Riverdale Season One

Riverdale

Picture Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures, The CW and Netflix

Whether you were a fan of Archie comics or not, Riverdale is a new hit series released on Netflix guaranteed to please.  While the fan base for the show could be clearly geared towards the younger viewers, the show creates a dark twist to the lives of these wholesome comic book characters and feeds on the addiction of mystery, lies and secrets that we all so eagerly crave from a show.

Riverdale is the setting for our wholesome town with our wholesome characters and as with all things wholesome comes secrets and lies.  The town is turned upside down when Jason Blossom, the son one of the towns most prominent families, is found murdered.  His death has sent shockwaves throughout the small town, but the most shocking is the fact that almost everyone in town could potentially be the killer.

One of the main characters, Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) has set fire to the ginger community by creating a new sexy face to what people imagine when they think of a ginger.  (I’ll just point out that KJ’s natural hair color is not actually red and his appearance is a severe contrast to an actual ginger such as Trevor Stines who plays Jason Blossom.)  Regardless of your tastes both male and females cannot deny that KJ makes one very sexy ginger and if you aren’t entirely convinced, he even has an accent from his native New Zealand which you can check out in some of his Instagram posts: kjapa (you’re welcome).  Our underdog and surprising entry is Cole Sprouse who plays Jughead Jones.  You may remember Sprouse better from such things as Big Daddy, Friends (Monica Bang) and the Suite Life of Zac and Cody.  As handsome as our Archie may be, Jughead adds some much needed depth to the story and the characters.  I wasn’t entirely convinced by his one liner angsty comments in the beginning, but I’ve come to like him as our dark narrator. His darkness is balanced by that of the sweet Elizabeth “Betty” Cooper and a dash of spice with Veronica Lodge.  While there are things that we love above each of these main characters I can’t help but have a soft spot for Cheryl Blossom.  She is one half of the Blossom family twins and is a fierce bombshell of a red head whose wealth creates a glamour in both her home decor and her killer outfits.

The show has made its attempts at sending messages through its episodes but I much prefer when it sticks to the secrets and lies.  Only three episodes in it had already tried to cram in slut shaming and the race card while also casually inserting the subliminal push for teens that Twitter is the new teendom and Facebook is for seniors.  This is also part of that strange thing that shows do when they portray Highschool students as older than they actually are by drinking coffee all the time and drinking alcohol at clubs while still clearly well below the legal age limit.  On the topic of young and old…As passing the torch from one teen show to the next, Luke Perry is cast as Archie Andrew’s father Fred Andrews.  As young and attractive are the new cast, Luke Perry portrays the obvious effects of drugs and alcohol that an actor can be exposed to looking more like grandpa Andrews rather than dad Andrews.

Riverdale has that addictive mystery thriller quality where every person on the show could be a suspect.  This can become tedious at times because you know that the first few sets of people pinned as the killer will be cleared in one way or another making way for our next suspect.  The murderer of Jason Blossom is the pinnacle of season one, and while we may know, or not know, who that may be after season one, Riverdale has planted a few seeds to help create some lasting power for the seasons to come.  There are many thrilling events and shocking secrets revealed in each episode of the season, but I must admit that there is a pretty obvious element of predictability when it comes to the show.  I’ve been able to predict many events and even been able to quote lines before they are spoken much to the chagrin of those around me.  Still, I am very much behind Riverdale and can’t wait to see which of my expected plot seeds will Blossom in season two.

 

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Stranger Things – Season One

stranger_things_logo

Picture Courtesy of 21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre and Netflix

 

If you haven’t seen Stranger Things you at least know someone who has and has told you that you need to watch it, repeatedly.  The Duffer Brothers struck gold when they decided to create this science fiction horror TV series and wrapped it in a beautifully done 1980’s package.

The first season is set in the 1980’s in a town called Hawkins, Indiana.  Highlighting some of the best things from the 80’s we’re introduced to a group of four boys playing Dungeons and Dragons with the seasons soundtrack containing some of the best songs from the 80’s.  The four boys consist of Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp).  After an epic game of Dungeons and Dragons the boys set off on their bikes back to their homes.  While on the way home, Will Byers encounters a strange and disturbing creature that chases him all the way home.  Safely locking the door behind him, he discovers that his mom and brother are not home and the creature is still after him.  When he rushes to the shed to get the gun, he loads it just in time only to have the creature get him.  There is no sign of Will or the creature and his mother Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) is completely beside herself.  Taking time off from work she discovers that although her son is missing she can still feel him near.

While the hunt is on to find Will,  a mysterious girl appears in town running from some very dangerous people.  The three boys discover the strange girl, whom they find out is called Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), and that she may know where their friend Will is.  The three boys, with the help of Eleven, begin to follow the bread crumbs leading to Wills disappearance and how to find him  before the creature does.

There are three groups of characters all following the same story beginning with: the youngest crowd of the three boys and Eleven;  Will’s older brother Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) and Mike’s older sister Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer); and Will’s mother Joyce Byers with the help of the town Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour).  All three groups allow the audience to remain fully immersed in the story while following different clues and allowing time for some character development.  While the kids are our main focus and source of entertainment we can’t help but to be intrigued by the teenagers as well as the struggles of both Joyce and Jim covering all angles for the audience to relate to.

As I mentioned, the Duffer Brothers struck gold when they created, wrote, directed and co-produced Stranger Things (which they ensure we know their names and roles by repeatedly pointing it out during the opening credits of each episode).  The opening for Stranger Things is simple creating the title accompanied by music with every element screaming 80’s and creating something so short, yet so impactful and setting the tone for the series.  The characters from the children, to the teenagers and to the adults, both main characters and side characters are so well selected that there is really nothing to complain about when it comes to actors/actresses.  The characters are engaging and the storyline is spellbinding from start to finish having the audience caught hook, line, and sinker with this science fiction horror ripe with nostalgia.

If you haven’t already been prodded by friends and family to watch the Netflix Original allow me to be the first to tell you that this is a must see that will have you on the edge of your seat from the moment the quintessential 80’s theme washes over you submersing you in a world from the past with an exotic touch of the future.