The Warner Archive August 14, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 22-episode second-season of the Greg Berlanti CW teensoap "Riverdale" terrifically follows the grand S1 tradition of giving fans a chance to either catch up or get their first look at the episodes of the prior season before the mid-October broadcast premiere of the new one, In this case, S3 premieres on October 10, 2018.
The post on the S1 Blu-ray release touches on the extended period between the conception of the series and the CW premiere after Fox abandons the project. This review also uses "Saved by the Bell" as the basis for discussing the updating of the mid 20th-century source material for Millennials. S1 going from a half-season to a real-life 22 episode boy is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the changes to this increasingly dark and edgy series.
Putting an increasingly sharp edge on the comic strips, comic books, and Saturday-morning cartoons is part of the fun. Fanboys get the bonus of the numerous Easter eggs that are homages to the kinder and simpler incarnations. One obvious one is naming a cute sheepdog puppy who joins the cast mid-season Hot Dog after the pooch of Jughead in the comics. A slightly less obvious one is naming a Goth street gang The Ghoulies in honor of the "Laugh-In" style musical variety show laden with rapid jokes that feature the friendly monsters The Groovy Ghoulies who join the pure Archieverse.
"Riveredale" additionally continues the fun of naming each episode after a film; focusing on horror films and dark dramas is particularly apt in S2. The best show of love for classic films is a moment that closely mirrors a notable moment in "Psycho."
A combination of the S2 mid-season finale providing exceptional closure even for that milestone in most modern series and of the precedent set by the fulfilled pre-S1 promise to wrap up the central mystery by the end of that 13-episode inaugural outing of the now CW hit suggests that Team Berlanti is unsure either of any second season or a full one when mapping out what comes after everyteen boy-next-door Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa) holds his construction company owner father Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) in his arms after a man who comes to be known as The Black Hood for an obvious reason shoots the elder Andrews.
S2 opens with Archie sidekick Jughead Jones (Cole "Cody" Sprouse) resuming his voice-over narrator role. This former comic-relief sidekick turned literal trailer trash on the verge of joining the feared Serpents street gang adds humor in describing his buddy racing his father to the hospital despite not having a license.
Our horny crusading teens barely get a quiet moment from there, The shooting starts Archie on a an Anakin Skywalker-caliber path toward the dark side that begins with an adorably earnest effort to protect Fred from future attacks and evolves into a campaign to become a made man in the "family" of "legitimate businessman" Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos). Hiram is the disgraced recently released ex-con father of Archie main squeeze/spoiled rich girl/aspiring Godmother Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes).
Meanwhile literal girl-next-door/Nancy Drew wannabe Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) is dealing with her own increasingly impure thoughts. Her focus throughout much of the first half of the season is divided between trying to unmask The Black Hood and meeting his demands while minimizing the collateral damage.
She spends much of her limited free time trying to convince gay best-friend/ sheriff's son Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) to stop cruising the woods near the local lover's lane for sex. The resistance to this includes the valid logic of this boy who likes other boys that Grind'r profiles often are very misleading. One can understand that a boy's gotta do whom a boy's gotta do.
A related moment provides a limited expectation of a kiss between Archie and Jughead.
Betty proves both that she is her own worst enemy and that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions in the second half of S2. Her effort to locate a long-lost relative creates mega-chaos at the Cooper household in ways that include strongly tying this story arc into the first half of the season.
A white knight in black leather dramatically tipping the scales regarding a seemingly hopeless situation related to all this is one of many awesome guilty pleasures. A common theme that this reflects is that our core group of small-town teens apparently have become so bad ass that merely threatening adults who have earned their bones scares these grown-ups into either doing as they are told or heading for the hills. This takes "Rebel Without a Cause" to the proverbial new level.
All of this culminates in typical season-ending trauma and drama that offers closure regarding parallel political races. We further get several truth-bomb laden confrontations.; this all leads to a cliffhanger that involves lodging a serious complaint against Archie. One spoiler is that all his time in high-school locker-room showers does not prepare him for the next chapter in his life.
Team Belanti also give us "very special" episodes that address societal issues. The best one involves evil nuns running a secret brutal conversion therapy program.
Archive concludes all this with the typical tremendous love that it shows home-video releases of CW series. We get deleted scenes from every episodes, a fun "behind-the-scenes" feature on an episode about a high-school musical (complete with comically HORRIBLE choreography) version of "Carrie," and another feature on the new tone of the series. Archive further comes through regarding the 2017 Comic-Con panel for "Riverdale" and a bleep-laden gag reel.
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