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Friday, January 15, 2016

New Archies Reviewed - Episode 13B: Horray For Hollywood

Well, this is it, folks.  The final episode of The New Archies Reviewed.  And, I have to say that I'm a little bit sad about it.  I knew that with only 26 half-episodes to review that it would be a short-lived feature, but I really enjoyed writing it each week.  Even on the episodes that I didn't like!

Thankfully, the twenty-sixth and final eleven minute tale is one of my favourite episodes, and it actually stars a character that has been surprisingly underused during this whole series.

This is Episode 13B:  Horray For Hollywood.  And, no that's not a typo.

Ah, Riverdale in the early spring is a lovely place.  The flowers are blooming, trees are sprouting leaves once more, and birds are building nests.

Oh, and Betty is helping Archie fix his bike.  Again.  Boy, they really sure like making us all believe that Betty is the ultimate tomboy, don't they?  But given Betty's personality, I think she's only doing it to be closer to Archie, who we all know would drop her like a hot potato the minute Veronica blinked her pretty eyes. 

Oh, here comes Jughead with some random guy that none of us have ever seen before.  I guess he's new to town.  I wish I could remember if it was Jughead's cousin, or someone new to the neighbourhood, but my computer speaker is still busted, so I don't know for sure.  I just know the rest of the episode from memory.

Naturally, Betty is smitten by the hot new guy in town and immediately goes over to shake his hand, but gets motor oil and grease all over him which immediately turns him off.  If cell phones were around in 1987, you know he'd be swiping Betty to the left.

Betty is absolutely heartbroken over missing her opportunity to fall for random stranger #85, and Archie tries to console her by telling her how he thinks she's great because she's one of the guys.  Way to rub salt in the wound, Mr. Andrews.

Anyway, after Betty gets cleaned up, she goes to the school gym where she is on the committee to decorate the gym for the "Spring Fling" celebration.  See, there's a poster advertising the event on the wall behind Veronica's reflection.  Leave it to Veronica to find an excuse to show off her vanity.

Inside the gym, Betty shows off her decorations, and you know, given what the gym looks like, it looks very typical to what my Grade 7 class would have done.  Fake trees, lots of's very...Betty Cooper.  Pure, innocent, lovely. 

Of course, Veronica hates it all.  She hates the cardboard cutouts of the spring forest.  She hates the cheap and tacky decorations that Betty probably worked on all day long.  She hates the birds in the nest that apparently explode upon contact with the floor.

You thought I was kidding about the bird's nests, right?

Basically, Veronica hates everything that doesn't revolve around her.  And she basically tells Betty that everything she did was boring.  Wow, and Veronica's supposed to be Betty's BEST friend. 

Thankfully, Big Ethel appears and totally makes fun of Veronica as she is tearing Betty apart.  And when Betty starts laughing, Veronica tells off both Betty and Ethel before storming off which makes Betty and Ethel laugh even harder.

God, I love it when Veronica is on the receiving end of the joke.  Maybe that's why I love this episode so much.

Anyway, Betty and Ethel are walking down the street (where apparently DIC Studios - the company that animated this series - is in the background), and Betty is complaining that nobody notices her because of her image.  Well, okay, your blue and white shirt/pink overall combo makes you look like a Cabbage Patch Kid, but I wouldn't call you ugly, Betty.  Instead, Ethel calls her sensible and reliable, which Betty interprets as "why don't you just stab me in the heart and be done with it, Ethel?"

Okay, Betty is overreacting here, but given that this is really the only episode that is based around her alone and it was the last episode of the series, I can see how she might feel like she's a background character.  Heck, they gave Eugene like four stand alone episodes, and even Smithers received one before she did! 

Betty decides that she's done with the pink overalls and blonde hair.  She finds an ad in the newspaper that advertises giving preteen girls like herself a whole new look and how if she changes her look, she can change her life.  We all know that the real way to get people's attention is to be yourself, but let's watch as Betty learns that lesson the hard way.

And, let's watch poor Smithers get completely worn down by Veronica yet again while Archie tries to carry in all of his books at once.  I must say, this is great continuity from the last episode...makes me wonder if that was intentional.  Probably not, as this episode had a different writing team.  Still, it's nice to think about.

Once inside the school, however, Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Reggie are in complete shock over what they see.  Did the chemistry lab blow up?  Is Mr. Weatherbee kissing MS. Grundy? 

Oh,'s only Bett---WHOA!  What the hell happened to Betty?  Her hair is the colour of Archie's, her clothes are garish to the max, and honestly, she looks like someone very familiar to me, but I can't think of who it is right now.  I'm sure it will come to me.

Whatever the case, her sexy new look isn't enough to get her thrown out of class.  But her new, unimproved attitude isn't winning her any brownie points with MS. Grundy. 

I mean, would your teacher think that you were the best student ever if you blew off your homework assignment on the Magna Carta to paint your fingernails?  Okay, so the animation frame doesn't make it look like Betty did much of anything with her nails, but trust me.  She did something to them.  And what did Betty's honesty about not doing her homework get her in the end?  A detention!  Wow, that must be like the first detention Betty has gotten in...well...ever.

Now, it seems that most of the people at Riverdale Junior High aren't that impressed with Betty's new look.  One person who absolutely loves it is Reggie, and now that Betty is dressed totally inappropriately for a 12-year-old in 1987 - seriously, she looks like she's wearing a leotard out in public - Reggie has decided that he wants to date her.  But Betty blows Reggie off, and walks inside Pop's where she has a lunch date with Veronica.  Reggie just stands there thinking that he's made the biggest fool of himself, but really, the only person who is making a fool of themselves is Betty.

THAT'S IT!  I KNOW WHO BETTY RESEMBLES!  She's trying to be Stacey Q!  I mean, just look at the screenshot from her 1988 single "Don't Make A Fool Of Yourself"!  Does she not kind of look like her?  Stacey Q!  She's so rad!  In this case though, Betty shouldn't expect D.J. Tanner and Kimmy Gibbler to ask her for her autograph.

Because the normally punctual Betty is extremely late for her lunch date with Veronica, and Veronica is none too impressed with Betty's new attitude.  Then before Veronica can order any food, Betty blows her off again and says that she has to redo the whole gym for the Spring Fling festival.  Oh, and she wants everyone to start calling her "Jasmine".  Unless she plans on marrying a guy named Aladdin, Betty should probably just stick to her own name.

The next people to face the wrath of Jasmine Betty are Archie and Jughead, who seem put off by Betty's "this is the new me, so get used to it" way, and Archie remarks that they miss the old Betty.  Truth be told, I kind of miss the old Betty too.  This one doesn't connect with me at all.

Then we have what appears to be a tacked on scene at a roller skating park which really has no business being in this episode except to fill up a minute or two (which detracts from this episode being my all-time favourite).  All the scene shows is Jughead, Ethel, and Veronica complaining about the new Betty, Reggie and Jughead getting into a roller skating race, and Ethel protecting Jughead by shoving Reggie into a pond.  Again, while I love seeing Reggie get his comeuppance in this show, this scene felt forced.

But I guess the trip to the roller skating park took up enough time for Jasmine Betty to fix up the gym.  I can only imagine what the Spring Fling celebration looks like now.

Judging by the reaction of her friends, I'm guessing it's scary.  Very scary.

I honestly wish that I had a sound clip of the background music playing during this scene.  It's definitely as bold and garish as the decorations that Jasmine Betty has put up.  I'm just going to go on a limb and say that she probably checked out every book on African tribal celebrations and went with that as the theme.  Now, granted, if this was anywhere else but a junior high school gymnasium, I'm sure most of us would find this gathering to be unique and festive.  Archie and the gang are wondering if this day could get any worse.

Well, right off the bat, Jughead is very much disgusted with the food that Betty has served.  Seriously, who serves Steak Tartare at a junior high school dance?  No wonder Jughead looks like he wants to throw up.

Then again, Jasmine Betty's outfit is enough to make anyone sick.  I think she's given up the Stacey Q look, and is now trying to be a cross between a Power Ranger and Lisa Simpson.  What I'm interested in is how she got the money to buy all these clothes.  Betty's family is middle class at best.

Jughead immediately turns up his nose at the food and Betty as Betty asks Archie to dance.  Archie looks at the band, looks at Betty, and just shakes his head in disbelief as Betty's heart begins to split in two.

Betty goes to Ethel and Veronica and asks them if they'd like to go to the powder room with her.  Now, powder room is slang for bathroom, but it could also be slang for a room where people go and do cocaine.  I'm sure hoping Betty has to go to the bathroom because if she's doing cocaine, that would be too much of a personality change!  But Veronica and Ethel exclaim that they don't do powder rooms anymore and they storm off with a nasty look on their face.  I would have a sour look on my face too if I stopped going to the bathroom too!

And this is where Betty finally starts to swallow that enormous slice of humble pie she's been asking for all week long.  It's sad to see her crying, but at least this way, she's learning the valuable lesson of being yourself.

I mean, Betty's so desperate for people to talk to that she even tries to cling onto Reggie the same way those leeches clung onto River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton in the movie "Stand By Me".  And, at first Reggie is so mean and nasty to Betty that Betty slinks away with her tail between her legs...but after Betty leaves, Reggie decides to accept her offer and is stunned to find that she's already left.  It sounds funnier than I wrote it, but it really is a great sight gag.

Betty enters Pop Tate's where Pop is working the soda fountain.  Before Betty can order herself a root beer, she immediately bursts into tears right in the middle of the restaurant.  It truly does make you feel for her, and while it is true that she let her new look go to her head, it doesn't make her a terrible person.  Betty was always the most sensitive of the group, and as someone who is sensitive himself, that's not always a bad trait to have.

Eugene happens to pass by Pop Tate's at the time that Betty has her meltdown and he rushes off towards the school where even though the rest of the gang told Betty how much they hated the party, they still stayed because I think they felt a little bit of obligation to be there for Betty.

At least, that's what I'd like to think anyway.

Eugene comes bolting into the gym and tells them what he saw.  He tells them that Betty was crying her eyes out and the rest of the gang is now starting to feel bad.  And aside from a snarky comment from Reggie, the rest of the gang start to look around at the gym and realize that although Betty completely missed the mark, she did create a party that everyone would talk about.  And she did really put all of her effort into it.  More importantly, Archie, Jughead, Veronica, Reggie, Ethel, and Moose - who randomly appears out of nowhere - are realizing that maybe they could have met her halfway and tried to be there for her more.

Back at Pop Tate's, Betty spills her guts about the past week to Pop Tate about how she turned herself into Stacey Q to get people to like her.  You know, Stephanie Kaye tried the same thing on Degrassi Junior High around the same time, and look what happened to her.  She ended up leaving after season two because everyone hated her.

Anyway, while Betty is feeling sorry for herself, Archie and the gang congregate outside of Pop's and wink through the window letting Pop Tate know that they have a surprise for Betty.  As the gang set it up, Betty remarks that Veronica made her feel bad about the decorations she made for the Spring Fling.  Pop asks her if Veronica helped with the decorations, and Betty realizes that Veronica's opinion really meant nothing if she wouldn't do any of the work.  That's it, Betty...let those wheels turn.  Betty also told Pop Tate about how Ethel said she was sensible and reliable, and Pop is wondering in what universe those would be considered the ultimate insult.  I have to say, I love that we're seeing "Pop Psychology" and wonder why Pop Tate never appeared in more than two episodes.

But Betty says that she went about everything the wrong way and should have stuck to being herself because now she has no friends...

...that is until Ethel and Veronica surprise her with one of the bird nests that Betty worked so hard on, bringing a smile to Betty's face.

You see, Archie and the gang found Betty's old Spring Fling decorations and decided that they would bring them to Pop's so they could enjoy their own party - with Betty as the guest of honour.

Pop decides that it's a good time to offer the gang free ice cream, and Betty happily remarks that she has the best friends in the whole world.

And with that, we have the last episode of The New Archies.  And what a great one it was at that.  Betty was the star of the episode, she learned a valuable lesson, and the whole episode - aside from random roller skate scene - was very well presented.  And I bet Betty feels extremely lucky to have friends who just want her to be happy.

And, that's a wrap.  Next Friday, I'll offer up a season recap, along with some final thoughts about this cartoon.

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