Riverdale Photos

Riverdale Series Premiere Recap: Summer Lovin', Heard Me a Blast

Well, it didn’t take long for Riverdale — The CW’s moody, sexy new take on the classic Archie comics — to get dark, did it?

Thursday’s series premiere opens with aspiring novelist Jughead telling us how the town of Riverdale’s innocent exterior hides some nasty secrets. One of those secrets: the fate of high-school jock Jason Blossom, who vanished on the Fourth of July after an early-morning rowboat ride with his sister Cheryl. (Oh c’mon, like you didn’t take early-morning rowboat rides with your siblings growing up.) Cheryl is later found drenched on the riverside, and Jason is missing. His disappearance is ruled an accident. For now.

But before we dig into that juicy murder-mystery: Let’s meet the teens! Betty is the goody-two-shoes blonde next door, and her gay BFF Kevin tells her it’s time for her to finally make a move on her beloved Archie. Throw in the fact that Archie got hot over the summer (“He’s got abs now!” Kevin exclaims), and Betty’s ready to break out of the friend zone. But just as she’s about to tell Archie how she feels in their usual booth at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe… in walks Veronica Lodge.

Riverdale PreviewShe’s the rich brunette who’s new in town, just arrived from New York to duck the bad press about her dad Hiram, who’s on trial for fraud and embezzlement… and what do you know? She’s about to be a sophomore at Riverdale High, just like Archie and Betty! Archie’s obviously interested in her, which annoys Betty, but like the good girl she is, she grits her teeth and tells Veronica she’s actually been assigned to show Veronica around school. Oh great, that won’t be awkward at all!

Betty’s got other problems, too: Her mom, Alice, is a real pill. And coincidentally, she wants Betty to swallow some pills — Adderall, to help her excel like a good little overachiever. Plus, Betty’s sister Polly apparently had a nervous breakdown after her romance with Jason Blossom went south. But luckily, Veronica turns out to be more friend than foe, as she and Betty (and Kevin) bond during a school tour. Veronica’s a little touchy about her father, though. When Kevin brings him up, she coldly says, “I stand by my father.” OK, then.

Archie, meanwhile, is dreaming of a career in music. He wrote some song lyrics over the summer, and he drops by a rehearsal of Josie and the Pussycats to see if they want to collaborate. Josie’s not interested: “Read my glossed lips, Justin Gingerlake. Not. Gonna. Happen.” (Ha!) But Archie’s football pal Reggie welcomes him back to school, asking him, “Did you tap some cougar ass this summer?” Reggie, you don’t know how right you are.

Turns out Archie isn’t just deciding between the classic binary of Betty and Veronica. He locks eyes with music teacher Miss Grundy at a school assembly, and we flash back to what went down between them this summer. He was walking home from work, and she gave him a ride… and then she gave him a ride, if you know what I mean. (Damn, Riverdale!) Archie tries to talk to Miss Grundy in the hall, even calling her “Geraldine” (!), but she makes it clear she intends to keep this professional, and tells him to see her during office hours if he wants to discuss music.

Riverdale Season 1 PhotosBetty and Veronica become fast friends, with Veronica marveling at how Betty consistently sells herself short: “You should be the queen bae of this drab hive.” They even try out for cheerleading together, and Veronica makes the squad. Head cheerleader Cheryl still has a grudge against Betty, though, because of the Jason-Polly drama, so she’s out. That is, until Veronica says she won’t join unless Betty’s in. And I guess Cheryl needed a blonde and brunette to complete the set, because they’re both in!

Betty can’t understand why Veronica’s being so nice to her. (In the comics, they’re bitter rivals for Archie’s affection. Plus, Betty’s self-esteem is zero at this point.) Veronica explains that when she left New York in disgrace, she decided to become “a better version of myself.” And in that spirit, she pushes Betty to ask Archie to the back-to-school dance. Betty works up the courage… but asks him to go with her and Veronica. Ladies and gentlemen, Riverdale’s first throuple!

Archie’s mind is still on Miss Grundy, though, and it’s not just because of the hot car sex. The two of them were at the river the morning Jason disappeared, and heard a gunshot. Miss Grundy dismisses it as “fireworks,” and wants Archie to forget the whole thing, car sex included. But when Archie confronts her, she relents and agrees to help him do an “independent study” project to pursue his music. (Maybe just to keep him quiet?)

RiverdaleAt the back-to-school dance, Archie arrives with Betty and Veronica on either arm. He and Betty share a sweet slow dance as Josie and the Pussycats cover Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night,” and she decides to go for it, asking him why they can’t be a couple: “Is that so impossible to imagine?” But he hesitates, and master manipulator Cheryl senses blood in the water, so she invites Archie, Betty and Veronica to her after-party: “I’m in the mood for chaos.”

That chaos takes the form of an old-fashioned game of Seven Minutes in Heaven, with Cheryl spinning a bottle to see who gets cozy with Archie. The bottle lands squarely between Betty and Veronica, but Cheryl calls it for Veronica… and says she’ll go in there with Archie if Veronica won’t. So Archie and Veronica head into the closet together, and she asks him about Betty. She’s his best friend, he says, but he’s never had those kinds of feelings for her. Veronica sees that as an opening — and yep, they end up kissing.

Riverdale Season 1 PhotosVeronica instantly regrets it, though (“We messed up”), and heads home when they see that Betty’s fled the party. Archie looks for Betty at Pop’s, only to find Jughead. (Hey, way to make an appearance nine-tenths of the way through the pilot, Jughead!) There’s a weird tension between them; Jughead asks if Archie is “Mr. Popular Football God” now. But he encourages Archie to find Betty, and says talking to her would go a long way. “Would’ve gone a long way with me,” he adds. (Ouch. Definitely some history to explore here.)

Archie finally tracks down Betty at her house, and she wants to know if he loves her… or even likes her. He insists he does love her, but… “I’ll never be good enough for you.” Yeah, Betty doesn’t like that answer, either, and walks back inside. But things are about to get a lot more complicated for everybody: While fooling around with meathead jock Moose (!) at the river, Kevin stumbles upon the bloated corpse of Jason Blossom — and there’s a bullet hole in his forehead. As cops fish the body out, Jughead informs us the autopsy is on Monday, and on Tuesday, “the first arrest would be made.” In other words: Stay tuned, folks.

Yearbook Notes:

* Already liking Luke Perry as Archie’s dad Fred — and the fact that he has his own romantic past with Veronica’s mom Hermione. Seems like he’ll be a kind, patient voice of reason for Archie to confide in this season.

* Archie is being a little bit conspicuous while talking to Miss Grundy about their torrid affair, isn’t he? Will that come back to bite him in future episodes?

Riverdale Recap Archie Comics Miss Grundy* By the way, this is what Miss Grundy looks like in the classic comics. Just sayin’.

* So the Riverdale football coach gave Jason Blossom’s old number to Archie… really? Before the poor guy’s body had even been discovered? That’s just massively insensitive, don’t ya think?

* Best nickname for Archie: “Justin Gingerlake”? “The Red-Headed Ansel Engort”? “Teen Outlander“? “The Ginger Stallion”? So many options… and we’re only one episode in, guys!

Now it’s your turn: Give the Riverdale premiere a grade in our poll below, then tell us in the comments if you’ll be coming back to Pop’s for seconds.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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60 Comments
  1. John036 says:

    thought it was good but a few gripes:
    .
    thought the characters were a little too referential. felt as though the writer was trying to hard to make the teens hip (though the “season 5 betty” quip was a good one, even though we never got to hear cheryl say it”
    .
    thought the first bit of the episode before the title card/commerical break was way too rushed.
    .
    felt it was a little TOO soapy. i was hoping for a something more in line with twin peaks w/ teens. the last bit when archie went to check on betty at the end of the episode had me rolling my eyes at how cheesy the dialogue was.
    .
    solid episode to what i am sure will only get better over time. i give it a B.

  2. Lysh says:

    It was pretty interesting while managing to have all the cliches of a teen drama (dance, love triangle, mean girls etc). I feel more invested in Betty and Veronica’s potential friendship than Archie’s love life and it was fun to see Cole Sprouse as Jughead. I’ll give it another watch.

  3. Kari says:

    It was pretty good not great but it was only the first episode so I will watch the second before I decide to watch the season or not.

  4. Sheldon W. says:

    So, Teen Twin Peaks via Dawson’s Creek it is!

    A really nice place to visit…

  5. Erick Voshel says:

    Loved the premiere. Haven’t read the comics, but this show has so much potential and I will give the show a chance. Love the “Twin Peaks/Teen Wolf” vibe.

    • Fairmont1955 says:

      The comics – at least the older ones – are a 180 from any of this. It’s about as wholesome as it could be, with the stereotype of Betty and Ronnie trying to complete for Archie’s affection. Introducing a a gay character in recent years was a major, major progressive move. I used to love the comics and read them all the time – good stuff you could give a 7-10yr old without worry.
      That said, I like that they are taking a different spin on it.

      • Ari says:

        For decades Archie has done many alternative universe comics that range from full scifi/fantasy to dark and creepy. This is not out of line for Archie Comics…but definitely different from the main continuity people remember.

        • the big turn on archie comics started about 6-7 years ago when the comics were failing like mad and the whole “pop archie” was dead, so they started to mix archie universe with zombies, introducing gay character who they did it in awesome way, the whole “death of archie”storyline and some others before last year where they made a “revival” and the comics now are more grounded to reality of today teens and adding some questions where the older archie comics would never had the idea how to put them.
          especially judgehead comic book ,where it’s probably the most surreal take on pop culture in general!

          oh i loved the series!!! probably the second best pilot after “good place” this “tv year”

  6. Fairmont1955 says:

    I like that they want to move beyond the frenimy relationship between Betty/Ronnie, and want to make it a more modern and healthy relationship.

  7. ZOZO says:

    I love it more than i expected, i will definitely continue to watch it.

  8. Andrew says:

    It was definitely different. The setting reminds of White Pine Bay from Bates Motel, where, on the outside, it looks idyllic, but has a dark, seedy underbelly once you get to know it. The murder mystery element definitely reminded me of Twin Peaks.

    The only thing that I rolled my eyes at was the relationship between Archie and the teacher. Too much of a cliche (and real-world problem, unfortunately), but: It had a strange, otherworldly vibe that I’ll probably watch a few more episodes.

  9. Nina says:

    Missed opportunity: should have cast Charisma Carpenter as Veronica’s mom!

  10. Gospino says:

    It was bad. I’m disappointed. The positive reviews fooled me. Ugh, the acting… That early scene with Betty and Kevin looking at Archie thru the window was horrid. Kevin so far is the stereotypical, one-dimensional gay best friend. It felt as if this episode was dutifully ticking boxes (mention this character from the comics, include this setting, drop this name) instead of being interesting. Lots of room for improvement here. Lots.

    • Angus says:

      BYE BYE THEN.

    • redjane12 says:

      Yep… I don’t get the hype… It felt like a soap for very young teens… Dialogue was full of cliches and the characters were mostly stereotypical… Perhaps it was pilotitis? I’ll check out the next episodes but so far not very impressed and not sure the ratings are going to be that good…

  11. I can see why the CW is pushing this to be the face of the network along with Flash/Supergirl.

    I like the visual styles but the acting is at best mediocre, the writing is typical CW fare. Fast food watching.

  12. Adam says:

    While it was a lot better than i expected, I still wish they had kept more to the tone of the new Mark Waid run of Archie. I can see a lot of influences from Waid’s run, especially with Veronica and Archie. I HATE the current depiction of Betty. They do a decent job developing her as someone to root for, but Betty should not be this weak, afraid to speak her mind, girl whose one track mind leads to trying to date Archie. The best part of Betty and Veronica are that they are two sides of the same coin, strong independent women who DONT need their love life to define them. Its hard to imagine them having an equal dynamic with the current characterization. I dont think I am out of line in hating this version of Betty so far, but I will concede that I love Waid’s depiction of tom-boy girl next door Betty who does get the grades and has that “perfect” air of her, but she isnt some fragile girl that would storm out of a party in tears.

  13. Ram510 says:

    It bugs me they “based” this off of Archie. Not much of an Archie vibe at all except for the characters names. It was more of a Twin Peaks vibe with the look of Teen Wolf. Interesting enough show with some eye rolling cliches. Just wish they would “base” it off something else and leave Archie alone

    • J.B. says:

      Have you read any of the comic books from the Archie universe in the past 4 or 5 years? It’s very different these days. Life with Archie: The Married Life where Archie was killed off saving Kevin from an assassination attempt? That title covered everything from politics and gun control to same sex marriage, divorce and Archie being married to both Veronica and Betty (at different times).
      Or how about Afterlife with Archie? That is a horror title revolving around a zombie Apocalypse. It even has a TEEN+ rating. That even led to a spin off horror title Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
      The Archie universe is changing and quickly. I mean they even made Jughead’s asexuality in the comics canon! So while Riverdale may be a different take on the characters it isn’t something that isn’t happening already.

  14. HeyThere says:

    Honestly, Veronica and Betty stood out more than Archie. Their friendship is the only thing that I want more of. Hopefully the second episode will be better.

  15. Keslen says:

    I thought Riverdale had a lot of potential. How could a live action interpretation of the Archie comics go wrong (especially centred around a murder mystery)? After watching it, I have my answer: a sex scene involving Archie, Ms. Grundy and no one else.

    There’s no coming back from that. This show is a dud.

    • J.B. says:

      “…a sex scene involving Archie, Ms. Grundy and no one else.
      There’s no coming back from that.”

      So it would have been better if Veronica, Betty or Kevin were there too?

      • Keslen says:

        At least that way it could have been spun as Archie having sex with Veronica/Betty/Kevin and Grundy just happening to be there.

  16. Rambling Joe says:

    Okay, I’m just going to say it. With all the publicity about Teachers having sex with their Students in the past year, I can’t believe they went there. I was never a big reader of the comics, so I’m not really expecting much. I was just wondering if, since Archie was busy writing song lyrics, if we can expect an updated version of “Sugar Sugar” soon?

  17. Jim says:

    Typical teen soap. Nothing special here. No reason to watch this one if a teen soap isn’t your sort of thing.

  18. Max says:

    It was OK, not great. As others have stated, I’ll wait until a couple more episodes before scheduling it permanently on my DVR. My one major complaint, I get that they were going for moody, but the whole episode could’ve used a Claritin-type swipe to amp up the clarity and brightness. If only it matched the publicity still at the top of this page.

  19. Rex the Wonder Dog says:

    I like to see what gets promoted during the breaks for the DC shows. Two promo clips for Supergirl during the show. Only a mention of The Flash. And nothing for Arrow or LoT that I can recall.

  20. ToyCannon says:

    Two parts Twin Peaks, one part Gossip Girl, one part Dawson’s Creek, and one part Veronica Mars. Hopefully a central character who tries to solve the murder mystery will emerge in the next episode.

    • Justine says:

      From what I’ve seen in the promors, it looks like Jughead will be trying to solve the murder. And apparently, Betty will help too. I’ve always loved their friendship in the comics because they made a very interesting dynamic, so that’s something to look forward to!

  21. Amanda says:

    I loved it!!! I saw the comparisons to the other classic teen shows and “Twin Peaks” but I loved it was so much like “Veronica Mars”!!! I loved that show so much. I also grew up reading and watching the Archie, Josie, and Sabrina cartoons and 90s show and love getting to see them on here. I don’t mind the darker plots and know the comics now are similar. Can’t wait for next week’s episode!!!

  22. Susie says:

    Anyone else disappointed in Josie and the Pussycats? I was looking forward to them, but was letdown by how rude Josie was to Archie and for no good reason. I get wanting to deviate from the original character somewhat, but there was no need to give her a giant ego.

    • Tasha says:

      Completely agree with you about Josie’s characterization. It definitely threw me out of the show during that scene. None of them were ever that rude even when dealing with Alex in exasperation. I wonder are they going to have the other two be Melody and Valerie? Their personalities did not come through in that scene.

    • Yes, that really pissed me off. Way to give the black girls a stupid stereotypical attitude cliche. Ughh!

      I hope they change that BS by the next episode, or I’m out.

  23. J.Norman says:

    It wasn’t too bad.
    It is obvious that they used the Archie name for a recognition “jump start” for the series since this story line could be used for any group of teenagers at any school.

    Time will tell if the both inherent and manufactured differences to the Archie tradition and / or canon will draw or repulse more viewers.
    Since this is the CW, a lot of its viewers are going to be younger and so maybe they won’t care.

    • ScottJ says:

      Its taken from the current incarnation of various Archie titles as of 3 or 4 years ago. I’ve only read a few of them, but the show seems to be pretty faithful to this version.

  24. Will Drake says:

    This will go as well as ABCs remake of The Muppets where Kermit and Miss Piggy break up and they introduced a new girlfriend for Kermit. Not how I remember Archie or the Muppets nor do I want to see a new version of them.

  25. candacemountain says:

    I went into the series premier expecting to be disappointed. I am now glad that it did not disappoint me and in fact surpassed my best case expectations. Was it perfect? No, but it preformed well enough to ensure that I will be back for at least a few more episodes and possibly the whole season depending on those episodes.

  26. Luffy says:

    Loved this show. Kinda hope Jughead and Archie become friends again. I know it’s a teen soap opera but it’s my legit guilty pleasure. SO I guess Molly Ringwald is in Chicago ? Which is ironic. Can’t wait for next weeks episode.

  27. Paula says:

    I thought it was immensely entertaining and look forward to all future episodes! New guilty pleasure!

  28. Lke says:

    Wow. Promoting statutory rape. Leave it to liberals to promote this. If it was a guy teacher having sex with a younger female student, the feminists would be up in arms protesting. Very interesting.

    • Jim says:

      It’s not being promoted. It’s clearly presented as a grave mistake that has negative repercussions for Archie and Ms. Grundy.

  29. Ronnie says:

    I was curious, but definitely wasn’t sure what to expect. SOOO glad I watched! I got more caught up than I thought I would. Looking forward to seeing where the season goes (and what happened between Archie and Jughead)

  30. Paloma says:

    I gave it a chance but it wasn’t very good. It was bland. The acting was mediocre. It was full of stereotypes and standard high school TV show tropes. And all the 20-something actors playing what were supposed to be high school sophomores looked too old for the roles. They certainly didn’t look like 15 and 16 year olds.

    • ninergrl6 says:

      The age thing is driving me crazy. I get that many TV “teens” are played by actors in their 20s, but there’s no way these folks can pass for sophomores. Seniors maybe in a stretch, but NOT 15/16 year olds.

  31. Paloma says:

    I gave it a chance but it wasn’t very good. It was bland. The acting was mediocre. It was full of stereotypes and standard high school TV show tropes. And all the 20-something actors playing what were supposed to be high school sophomores looked too old for the roles. They certainly didn’t look like 15 and 16 year olds. If you are going to take something iconic and translate it to the small screen, you need to do a better job.

  32. kirads09 says:

    I thought it was very solid and good. It is a YA soapy drama. But for that genre, seems like it is going to be a good one. I love that “Jughead” is our narrator! I am old enough to remember the Archie cartoons and had tons of the comic books back in the day. Always loved Archie and like this modern “re-imagining” (for lack of a better way to put it).

  33. tallsy says:

    The Archie/Grundy plotline is DOA, and Kevin is a cliche riddled mess. I might stick around because I like Betty, Veronica, and Cheryl. Also, isn’t it weird no one seems bothered by Jason’s death? He must have had some friends.

  34. Lisa Levin says:

    I liked it and could see myself loving it. The camera work and mood were excellent. As the young actors grow into their roles (ala 90210 and on Veronica Mars where every character except for Veronica and Keith Mars had to work their way into their parts) the show might go from very good to great if the writing gets a little tighter. There some gaps, and they tried to do too much in a one-hour pilot.

  35. DJ Doena says:

    Isn’t it lovely? A mid-20s teacher has sex with a 15/16 year old student. But it’s a-okay because the student is a HE and we all know that she’s hot and he wanted it, too – am I right?