How ‘Riverdale’ takes Archie, Betty and Veronica to a darker place

As it turns out, Archie was with the school music teacher (Sarah Habel) when they heard a gunshot that night, but for obvious reasons she doesn’t want him telling the police. The CW President Mark Pedowitz describes “Riverdale” as “The OC” meets “Twin Peaks.”New Zealander KJ Apa plays the all-American teen Archie Andrews, referred to as the “ginger stallion” by Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), the school’s nasty head cheerleader. It’s her brother, Jason, who went missing on July 4. “It went from just being a coming-of-age show to a loss-of-innocence show, and it really framed every story we would tell,” he says, “a little bit darker, a little bit moodier, a little bit more noir.”And without question a little bit more adult, too.Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead and the rest are sophomores in high school, but they pretty much are 16 going on 25.

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“Get closer, though, and you start seeing the shadows underneath.” When did Riverdale become Twin Peaks?Actually, the Archie Comics universe, which began in 1941, has been moving into the weird for years, including in 2013 when Archie and the gang found themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse that begins in their hometown.The CW’s latest comic-book adaptation, “Riverdale,” doesn’t have any zombies, but it begins with a missing teen in the first episode, “The River’s Edge.” (All the episodes have movie titles.)“From a distance, it looks like so many small towns — safe, decent, innocent,” aspiring writer Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) tells the audience.
Apa says he can relate, though, in the sense that while growing up he — like Archie, who also plays on the football team — was both into sports and music, too. The situation with his teacher, however, changes the dynamics of his relationships with girl-next-door Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), his good friend who he hasn’t noticed has had a crush on him for years, and new girl in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), who moved back to Riverdale after her rich business father had been disgraced because of fraud and embezzlement charges. But what Archie really wants to become is a songwriter, playing football to please his dad. “I think Archie is just a kid who is trying to find his passion,” says Apa, 19, amending it to “trying to find out what he’s good at,” since he already has shown passion.

So he brought it to producers Sarah Schechter and Greg Berlanti, who shepherd a lot of The CW shows.“It made sense because Greg had done one of the most iconic small-town shows, ‘Everwood,’ ” says Aguirre-Sacasa, who is also a playwright and was a producer and writer on “Glee.”After the pitch, though, Berlanti told him, “You’re going to need a dead body.” Aguirre-Sacasa remembers. When Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the chief creative officer of Archie Comics, was pitching the idea of “Riverdale,” he saw it as coming-of-age story. “I thought, ‘No way,’ ” but about seven months later he came to the same conclusion.

What: A re-imagined Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead living in a more sinister hometown.When: Premieres 8 p.m. Thursday.Where: The CW.