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Friday, July 24, 2015

New Archies Reviewed - Episode 1B: Ballot Box Blues

So every Friday (or at least for now until I go on hiatus to move all of my stuff from the apartment to the house), I will be reviewing one half episode of "The New Archies", as voted by all of you over the last month.  In some reviews, I will have some screenshots, but in others, I won't (because some episodes are not posted online at all).  I haven't decided how I will work this out yet, but I have seen all of the episodes multiple times, so I believe that I can at least describe all of them.

Today we'll be looking at the second half of episode number one - "Ballot Box Blues".  Gee, I wonder if this episode will feature an election of some sort?

Well, it turns out that we'll have to wait for that, as Archie is late for school.  Again.  And he'll have to make it on his skateboard because as this show likes to remind us, Archie and the gang are twelve years old in this show, and none of the people have a driver's license.

Oh, on the way, he picks up Jughead.  I mean, he literally runs over Jughead and carries him in his arms to school while Jughead is listening to rock music on his Walkman.

Walkmans.  I remember those.

Inside the school, Miss Grundy is collecting homework assignments from the rest of the class who bothered to show up.  Betty and Veronica eagerly hand Miss Grundy their papers, but when Miss Grundy approaches Reggie's desk, Reggie is trying to come up with an excuse as to why he decided to forego doing his homework to play "Out Run" at Pop's Chocklit Shop Video Cafe, and is praying for something to interrupt the class like a fire drill or a surprise assembly...

...or Jughead and Archie smashing through the classroom door on the skateboard spinning Miss Grundy on the floor before crashing into the coat closet. 

For some reason, this screenshot makes me think of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)".  Hey, maybe that's what Jughead was listening to on his Walkman!

Anyway, Miss Grundy - who apparently has been working out to her Jane Fonda workout tapes - throws Archie, Jughead, and Archie's dog Red (who hitched a ride with Archie) into their desks...and then throws Red out of the classroom, as dogs can't go to Riverdale Junior High.  At the same time, Reggie tries to pass off Moose Mason's homework as his own - which if you've read the comics you know is a stupid idea, as Moose isn't exactly the class brain.  He'd be better off trying to use fake-Dilton Eugene's paper.

Oh, and nobody rocks a pair of salmon coloured pants quite like Moose.  He's such a fashion forward kind of guy, you know.

Once everyone is settled into their seats, Miss Grundy announces that it is time to elect the class president, and asks for nominees.  And I'll be honest, at first, I wondered why no 8th graders wanted the job.  Assuming that Archie and the gang are 12, that would make them 7th graders.  But since it's class president, maybe they're electing the president of Miss Grundy's class...heck, it's not like Grundy has any control over her classroom anyway.

Reggie is immediately taken out of contention, as he seems to be only interested in the money (of which, student body presidents actually DON'T get paid).  And Jughead's too busy listening to Billy Idol to even care.  Seriously, throughout this whole episode, Jughead does not say ONE WORD.  It's kind of creepy.

She then approaches the table where best friends forever Betty and Veronica are sitting, but neither one want to run for president because they would never want to destroy their friendship, and they really want to have their friendship last as long as it takes to go to Target to go bra shopping.

FUN FACT:  Veronica's significant Valley Girl accent is performed by voice actress Alyson Court, who was only fourteen when she was cast.  You may also recognize her voice in "My Pet Monster", "Beetlejuice", and the "Resident Evil" series.  She also played Loonette on "The Big Comfy Couch"!

Anyway, after they tell Grundy that politics will ruin their friendship, Betty dreams about what holding the presidency would be like...

...and Veronica does the same, comparing Riverdale Junior High to a monarchy.

And then both decide - screw the mall, I wanna be president after all!  They give each other one final handshake, and wish the other one luck...but in this screenshot, you can clearly see that they want to decapitate the other one.  And to think, this was set at a time before online social media.  Whatever will they do?

Well, at recess (I'm jealous, since I never got recess during my seventh grade year), Veronica decides to throw the "men can't resist my charms" card into play, and insists that Archie be her campaign manager.  To which Betty arrives and plays the "we've been fighting over this fruit loop for seven decades, so what's another 45 seconds" card, and claims that Archie is her campaign manager.

Alas, just before we witness Love Triangle Fight #32,362, Archie unzips his jacket to reveal whose side he is on.  And after Veronica contemplates hiring Smithers to kick him in the no-no spot, Reggie comes over and decides to team up with Veronica, partly to stick it to Archie, but partly to see what special perks Veronica will give him.

But as we all know, hiring Archie and Reggie as your campaign managers would be like trusting Pig Pen from Peanuts to clean your car.  Reggie gets frustrated when all Veronica wants to do is go shopping, while Betty's promise of adding more spinach to the cafeteria menu elicits this humourous reaction from the crowd.

Yeah, need help.  Because while Betty is promising greenery of the edible kind, Veronica is promoting another kind of greenery of the spendable kind.  That's right, Veronica is attempting to buy votes - which is pretty much accurate in standard politics. 

So, Archie decides to fight fire with fire, and encourages Betty to make promises too.  Betty doesn't have a lot of money, but she does have a really nifty looking headband that her spiky ponytail is wrapped around.  Seriously, was she channeling Spike from "Degrassi Junior High" with that style?

Now, I get that it's a cartoon, and cartoons aren't supposed to make sense, but not more than 10 seconds after Betty gives one girl her headband, Archie tosses dozens more into the crowd, all of them with Betty's name stitched on them.  How in the hell did Archie get all those in such a short time?  Did he have Kelly, Slater, and Jessie sell them the Buddy Bands they didn't sell?  Is Archie a speed knitter?

Not to be outdone though, Reggie recruits Moose to help him get rid of Betty's soapbox, only for Reggie to get spun into a swimming pool where a distracted Jughead is listening to "Splish Splash" on his Walkman.  And this prompts Veronica to offer designer jeans and baseball jackets to all of the students.  Geez, I don't remember getting free clothes during our elections.  We were lucky if we got a button or a stick of gum!

We then cut to Moose (who, I should mention looks 31 instead of 12 in this cartoon) holding a kite that has Archie telling everybody to vote for the pork belly instead of the liver for lunch at the cafeteria today.

Oh, wait.  Archie wasn't finished yet.  Yeah, vote Betty.

This makes Veronica very angry.  She feels that by not hiring Archie, she would never see her name in the clouds.  Considering that it probably cost Archie six weeks of allowance to rent the cloud writer, Archie's probably happy that Betty's name only had five letters.

Don't worry though.  Reggie's nailing a huge banner at the top of the school roof and Veronica is yelling at him until he gets the banner higher than Betty's sky sign.  Who cares if Reggie falls off the ladder and goes kersplat on the front staircase.  Veronica's reputation is at stake!

Speaking of reputations, fake Dilton Eugene is showing Betty his new invention.  A paint sprayer that will paint all of Betty's election signs in seconds.  You know what else would work?  A paintbrush!  And, hey look!  Betty suggests the same thing!  But Eugene stands by his invention...

...well, until Betty turns it on, sprays Eugene with a stream of bright red paint, and is sent zooming away across the yard.  Seriously, how much horsepower did Eugene use in that thing?

At least we get treated to a funny sight gag as Betty sprays Jughead with the paint sprayer, and Jughead is completely oblivious to the fact.  Maybe he was listening to Simply Red while all this was going on.

Back to Archie and Moose, Moose's problem isn't a blonde with a deadly paint sprayer.  Apparently the flies get really bad at Riverdale Junior High, and Moose is so busy trying to kill the fly that he lets go of Archie!

But you know where Betty is?  She just gave Veronica a fashion makeover.  After all, red is the new black!  And while Veronica admires her brand new look, a panicked Moose knocks Reggie off the ladder, Reggie goes kersplut, and the episode ends with the class grieving at Reggie's funeral.

Just kidding.

Actually, Reggie uses the banner as a parachute, and for kicks and giggles, takes the crimson faced Veronica along for a ride. 

Archie - completely helpless up in the sky - manages to call for help, and he is surprisingly fluent in backwards cloud writing.  He is a man of many talents!  But with Betty approaching from the east, and Reggie and Veronica soaring towards him from the west, Archie who is dead center realizes that there is going to be a big kaboom in his future.

This is Archie's "Oh, Crap" face.

I guess it's a good thing the sandbox broke their fall.  But what the hell kind of a junior high school has a sandbox in the first place?  Did they bring the sandbox from the grade school along with Mr. Weatherbee and Miss Grundy?

So, after half of Miss Grundy's class is painted red, and four of the students almost end up getting killed during what was the most vicious presidential campaign in Riverdale history, Betty and Veronica decide that super powered paint sprayers, skywriters, designer jeans, and Buddy Bands aren't enough to make them stop being friends, and they decide to drop out of the race.

Which prompts Reggie and Archie to make up as well, even though they never really interacted with each other in the episode at all, and they were surprisingly civil towards each other.  Then again, every 80s show usually ended with a high five, so maybe that's what this is.

So, after all that, who won the election?

Well, apparently Jughead was so apathetic about the democratic process that he decided to write himself in as a candidate.  And since everyone else in the class was blinded by promises of headbands and baseball jackets, they never bothered to vote!  Typical politics.  The more people abstain from voting, the more that the worst possible candidate wins.

But hey, the class is happy.  That's all that counts.

And as the camera pans on Jughead one last time, I imagine him snoozing while Arcadia's "Election Day" plays on his Walkman.  He's had that thing on so long, it's a wonder he has never had to change the batteries on it.

Before I wrap up this review, there's one final note.  Although it doesn't really have anything to do with "The New Archies", I want to pay tribute to one of Archie's artists, Tom Moore, who passed away at the age of 86.

Thank you for the memories.  And your work will forever live on.

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