Between The Flash, Arrow, Gotham, Constantine, iZombie and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., comic books of all types are pretty well represented on TV right now. Compounding that are new series coming down the pipe, like the four Marvel Netflix series, Supergirl on CBS, and Powers on the Playstation Network. But something is amiss, maybe something representative of comic books that are not action/adventure, horror or super-powered oriented. If the word “Archie” just popped in your mind – Congratulations! – your mind is exactly where Fox executives is. News broke earlier today that Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and the rest will be coming to small screens sometime in the future in a “bold, subversive” new take of the 50-year-old franchise.
According to Deadline, the Archie-based series is to be called Riverdale, and it will be shepherded through development by uber-producer Greg Berlanti (of the Arrow/Flash/Supergirl series), who will produce, and Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who will write the pilot script. Aguirre-Sacasa is the author of recent Archie spin-off successes Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina.
Obviously, not much is known about the series yet, but Deadline says it will focus on “exploring the surreality of small-town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.” But what does that mean? “Surreality,” “darkness” and “weirdness” are key words there, which could be literally taken to mean that the show could go the Buffy the Vampire Slayer route and that wouldn’t be an unusual step for Archie. However, it could also mean a Desperate Housewives style approach, looking at the wholesome on the outside, rotten on the inside life of Riverdale and its residence.
The Deadline article also says that it will feature many of the key Archie characters like redheaded rogue Archie Andrews, his BFF Forsythe “Jughead” Jones, his rival Reggie Mantle and the other two points of the Archie love triangle, girl next door Betty Cooper and the rich and privileged Veronica Lodge. Kevin Keller, Archie’s first gay character is also a likely choice to be part of the cast, and appearances by other characters from the Archie group of comics, like Josie and the Pussycats, are also a possibility for some kind of recurring part.
Whatever Fox has planned for Archie, sorry Riverdale, Berlanti is certainly a good choice to lead the endeavor. Before being the skipper of DC Comics‘ TV universe, Berlanti cut his teeth as a writer on Dawson’s Creek and as the creator of Everwood and Jack & Bobby. In other words, this is a guy who knows compelling teen drama, and, if necessary, special effects laden genre TV. So no matter which way they go with Riverdale, they’re set. Unless, of course, the genre is German Expressionism.
Although several animated series have been produced featuring the Archie characters, Riverdale would be the first live-action version of the characters to make it to air. In 1990, NBC produced a TV-movie called Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again, which featured adult versions of the Archie characters. It was intended to be a backdoor pilot for a series, but the ratings didn’t justify it despite some critical success. Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, which was based on another Archie Comics book, ran for seven seasons from 1997 to 2003.
Riverdale will likely be developed for pilot season with an eye for going to series in Fall 2015. Stay tuned for updates.