Three out of Four
When to watch: 8 p.m. Wednesdays CW, CW.com, season one Netflix
There is no logical explanation for the addictiveness of “Riverdale.”
The dark, modern twist on the “Archie” comics oozes with over-the-top drama and teen angst. Season one deals with Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) as they investigate the mysterious death of their classmate Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines). Season two begins as a violent perpetrator wreaks havoc on unassuming Riverdale while Archie and the gang try to stop it from getting worse.
Apparently, being a modern teenager involves investigating crime (probably breaking half-a-dozen laws doing so) rather than doing homework. It’s an absolutely ridiculous premise that is completely unbelievable.
Yet, I can’t stop watching.
One possible explanation is the characters. Each one adds a complex personality to the cast. This means there are plenty of characters to like or dislike, as well as characters to relate to. The variety also means there are plenty of ways to develop characters and their relationships with others.
Another is the plot. As over-dramatic as it (at times, predictably so) the main mystery facing the kids is compelling. Episodes leave tiny breadcrumbs for viewers to follow, leading them further into the forest; but by then it’s all over. You’re hooked.
The show’s look is highly colored and theatrical. Various settings have their own lighting and color schemes. Pop’s Diner is lighter, with neon colors breaking through the dark gloom. Scenes at the high school have blue and gold hues to match school colors. The shady part of town, the Southside, is darkly lit to emphasize its unwholesomeness.
While “Riverdale” is certainly not Emmy-winning material, it gets lots of points for how quickly it can draw audiences in. If you get over the tone and style and accept some of the more far-fetched aspects (remember: high-schoolers, solving crime) there’s lots to enjoy in “Riverdale.”