Judge Bryan Pope won't admit this publicly, but while most guys were fixed on Betty and Veronica, he had an unnatural crush on Miss Grundy...((shudder)).
Let's go with The Archie Show!
I may be the one red-blooded American guy who did not grow up reading Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, et al. Did I have an aversion to men in tights? Was I afraid the stories might expose my own duality of self? Or was it simply that I knew a real, less sinister human drama was being played out in a nondescript little flyover called Riverdale? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that comic books never got better than Archie, which I suppose this says more about me than I care to admit.
Even in his most outlandish adventures, everyman Archie Andrews—he with the carrot-orange hair and candy-apple red jalopy—was, at heart, a typical, decent teenager with three passions: girls, girls, girls. Especially pretty girl-next-door Betty and rich bitc…er, vixen Veronica Lodge. Reggie Mantle, yin to Archie's yang, was always up to no good, and lazy snackaholic Jughead Jones was either chasing after his next burger or on the run from Big Ethel. In an alternate universe, the entire gang was reimagined as members of a superspy league charged with thwarting the dastardly efforts of C.R.U.S.H. If you ever got restless, you could mosey across town and visit Sabrina, or hang out with Josie and the Pussycats. Seriously, with all this action going on in sunny Riverdale, who could possibly make time for caped crusaders (although, to be sure, Riverdale had its share of those,too)? Besides, any extra time I had was reserved strictly for Richie Rich. But that's another story.
The 1968 Saturday morning cartoon series The Archie Show is not how this faithful reader—nor the vast majority of other devout fans, I suspect—envisioned life in Riverdale. John L. Goldwater's creations were brought to life by Filmation, the television animation studio that also brought us He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Journey Back to Oz and, most memorably, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. The problem here has less to do with the animation—unimaginative but colorful—and more to do with ditching everything that made Riverdale such a groovy place to hang out in the first place. True, Goldwater's stories were simplistic and silly, but they benefited from a huge network of supporting characters who always kept their feet planted within a stone's throw of reality. Archie and Reggie campaigned against each other for student body president. Reggie tried sabotaging Archie's efforts to take Ronnie to the prom. What does The Archie Show give us instead? Reggie being chased by Bigfoot on a remote island. Jughead inventing invisible paint. Like most animated shows from the late '60s, the "comedy" is punctuated by a laugh track.
Making matters worse is the unfortunate voice work. Betty Cooper comes out least scathed, sounding almost like a normal teenager. Dallas McKennon's Archie is passable, as is John Erwin's Reggie. Howard Morris, however, gives his Jughead a nasally, nerdish sound that is nothing like the cool, gluttonous cat we all know and love. Still, his voice is sheer heaven next to Veronica's god-awful Southern drawl. She's voiced by Jane Webb, who, doing double-duty as Betty, was probably looking for a gimmick to distinguish the two.
Each episode contains an original song by The Archies', none of which are a fraction as good as their bubblegum standard "Sugar, Sugar." And in case you ever wanted to see Jughead teach you out-of-this-world dance moves like "The Weatherbee" and "The Grundy," now's your chance.
Young children will likely fall head-over-heels for The Archie Show. My six-year-old son did. As for those with fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent on the couch with a giant-sized issue of Pep? Heed my warning: Steer clear.
Genius Products has given The Archie Show a not-half-bad DVD debut. The colorful cardboard packaging is encased in an equally colorful plastic sleeve. The series' seventeen episodes are contained on two discs designed to look like vinyl LPs. The show itself looks decent. Colors are bold and vibrant, and the picture is mostly free of scratches and artifacts. Fans should be pleased with the transfer. The audio, on the other hand, is weak. To the best of my knowledge, it's a Dolby 2.0 Stereo track, and it does nothing to enhance a soundtrack that is already unbearably tinny and shrill.
The package contains a 25-minute interview with producer Lou Scheimer. Scheimer is a funny, affable subject, and he has little trouble recounting the genesis of his show. Still, there's little substance here, and perhaps that's by design: Scheimer hints that many secrets about the show will be revealed on future DVD releases.
A booklet contains a reprint of the first story from the "Everything's Archie" series (Archie and the gang drive to the Filmation studio to see how their cartoon show is created. Hijinks ensue.) One curious feature is an isolated music/effects audio track on episodes 1 and 14. Each disc includes an interactive jukebox that lets you peruse all songs performed in the episodes on that disc. Finally, there's a stills gallery with model sheets from the series.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
• Interview with Producer Lou Scheimer
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