heavy focus along with the parents having their own issues to deal with.

There are deeply developed characters on both the teen and parent side. I expected the parents to give the performances I had come to know from watching them for so many years and they delivered. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the teens. I really came to care about and understand them. They are each developed uniquely and the casting is terrific. On a heightened dramatic level, these actors do an excellent job at bringing the characters from the comics to life. The mystery is intriguing and resolved with intelligent complexity. While extremely melodramatic at times, the side stories are also developed in a way to maintain a viewer's interest while waiting for the murder to be solved.

In order to entice the older generation to keep watching along with the younger viewers, they are going to have to work on the writing. The dialogue at times is utterly ridiculous and unrealistic for high schoolers. The teens also behave in aggressive ways towards their parents that would have them grounded permanently. Lastly, the lipstick can be toned down a bit.

There are several special features included with the DVD set. "The New Normal" and "Riverdale: The Ultimate Sin" are behind-the-scenes featurettes giving viewers insights into the development of the show.  "I Got You" and "These are Moments I Remember" are musical numbers. The 2016 San Diego Comic-Con panel is also included along with a gag reel and deleted scenes.

For those in my generation, Riverdale is a provocative, creepy and sinister version of 90210 with a murder mystery thrown in. They even include unusual covers of '80s songs in addition to current hits.  It is a sleek teen drama, not as well done or thought-provoking as something like 13 Reasons Why but an entertaining guilty pleasure. They ended with a shocking cliffhanger that will have me turning into Season 2 in October to see what comes next.

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