'Riverdale' premieres Thursday: First impressions of Archie's darker world

The sexy soap-opera-ish take on the classic Archie comic characters debuts in the US Thursday on The CW.

Editors' note: With the "Riverdale" premiere approaching this week, we decided to update our take on the pilot as it was screened during the preview night of the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. This new, darker depiction of the characters from the Archie comic books premieres in the US on The CW on Thursday, January 26 at 9 p.m. The show will air in the UK and Australia on the Netflix streaming service, making new episodes available a day after their US debut. The original story, first published on July 21, is below:

On Preview Night at 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros. Television premiered the pilot episode of "Riverdale," which is based on the characters from Archie Comics.

The show, which is slated to premiere midseason on The CW, stars KJ Apa as Riverdale's own Archie Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper and Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge.


(L-R) KJ Apa stars as Archie and Luke Perry as Archie's father, Fred.

Diyah Pera/The CW

Just watching it fresh for the first time, I came away with two impressions. First, and more importantly, I enjoyed it -- more than I expected I would, honestly. Second, and of note mostly to me (but maybe to others my age), holy mackerel, do I feel old watching this.

To be sure, it's not the bright, wacky Archie I read about as a kid in hand-me-down '70s-era issues of the various Archie comics, nor is it reflective of the Archie that debuted in comics 75 years ago. It's closest to the reimagined (and quite awesome) Archie title by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, but it's darker in tone as well as soap opera-ish. After all, Riverdale is a small town that has secrets to hide (dun-dun-DUNNN). Still, I didn't find it off-putting.

It felt as if Archie along with his friends actually were in the situation the show sets up, and the way the characters are portrayed here is what they'd be like, so it both is and isn't the Archie I grew up with.

It may take me a while to get used to the idea of Miss Grundy being a young and attractive music teacher, but I feel like that's on me.

I worry that this could easily go off the rails, but even in that case, it seems like it would still be crazy fun to watch with its often hazy, dreamlike visuals. Anything's to be appreciated that distracts me from the fact that I'm far closer to the age of the gang's parents than I am to Archie and his pals.

Disclosure: The CW is partly owned by CBS, CNET's parent company.

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