Writer: Kimmer Ringwald
Director: Jim Simon
Original Air Date: Saturday, September 12, 1987
In 1987, DiC Entertainment and Saban Entertainment got a license to make an Archie cartoon series. However, from what I understand, the rights to the teenage version of the characters were licensed to some movie studio to make a live-action Archie film that never happened, so DiC re-imagined the gang as tweens attending Riverdale Junior High. The series debuted on NBC, coincidentally, exactly 17 years after the premiere of “Josie and the Pussycats“.
I never saw this series back when it originally aired. However, I did see a commercial for it when reruns were aired on The Family Channel, probably in the 1991-1992 season (I believe that’s when my family first got cable). I still didn’t watch it, though, even though I had become aware of Archie in 1990, when my mom bought me a digest from the supermarket check-out line. It wasn’t until early 2013 that I found this series on YouTube (it’s not available on DVD) and watched it.
Details about this series are sketchy and contradictory. There are two story segments per episode. There are either 13 or 14 episodes, meaning there are either 26 or 28 story segments. However, I’ve never seen either of the two segments of the supposed episode #14 that some sites list (and 13 was a standard number of episodes for a cartoon series at the time), but I’ll deal with that when I get there.
Yeah, this is the first “featured” series for this blog, meaning it’s one of three that I’ve chosen to review in its entirety. Why? Well, I remember enjoying it.
I found an old commercial for the series on YouTube. Here’s what the narrator had to say:
“They’re back, and they’re hotter than ever. It’s those rockers from Riverdale, The New Archies: Archie and Reggie, Betty and Veronica, the incredible Jughead, and all their wild and crazy friends. The New Archies will make you scream with laughter. They’re hip. They’re hot. They’re happenin’. They’re The New Archies. Whatever you do, don’t miss ’em.”
Does the series live up to the hype? We’ll soon find out. First, though, I need to comment on the title. The series is obviously saying it’s an update of “The Archie Show” (where The Archies debuted). The commercial makes it clear that this is supposed to be the Archie of today, not your parents’ Archie. Archie is supposed to be cool. We’ll see.
Here is the main voice cast:
J. Michael Roncetti – Archie Andrews
Lisa Coristine – Betty Cooper
Alyson Court (!!!) – Veronica Lodge
Sunny Besen Thrasher – Reggie Mantle
Michael Fantini – Jughead Jones
Rex Hagon – Hot Dog (uncredited)
Marvin Goldhar – Mr. Weatherbee
Colin Waterman – Eugene
Greg Swanson – Coach
Karen Burthwright – Amani
Victor E. Erdos – Big Moose
Jazzmin Lausanne – Big Ethel
Linda Sorenson – Miss Grundy
IMDb also credits a Stevie Vallance (credited as Louise Vallance) as providing additional voices.
First, let’s look at the opening title sequence and theme song:
As you can see, the series is trying to convince us that it’s cool and modern.
And nothing says “cool and modern” like a reference to “The Wizard of Oz”.
There’s also a random, boring shot of the outside of the school.
The More You Know
Random Extreme! zoom-in on “Pop’s”
For whatever reason, Veronica is the one shown to be keeping a diary, whereas it’s Betty that normally keeps a diary in the comics.
The theme song is upbeat and kind of catchy. It’s nominally sung by The Archies.
Now that we have an idea of the kind of series that we’re in for, let’s look at the first segment:
At Riverdale Junior High School, Miss Grundy asks Jughead about his science project.
It’s an automatic sandwich maker and Jughead feeder, because Jughead is a lazy motherfucker that likes to eat a lot.
It also (harmlessly) explodes, because Jughead is also a fucking idiot that can’t build anything worth shit.
Miss Grundy angrily exclaims “Arson!” – and then just shrugs and walks away. Seriously.
Archie is daydreaming. Eugene is working on a science project and then suddenly informs Archie (with absolutely no indication from Miss Grundy) that it’s time for recess and fucking leaves.
Oh, yeah, Eugene. He’s one of the characters “original” to this series. By “original”, I mean he’s Dilton Doiley turned black, I guess to make the cast more diverse, because it’s not like Archie Comics already had any black characters or anything.
Archie decides to take a quick nap before heading outside, but then Eugene’s invention starts doing weird shit (it’s explained Archie accidentally turned it on, but it doesn’t really look like it; Archie’s arm just brushes against one of its antennas).
It gets up and walks away.
Eugene, Archie, and Jughead leave school grounds to chase after it. Strangely, Eugene is clueless as to what his invention actually does.
It suddenly stops and sends a beam into the sky.
Hmm, this visual seems to place Riverdale in California.
The beam grabs hold of a (seemingly nearby) spaceship and pulls it and its alien pilot down to Earth.
After a bit of uncertainty, the guys befriend the alien (and are not astounded by the confirmation of extraterrestrial life at all), and Archie vows to fix this and get the little guy home.
Seemingly, absolutely no one else sees the alien. Seriously, I know television animation budgets are limited, but it’s awfully convenient that the streets are completely deserted.
Back at Archie’s house (fuck school, I guess), they’ve “disguised” the alien. I guess both of Archie’s parents are at work.
By the way, I like the subtle joke on Archie’s letter jacket: a lowercase “r” instead of a capital “R”.
Through the power of shitty continuity, they’re suddenly outside.
Jughead points out the alien’s antennae, and Archie, to Jughead’s protest, wants to hide them with Jughead’s hat.
Later, Jughead feels “naked” without his hat.
Back at school, Betty and Veronica are cheering…during gym class. Betty seemingly can’t spell “Riverdale”. Veronica gives up on this shit.
Archie brings the alien to motherfucking gym class instead of stashing him at home. The coach (who might be Coach Kleats from the comics, although he doesn’t really look like him) chews Archie out for being late. Archie introduces him to “Jughead’s cousin”.
Reggie comes by and inflicts physical violence on the alien, because he’s an asshole.
Archie has “Dude” (that’s pretty much the only word that the alien knows) sit in the bleachers and watch them play.
We then get a boring montage of one-on-one basketball in which Archie schools Reggie.
Betty and Veronica do an “Archie” cheer.
Only then does the alien notice them and decides he wants to be the salami in that womanwich. “Dude” even has his tongue hanging out.
The alien howls, runs over, jumps on Betty, and intends on putting his antennae to good use.
Veronica finds the sexual assault of her friend hilarious.
Of note, Veronica has a Valley Girl accent on this series. That’s certainly an improvement over the Southern accent (and it certainly fits in with Riverdale seemingly being in California on this series), but it still doesn’t fit Veronica as she’s portrayed in the comics.
The alien takes the basketball from Reggie, uses his short size to get past all of the other players (who are suddenly there), and manages to do a slam dunk.
The coach is impressed. Reggie isn’t and challenges the alien.
The alien catches Reggie in a beam and nearly brutally murders him. No one thinks this strange or concerning. Then again, no one can tell this dude isn’t human either, because “disguise”.
Archie takes “Dude” away. The coach enthusiastically calls the alien “out of this world”. Ha.
After the commercial break, Eugene is repairing the alien spacecraft out in the open (school’s over, I guess, or else they’re ditching). The ship’s out of fuel, though. Archie asks the alien about it, and the alien, with no indication that it comprehends the question, gives some alien word in response.
Awww, the alien misses his family.
They go off to search for the fuel to power an alien spaceship.
Reggie has overheard and starts orgasming over the money that he’s gonna make.
Reggie and Veronica find Archie and the alien at Pop’s. Yeah, Reggie and Veronica are kind of cohorts on this series. In the old comics, Reggie and Betty were often cohorts, because Betty wanted Archie and Veronica broken up.
Apparently, Veronica’s dad owns a research laboratory, and Reggie entices Veronica with dreams of headlines.
Archie questions Pop (who’s greying on this series, despite it taking place earlier in “continuity”) about the alien fuel.
Yeah, that’s about the reaction that Archie should have expected.
The alien is intrigued by a space-themed arcade game…
…and accidentally blows it up (harmlessly, of course).
Veronica comes by and says she saw something (daddy? her accent’s so thick that I can’t tell) outside, which excites the alien, who runs outside.
Reggie bags him.
Veronica is concerned with the alien’s well-being.
That doesn’t stop her from making a getaway with him, though. Even Smithers is in on it. I wonder how much that Veronica told him.
Also, Smithers, too, is greying on this series, despite having black hair “later”.
Archie gives chase.
When they pass a hamburger stand, the alien is excited and yells the name of (presumably) his spaceship’s fuel.
Archie picks up on this and lets Jughead and Eugene know.
Jughead puts his hamburger into what he (correctly) guesses is the fuel slot.
The ship takes off. Jughead has fun with it. He also somehow is able to hear Eugene yelling to him from the ground.
The alien sees Betty, gets a boner, and jumps into her arms. Archie skate by and grabs him, and…
Veronica is pissed and decides to go to her dad.
Jughead finally crashes the spaceship at Pop’s.
By the way, I distinctly remember the above shot being used in a commercial (probably on The Family Channel), but Jughead said “dig this” instead of “rad ride”. Did they use a different take specifically for the commercial?
Pop comes out and demands to know what the fuck is going on. Archie is evasive.
Mr. Lodge is on the way. That was fast.
Archie and Jughead have Pop get hamburgers.
Archie deposits them in the larger fuel tank.
The alien is attached to Archie and doesn’t wanna leave.
Archie puts the alien in the spaceship. The alien returns the hat to Jughead, who “almost forgot” it. Jughead’s characterization is weird in this episode. He willingly gets rid of a hamburger. He almost forgets his hat. I guess you could chalk it up to the character being younger.
After a tearful goodbye, the alien leaves.
Mr. Lodge (who didn’t see any of this happen and who also, for whatever reason, was driving his own limo) demands Veronica show him the alien. Veronica demands Archie show him. Archie and Jughead bullshit a bit.
Mr. Lodge takes Veronica home for some spankings and Reggie to his home, where he’ll have a talk with his parents.
That night, Archie takes out the trash.
Archie looks up at the night sky, sees a bright blinking light, and presumably hears Dude’s voice.
The closing credits sequence is more animation in the same vein as the opening sequence (with the credits overlayed), and there’s a shortened version of the opening theme.
So this is “The New Archies”. Either you like it, or you don’t. I like it. I know it doesn’t look as colorful and vibrant as “The Archie Show” (although part of that might be due to the VHS quality), but, if this segment is any indication, I’ll enjoy the plots more. Sure, it’s typical 1980s fluff and cheese with its fair share of stupidity, but sometimes, like when you’re relaxing after a stressful day, that’s all that you want.
No laugh track here. This is cool, modern Archie, bitches. He don’t need no damn laugh track.
The cast is pretty good in their roles. Nothing particularly outstanding, but the voices, for the most part, fit the characters.
Archie Comics published a “The New Archies” comic book in the style of the show that lasted for 22 issues, running from November of 1987 to May of 1990 (cover dates). Yeah, it was really infrequent.
There was also a “The New Archies Comics Digest Magazine” that ran for 14 issues from May of 1988 to July of 1991 (cover dates). From what I’ve read, these digests didn’t contain just reprints; they contained a bunch of new stories! This makes sense, considering digests are so much thicker than regular comic books. So that’s a lot of extra New Archies material to check out if you’re interested. In fact, I bet every issue of each of these two series contains more story content than each episode of the cartoon series!
We’ll be staying with “The New Archies” on this blog for a while – until the first big review is ready. Yeah, if you know about the history of Archie on television, you know what I’m talking about.
Tune in next Wednesday!
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