Just over a week into the Trump presidency (suppressing a gag) and the term “alternative facts” has entered the popular lexicon.
Wow. If my calculations are correct and the US continues on this downward slope, we’re going to end up in one of those dystopian futures predicted by any number of B-grade movies from the 80s, more than a few of which involved, for some reason, roller skates.
As much fun as I would have writing that movie, I want to get off the negative train this week to discuss something else… or anything else really.
Heck let’s talk about the Archie television show. You’ve all seen the Archie comics in the grocery store isle. I read them voraciously as a kid. Apparently, the stories grew up a bit (adding a gay character, Archie dies at one point, the ubiquitous zombie tie-in) in the decades since I stopped paying attention, but it was always, you know, Archie and his gang of pals getting into mischief and learning a lesson, even if that lesson has nothing to do with Archie finally learning to settle down and make a decision as to which girl he really wants.
Anyway, The CW is making the Archie universe “more modern.” What that really means is they are taking the ideal of Archie, with the awe shucks everything is neat-o paradigm straight out of the 50s, and changing it to fit into the world of today.
In other words, it’s going to be Archie in name only. It’s a familiar ploy, with MTV doing the same thing with Teen Wolf a few years back. Same names, entirely different tone. Basically producers are hoping to seduce viewers with a mash-up of a familiar name and the equally familiar setting of a teen melodrama.
Will it work? I must confess the only teen show I watched in the last decade was the BBC’s Skins which, when converted to an American setting, did not go over well so I am pretty far afield of what anyone would consider knowledgeable when it comes to adolescent audiences. Perhaps kids these days are indeed clamoring for a return to Pop’s Malt Shoppe and perhaps the producers got everything right. Who knows? The only thing I can say for sure about the show is I won’t tune in.
Well then why are you writing about it, the more cynical of you might ask?
Well, sir or madam, or whatever you want to be called, I guess I have two issues. First, I want quality television. A while back I offered the idea of revamping Friday Night Lights, which in my mind is one of the best television shows of all time. I don’t consider it a teen show because, despite the backdrop of high school football, it is really about a husband and wife.
While I finally decreed FNL shouldn’t be resurrected for the sake of the original, another well made major network series involving young people is possible and I don’t see Archie filling that void.
Secondly, I don’t like the blatant pandering. I am not sure how much modern teens know of Archie, Jughead, and all the rest but I bet it isn’t very much. I’m guessing the producers wanted something hip and edgy to bring in the kids but also something familiar to draw in, at least for a few episodes, their parents.
It’s hardly a new idea and perhaps it is just a matter of giving the people what they want but it’s just too neat and tidy, too “hey come for the nostalgia, stay for the teens.”
To the Archie show, I say no thank you. I’ll stay out of Riverdale and you stay off my television.
I’m done now.