Friday, 8 July 2016

The CW Pilot Previews: Riverdale

Riverdale is the third and final (excluding Supergirl) new series The CW ordered for this season. Ironically, all of the new CW series are based on existing formats therefore, it would not feel right if one of the new series was not based on a comic book series. Now all bases are covered: television (No Tomorrow), film (Frequency) and of course the Archie Comics based series Riverdale. Like many Hollywood adaptations, Riverdale is set to be a “gritty” take on the popular comic book series. Hollywood is obsessed with many older properties “gritty”, the upcoming Power Rangers movie has been described as being “gritty” so go-figure.

The new “gritty” adaptation comes from Greg Berlanti, TV’s comic book super producer who has bought the likes of Arrow, The Flash,
and Supergirl to television. Riverdale reverts back to days (not to long ago, actually) in which The CW’s slate comprised of teen dramas rather than super heroes. However, Riverdale’s pilot certainly is grittier in comparison to 90210, Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries

The pilot episode is definitely ambitious in reaching the levels (or depths?) of darkness it wishes to achieve. Cast members have claimed the series to be inspired by Twin Peaks which, for those of you who haven’t seen this masterpiece of show, is gritty… very very gritty. 

The plot of the pilot goes like this: “As a new school year begins, the town of Riverdale is still reeling from the recent, tragic death of Jason Blossom. girl-next-door Betty Cooper is anxious to see her crush Archie after being away all summer, but she's not quite ready to reveal her true feelings to him. When a new student, Veronica Lodge, arrives in town from New York with her mother, there's an undeniable spark between her and Archie. Cheryl Blossom, Riverdale's Queen Bee, is happy to stir up trouble amongst Archie, Betty, and Veronica, but Cheryl is keeping secrets of her own. Specifically about the mysterious death of her twin brother, Jason. Riverdale may look like a small, quiet town, but there is darkness hidden underneath the shadows”. 

The pilot episode opens with the death of Jason Blossom to which we delve into the dark underbelly of the “real” Riverdale which consists of provocative parties, drunken escapades, strip clubs and possible incest (tribute to Cruel Intentions?)

The cast includes Disney Channel alum Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones and Lili Reinhart, who starred on the underrated Fox sitcom Surviving Jack, as Betty Cooper. Archie is played by K.J. Apa. The character is described as a "newly hunky teen" whose "new muscular appearance" is due to working on his father's construction site over the summer. Here are the receipts in GIF form:

He has also become a songwriter (if you couldn't tell from the GIF) which is yet another cool and hip way to convey teen angst, through music, As the plotline suggests, like Twin Peaks, a murder mystery will be the focus of Riverdale’s first season, and through the investigation into the untimely murder of Laura Palmer in the David Lynch series, we became familiar with the odd and peculiar characters in Twin Peaks and it seems as though Riverdale will attempt to follow suit. Some of the other gritty story lines set to be given the spotlight on the show include Betty’s addiction to the drug Adderall, Archie’s forbidden relationship with his music teacher Ms. Grundy. 

All of the major plot point previously mentioned seem to be crafted to keep viewers coming back for more mystery and drama each week, and judging by the relatively large fan base the show has acquired online, once the pilot officially premiers early next year, Riverdale is sure to become one of the most buzzed about shows of the season. Riverdale is definitely ambitious in its approach to teen drama and attempts to push the boundaries in relation to the steamy high school dramas we have seen The CW previously air. 

However, many of the plot points in Riverdale have been addressed in high school dramas before, such as sex and drug addiction. Therefore, Riverdale will have to find a unique approach to storytelling. It aims to reach the same critical and creative highs of , Twin Peaks and even though it ultimately fails to do so (I mean, no one other than David Lynch could), its fantastic cinematography thanks to the Vancouver setting, glorious cast of young newcomers and of course the unexpected twist at the end makes Riverdale one of the best drama pilots this season.

No Tomorrow

No Tomorrow is an upcoming romantic fantasy comedy drama series which will premiere on The CW in October. Ever since Jane The Virgin’s unexpected critical success in 2014, The CW has made it their mission to develop and add quirky comedy-dramas to their schedules since. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was The CW’s breakout comedy-drama (in terms of accolades and awards) last season and this season, No Tomorrow is surely expected to be the third CW comedy series to score big at the Golden Globes next year. 

Similarly to Jane The Virgin, No Tomorrow is based on a foreign format. The series is based on a Brazilian series called Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo (How To Enjoy The End Of The World). The premise of the series is fairly simple: A woman named Evie (played by Tori Anderson) becomes involved with a free-spirited guy called Xavier (played by Galavant’s Joshua Sasse) who inspired her to make an “apocolyst”, a list of activities to do before the world ends – which he claims will be in eight months and twelve days (approximately the length of an entire TV season). With the help of her friends, they try to find out if he can be taken seriously while completing the bucket list. 

I am always a fan of high-concept comedies, which have become a new trend this season, and No Tomorrow is no exception. On the other hand, the premise does sound like a fairly predictable romantic comedy in which the two leads fall in love and Xavier actually imagined the whole “end of the world” fiasco. What will set this show apart is if the apocalypse actually does happen in the season finale, leading to a Last Man on Earth/Lost type of show for the second season (otherwise, I fail to see how a second season will be possible). 

Judging by the pilot episode, the show will have an offbeat and quirky tone which will make it a perfect fit alongside Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. However, the critical success of the former shows have depended largely on the comedic and dramatic performances of their lead actresses (Gina Rodriguez and Rachel Bloom) and Tori Anderson’s portrayal of Evie does not have any noteworthy idiosyncrasies to help her stand out from all the other so-called “quirky” female leads coming to TV this season.


Frequency is only the second new drama The CW are adding to their new scheduling this year along with comedy No Tomorrow. The highly anticipated Archie Comics adaptation Rivrdale will premier in mid-season (early 2017). While No Tomorrow has a fighting chance of remaining on the schedule for the entire season and even scoring a renewal next year, the same cannot be said for Frequency. 

Luckily for No Tomorrow, it comes from the same team who adapted Jane The Virgin, furthermore, the comedy follows in the footsteps and uses the same formula as Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend while Frequency is just another adaptation of a film no one remembers or cares about. 

The main difference between the 2000 Gregory Hoblit film and the Brad Anderson TV show is one of the main characters changing from being a male to a female. Let me explain further, the plot of the series revolves around Detective Raimy Sullivan who discovers that she is able to speak to her deceased father Frank Sullivan by ham radio. They forge a new connection and work together on an unresolved murder case. 

Even though the pilot is not “bad”, it doesn’t make enough noise to stand out amongst a slate of quirky dramedies and superhero shows, which includes the newly transplanted series Supergirl. The CW are said to have been looking for a procedural however, I doubt Frequency will live long enough to reach any semblance of potential it may have.

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