Review: Cole Sprouse no show stopper in new show "Riverdale"

Cole Sprouse (right) and KJ Apa (left) in The CW's new show "Riverdale".  (Screenshot/The CW)

Riverdale is an eerie thriller and the latest television attempt at remaking well-known comic-book stories. The CW is currently home to many of these series, such as Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, but this new show promises something different, with a distinct lack of superhumans. Based on the Archie comics, Riverdale, starring K.J. Apa, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes and Madelaine Petsch, follows a group of small town teens as they try to uncover a the mysterious murder of Jason Blossom, a popular boy in town, killed at the end of summer.

The show takes a lot of liberties, seeing as the characters in the original comics were initially depicted as wholesome, typical, all-American teenagers. Archie Andrews (Apa) is the perfect, well-rounded boy-next door while Betty Cooper (Reinhart) is his female counterpart (they are literally neighbors). The arrival of Veronica Lodge (Mendes) creates a predictable love-triangle among the characters. There is darkness and intrigue surrounding Jason’s twin sister, Cheryl (Petsch), who was with him when he died. The narrator of the show is the brooding Jughead Jones (Sprouse), Archie’s former friend. Each of the characters and their respective families, have their own drama and secrets that have just begun to unfold on screen.

While the plot is relatively compelling, despite its variance from the original comics, the writing for the show is pretty mediocre, with very predictable lines and character interactions. Each character lives up to the set of stereotypes given to them in the comics, with their added dark mystery. The cast, while very attractive and relatively good at their jobs as actors and actresses, are very unbelievable as high schoolers, as most casts of teen dramas typically are. One of the most interesting things about Riverdale is going to be if, and how, it ties in some of the characters from the publishing company’s original comics; such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We’ve already been introduced to Josie and the Pussycats and most of Archie’s friends, and the show’s creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, says it could happen: “As I say, never say never...it’s certainly within the realm of possibility.” Some fans are worried that Sabrina won’t fit into the plot, as she has a fairly explicit supernatural quality that Riverdale seems to lack. The show opens in a classic 1950’s style diner, paying homage to the show’s origins, but not quite fitting into the 21st century suburbia setting. The writers actually seem to overcompensate for the discrepancies in era by putting an allusion to pop-culture in almost every line, referencing Zac Efron, James Franco and Suicide Squad, as well as filling the soundtrack with very current music – almost as if to remind us what century we’re in.

Riverdale is promising, and the mystery aspect of the plot will certainly keep me watching until the end, but so far it’s certainly not on par with other CW favorites, such as The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, or The Carrie Diaries. It lacks any real entertainment value, connections with the characters are minimal at this point and the general idea of it is fairly run of the mill. I think most of its viewership is going to come from Cole Sprouse’s (really the only well-known cast member) fan-base and the people like me, who are mildly curious to see how everything plays out. I’m almost positive that very few people actually tuned in as fans of the outdated comic series. Riverdale airs Thursdays at 9 p.m., on The CW.


Julia Mancini is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.mancini@uconn.edu.