The CW is about to delve into comic book territory again, but this time it won’t feature DC superheroes.
In the network’s new mystery thriller “Riverdale,” the familiar characters from Archie Comics get a dark, almost neo-noir update. Set in the title small town, the series reimagines Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of Riverdale High as lusty, troubled, occasionally scheming, often secretive teens embroiled in uncovering the mystery of who murdered one of their own.
Executive producer Sarah Schechter reinforced that David Lynch’s work was an inspiration for the show. She said that the opening of “Blue Velvet,” with the “green, green grass… and the severed ear” were cited often for ideas for what the vibe “Riverdale” was emulating.
Giving Archie a dark “Twin Peaks” twist was not actually the strangest thing that has happened to Archie and his friends. At the Television Critics Association press tour panel for the series on Sunday, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is an executive producer and also Archie Comics’ Chief Creative Officer, pointed out that their popular title “Afterlife With Archie” was set during a zombie apocalypse.
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Other bizarre concepts were floated also when early talks about a live-action Archie was considered for a movie. Execs knew they wanted to do a high-concept idea, one that was more than the typical coming-of-age fare featuring high school students. Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that some to the rejected ideas were making Archie a time traveler, using portals to other dimensions, and the strangest one: “What if Louis CK is Archie?”
None of those brainwaves took shape, but we can all dream.
Luke Perry, who is no stranger to starring in a high school drama thanks to his “Beverly Hills, 90210” days, weighed in on how the teen and mystery genres blend. Perry said that when he stepped on the set of “Riverdale’s” local diner, Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe, he felt it had a “kind of freaky, scary, textured Peach Pit vibe.”
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Former child star Cole Sprouse identified the most with the loss of innocence in his character and even called his early acting career as an “ex-lover.” To play the jaded Jughead Jones, he watched a three-week “Twilight Zone” binge and decided to channel enigmatic host Rod Serling to play “a darker, more broody version of my childhood self.”
This may just be the beginning of the Archie Comics franchise expanding its universe Marvel Comics-style. Aguirre-Sacasa noted that the company would like to delve into animated movies, wants to do a darker version of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” that is more akin to “Rosemary’s Baby” and that a lighter, comedic Archie is in the works for a Broadway musical written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
As for Archie’s comic book roots, that is still going strong. In addition to the multiple ongoing titles the company continues to publish, it will add another, “Riverdale.” The comic book will be a monthly title made available after the show’s premiere in late January.
“They’re not going to be adaptations of stories on the TV show,” Aguirre-Sacasa told IndieWire at press tour. “They’re going to be in the tone, and in the writers room we pitch so many stories and we can’t always tell them, so some of those stories are going to be in the comic book.”
Archie Comics Chief Executive Officer Jon Goldwater added, “It’s a nice companion piece. It’s going to be ongoing from there. As long as the series runs, the comic is coming out.”
Aguirre-Sacasa gave a little more information about the preview issue seen above. “The ‘One-Shot’ is set the summer before Episode 1, but from that point on, it’s all during the same timeline,” he explained.
“Riverdale” premieres on Jan. 26 on The CW.
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