With this take, developed by Greg Berlanti and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa from the iconic “Archie” comic books, the titular town is one shrouded with mystery, murder and more than a little romance since the “Archie” characters are updated and definitely fit the CW brand of sexy.
In fact, in updating the characters, executive producer Sarah Schechter said that finding the right actor to play Archie proved to be the most difficult. “In this case we started about six months in advance because we knew how hard it was going to be to fill all these iconic shoes,” she said. “We were very worried, it’s very hard to do ‘Riverdale’ without Archie but luckily K.J. (Apa) walked in and we were, like, done.”
Besides Schechter, Aguirre-Sacasa and Apa, executive producer Joe Goldwater was on the panel along with cast members Luke Perry (Fred Andrews), Camila Mendes (Veronica), Lili Reinhart (Betty), Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl), Ashleigh Murray (Josie) and Cole Sprouse (Jughead).
“The big mystery of season one is definitely what happened to Jason Blossom,” said Aguirre-Sacasa said of the trajectory of the story when the series premieres midseason.
“We’re going to follow all the twists and turns of that but of course it’s ‘Archie,’ it’s ‘Riverdale,’ it’s the CW. There’s going to be a lot of romances and I can tell you that most of the people [on this panel] will become involved with each other, including Kevin (Keller), who’s not here.”
The good news for those viewers who traditionally grow frustrated over murder solving being dragged out is that “Riverdale” will not follow that path. “We will solve the mystery this season to make sure that loyal viewers get rewarded,” promised Schechter.
The look of the show also has a unique feel that comes from cinematic inspirations of Aguirre-Sacasa and Goldwater. “We thought it should be like ‘The Virgins Suicides’ or that movie ‘Heavenly Creatures,’” explained Aguirre-Sacasa. “We wanted it have that kind of timeless, dream-like look.”
Another look that needed to be just right was Archie Andrews’ iconic red hair. New Zealander Apa, who has dark hair, said, “I have to get it dyed every week pretty much. When we shot the pilot, we shot it for about three weeks and I had to have it dyed pretty much every week.”
In wanting to bring “Archie” to live action, it made sense to Aguirre-Sacasa and Goldwater to bring the project to Berlanti and Schechter. “Greg, of course, produces all the superhero shows on the CW but he’s also done coming of age like ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ he’s done small town like ‘Everwood’ so we kinda put our heads together and pitched a version of “Archie” that was a little bit more subversive, a little bit more like a teenage ‘Twin Peaks,’ that’s one of our favorite shows and it was kind of a touchtone when we were making this pilot.”
“Riverdale” will debut midseason on the CW.