Friday, April 20, 2018

A Few Words About That "Riverdale" Episode

Say, remember that Guided Tour series I did late last year?
That sucker was a lot of fun, and though I was caught up by the time it ended, that certainly didn't mean the end of the Kingdom.  I've already begun Part 16, which will span the year 2018 to the year ... well, who knows?  I'm guessing it will run through 2020 or 2021, which means you fine folks won't be seeing it anytime soon.
But I thought it made sense to post an excerpt from the work in progress, just so as to give us an excuse to talk about the episode of Riverdale that aired a couple of nights ago.  The episode in question, "A Night to Remember," involved...
...well, read this, and you'll see.
Riverdale season two episode eighteen: "Chapter 31: A Night to Remember"
(television episode)
  • broadcast on The CW on April 18, 2018
  • directed by Jason Stone from a teleplay by Arabella Anderson and Tessa Leigh Williams
  • inspired by and featuring songs from Carrie The Musical

Among the many things about which I know next to nothing: Archie Comics.  I've been aware of them my entire life, and would, prior to now,  have be able to identify Archie and Jughead for sure; I'd also be able to name Betty and Veronica and maybe tell you which was which.  And I knew that both Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch were spun off from Archie.
Beyond that?  Bupkes.
So when you tell me that Riverdale, the Archie-inspired television series, is (at least partially) about a serial killer, I don't know if that's 100% ludicrous, 100% appropriate, or somewhere in-between.  I'm sure a little bit of research could give me an answer, but to be honest, my investment level is a bit too small to make that realistic...
...for now.  That could theoretically change.  I enjoyed the episode itself well enough, and it reminded me a bit of the very first episode I ever saw of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: you guessed it, the musical episode.  It didn't make a lick of sense to me, but that was okay, because I could tell it would make sense if I'd seen what came before it, and anyways, the people were pretty and the music was good.
Ditto for this.  I might eventually decide to watch the first two seasons of Riverdale, if only because I'm probably going to buy the second when it comes out on Blu-ray.  Hey, there's a King episode; gotta have it for the collection.  And if I'm going to buy the second season, it'd feel weird not to also have the first; and if I'm going to buy them, I may as well watch them, right?
It's weird being me sometimes.
Anyways, "A Night to Remember" itself is about the Riverdale gang beginning rehearsals for a production of Carrie The Musical.  This is not AS random as it sounds, for at least two reasons.  The first reason is that the show's head honcho, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, is a huge fan of both Archie Comics and Stephen King.  On the King front, he wrote every issue of the Marvel Comics adaptation of The Stand, and also wrote the screenplay for the 2013 remake of Carrie.  On the Archie front, he's written numerous recent series for the Archie imprint, and is the chief creative officer for the entire franchise; and apparently he once (years ago) tried to stage a play in which Archie had come out, only to have it get sued by the comics publisher ... who he is the CCO for now, in what must be a titanically satisfying turn of events.  Good for him!
The second reason is that in the real world, Carrie The Musical is available for school and repertory theatre companies to produce.  Many do, every year.  I was trying to maintain a list of them at one point, and gave up because I couldn't keep up.  So not only is it not weird for the Riverdale High students to be staging it, it's 100% logical.
I enjoyed the episode for the following reasons:
  • The more I hear the songs by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford, the more I like them.  Sure, a few of them are cheesy as hell.  Maybe they're all cheesy, given the context.  But they're also memorable, and the bottom line is, I like them.  (Maybe they're just wearing me down over time, I dunno.)  And they're put to pretty good use in this episode.
  • If I interpreted things correctly, this episode was used as a sort of turning point for various storylines that have been brewing over the course of the season/series.  This seems to hint at the idea that some of those storylines may well have been written with Carrie The Musical in mind, so that the plotlines could be somewhat conversant with the songs.  If so -- and I could be wrong about that -- then that's a level of commitment from Aguirre-Sacasa and crew that I applaud.
  • Mädchen Amick (of Sleepwalkers fame) is one of the co-stars!
  • Okay, well ... I apologize for this next bit, but it's true, so I may as well say it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the manner in which co-stars Lili Reinhart (Betty) and Camila Mendes (Veronica) wore their seventies-style jeans during this episode.  Quite frankly, those jeans were, in both cases, put to spectacular use.  One hates to be the middle-aged man pointing out such things about a modern-day high-school teevee show, but there you have it: the truth. 
  • There was one great use of Pino Donaggio's score for the 1976 Carrie movie.  The episode is a love-letter to that movie, as well as to the musical. 

This was, if I am not mistaken, the first episode of a television series to be based upon a King book/story within the confines of an otherwise non-King-based series.  (I am not counting things like The Simpsons and Family Guy, or the King-penned episode of The X-Files.)  It's a cool turn of events, and a piece of proof that Carrie itself has a reach that is a bit unlike anything else in his bibliography.
By the way, I'm making a prediction now: it is April 20, 2018 when I am writing these words, and I predict that the next big-screen version of Carrie we see will be a full-blown adaptation of the musical.
I'll be there!
So that's what that section will look like come 2020/1 or so.  That, or something like it. 
I should add, for the benefit of us in the here and now, that the songs are all available on iTunes for those of you who are crazy interested enough to want to check them out.
If any of you saw the episode, or watch Riverdale, or know anything about Archie Comics worth sharing (or all/none of the above!), do please chime in below in the comments.


  1. Mr. Burnette:
    I, too, know nothing about this show and therefore I have to ask: Does Jughead where one of those hats like he does in the comics?

    1. He's not in the episode much -- he's asked by the play's director to be a videographer for the whole thing, so he doesn't sing.

      But yes, he has a hat kind of like the one in the comics. It's not AS ridiculous as that, but it is reminiscent of it.

  2. I loved those Archie digests growing up. It was a shame what happened to Dan DeCarlo, although I think the company really made moves to make amends in recent years. (I don't know all the details - it is on a list of things I want to get to, though.) Evelyn went through a brief phase with "The Archies" cartoon on YouTube. But I think it might have passed.

    Anyway this sounds like all kinds of fun. Good for them working something like this into the show.

    1. I give a thumbs-up to it just on the basis of the passion Aguirre-Sacasa clearly has for "Carrie." And if he and his fellow writers really did expend the effort to structure the season so as to harmonize with the musical, bonus points.