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Friday, July 17, 2015

New Archies Reviewed: Episode 1A - The Visitor

Okay, so I want to warn you ahead of time that there will likely be a break in the action as I move the majority of my stuff over to the new place within the next two to three weeks, but I thought that I would at least START the cartoon feature.  And just as a back up, I've uploaded screenshots of the first six episodes on my iPad, so I can continue to do it while I move.  Trust me.  I've seen all the episodes that I can get my hands on like seven or eight times.  I know them from memory.

I've randomly chosen Friday as the day in which I will be doing the NEW ARCHIES REVIEWED portion of the blog.  To be honest with you, Fridays work best for me anyways.  I work most Thursday nights, so I can do my reviews during the day on Thursday.  And since I will be posting on average 15-20 screenshots of each half episode, it won't take me long to write the text. 

Okay, so let's begin this with episode 1A:  The Visitor

So, just to clarify, this show (which debuted September 12, 1987) is set during Archie's junior high school years.  Think of it as an animated Degrassi Junior High, only without the controversial subjects.  So, don't be shocked at the fact that Archie, Reggie, and Jughead sound like they've been inhaling helium.  They're supposed to be 12.  Or, if you want to take their 1941 birthdate in effect, they're 46-year-olds pretending they're twelve.

Anyway, we open the episode with Miss Grundy (who apparently is a glutton for punishment as she has followed Archie and the gang from preschool to high school) looking over some of the students' science fair projects and after seeing some of them in action, she wonders why she took up teaching in the first place.

At least we have Eugene to represent Riverdale Junior High with pride.  And Eugene is a rather strange character.  Apparently, he's kind of a hybrid of Chuck Clayton and Dilton Doiley.  Perhaps adding both of those characters in the show would have been too much work for the animators, and the producers were told to throw in a couple of African American characters to round out the cast.  But they already had Chuck and his girlfriend Nancy.  I mean, sure, Nancy is a third tier character who does nothing but kiss and yell at Chuck, but Chuck was an important character in the Archie universe.  And Dilton appeared in Little Archie comics!  What, did he go to a different junior high school and then attended Riverdale High with everyone else?

And Eugene seems to be a character who only appears in The New Archies.  Maybe he went to Central High, or skipped five grades and went to Yale, or fell in an open manhole or something.  You'll meet another character like Eugene around episode 2B.

Anyway, Archie decides that science class makes him narcoleptic so he falls asleep in class using Eugene's science project as a pillow.  He accidentally turns the thing on, which causes Archie to sport the awesome face above.  There's also a sound effect that goes with this face that sounds like a cat in heat.  It's quite scary.

Anyway, Eugene and Jughead (whose hat is hot pink for some reason) arrive just in time to see Eugene's project hop out the window and bounce down the street.  Eventually, the contraption crashes into a tree, which causes a huge laser beam to shoot up towards the sky. 

And the next moment, an unidentified flying object lands on Eugene's project smashing it to smithereens before settling on the ground below.  Now, I've heard of tales of aliens abducting human beings before, but I think this is the first time we've seen a human abducting an alien.  At least it's original.

Don't worry though.  This cute little guy wouldn't hurt a fly.  He was kidnapped in peace.  And surprisingly enough, when he finds out that his ship is damaged, he doesn't pull out an atomic ray gun to shoot Jughead's nose off.  Instead, he pouts about not being able to go home again. 

Well, Archie and his friends decide that they will help him find a way back home, and they dub him "Dude", as that seems to be one of the few English words our alien knows.  Funny how Dude can't speak English, but he can fully understand it.  Maybe his planet has Rosetta Stone or English for Dummies or something like that.

Of course, walking around Riverdale with a space alien who is only two feet tall would be a red alert right off the bat, so Archie and Eugene decide that he will blend in with an oversized sports jersey and Jughead's hot pink chapeau.  Because oversized jerseys make everyone invisible. 

They decide to take Dude to school where Coach Kleats is holding a basketball practice session, and where we are first introduced to the perky and sweet Betty Cooper, and the snobby, Valley Girl Veronica Lodge.  And if you thought these outfits were the worst that these characters could be wearing, you ain't seen nothing yet.

We also get to meet Reggie Mantle for the first time, and Reggie is just as egotistical and obnoxious as he is in the cartoons.  And naturally, Reggie decides that he wants to make fun of Dude.  Of course, Archie passes off Dude as Jughead's cousin (which would have worked had Archie called him Souphead), but Reggie is unimpressed and knocks Dude out with a basketball.

Seriously, Reggie throws a basketball at Dude and sends him flying across the gym.  Archie is pissed off at Reggie, but Dude is even more pissed.  You know that they're setting up for something.

In the meantime, Archie proceeds to wipe the floor with Reggie on the basketball court - which is out of character for Archie.  Usually whenever Archie plays basketball, he either knocks over a cheerleader, trips over a bench, or crashes through a wall.  But hey, it's The New Archies.  They created a character by removing character traits from two others.  Anything is possible.

Meanwhile, Dude discovers the love of his life on Earth, and how could anyone not resist Betty?  With her sweet personality, warm smile, and hair that looks like it was put together by seventy cans of Aqua-Net, how could any alien resist her?

And to show how much Dude wants Betty, he sinks a spectacular basket which causes Coach Kleats to salivate over the fact that this little Dude could be his next star player.  Well, Reggie decides that he won't let anyone steal his thunder so he proceeds to try and humilate Dude.

But a Dude never forgets when he has been wronged, and using his laser pointer finger proceeds to make another basket - with Reggie as the ball!

Back at Eugene's house, Eugene discovers the reason why the spaceship won't run.  It's out of fuel.  And Dude remarks that the only thing that will make his ship go is something called Feltzig - which Archie and Eugene have no idea what it is.  Archie decides that he may as well take Dude on a trip through town, hoping that he can find out what this Feltzig is.

While Reggie - who was hiding in the bushes and overheard the whole conversation between Archie and Eugene - wants to find the highest paying research facility to sell Dude to for the highest bidder.

So, Reggie decides to fill Veronica in on his plan (because Veronica can be just as bitchy as he is), and Veronica decides that taking Dude to her father's laboratory will be the best way for them to make lots of money and become famous for finding an alien.  Never mind that Reggie and Veronica are two of the richest kids in town already.  They're just being greedy.  Sometimes it's hard to find things to like about how Reggie seems to think that pink argyle is sexy, or how Veronica seems to think that leopard tights, lime green star earrings, and purple boots go together.  I don't recall fashion being THAT bad in '87.

And for that matter, when did the Chocklit Shop become a video arcade?  Granted, arcades were all the rage in the 1980s, but Pop's Chocklit Shop is sacred! 

And while Archie asks a confused Pop Tate what Feltzig is, Dude proceeds to blow up an arcade game inside Pop's, which amazingly nobody seems to feel is worth mentioning.  Man, Riverdale must have been a very laid back community in the 1980s, huh?

Veronica comes up to Dude, tells him that Betty is outside, and feeling his heart throbbing out of his chest, Dude proceeds to let love make him stupid as Reggie easily catches him with a potato sack.  Veronica and Reggie proceed to then use a tandem bike to take Dude to the research facility with help from an old friend.  Hey, there Smithers!  Nice to see that you stayed employed with the Lodges the whole time!

But Archie is not willing to let Dude go without a fight.  He grabs his skateboard and chases after them. 

Yeah, a skateboard/tandem bike chase.  Welcome to 1980s Riverdale!

Interestingly enough, the bike passes a hamburger stand in the middle of the park, and Dude is excited.  He screams at Archie FELTZIG!  FELTZIG!  And Archie finally clues in that Feltzig = hamburgers!

Which he probably could have found out at Pop Tate's since Pop's sells HAMBURGERS.  Heck, all Dude would have had to have done was see a poster of a hamburger on the wall of Pop's and had his FELTZIG moment.  But we never explored this because of plot issues, so we're left with a bizarre bike/skateboard chase, an alien screaming about Feltzig, and Archie looking like an idiot because they were practically at a Feltzig station just two minutes ago!

Eventually, this mercy chase comes to an end when Betty comes a walkin' down the street, which makes Dude's heart go doo-wah-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-doo.  Betty looked good, she looked fine, and Dude nearly lost his mind.  He leaps out of the bike, into Betty's arms, and Archie rescues Dude, getting a big fat kiss from Dude in the process.

Okay, so Dude was trying to kiss Betty.  Mistakes happen.

At the same time this is going on, Archie passes Eugene and Jughead who explain that Feltzig is hamburgers, and Jughead decides to throw his half-eaten burger in the ship, causing it to zoom all the way to Pop Tate's, where it lands in the parking lot as Archie and Dude arrive.  Archie orders a platter of 25 burgers from Pop's (or in Jughead terms, lunch), throws them into the spaceship, and stiffs Pop for the bill.  What's Archie's tab with the Chocklit Shop now at?  $76.98?

But it's worth it.  The tank is filled up, Dude can go home, and he bids Archie and Jughead a tearful goodbye.  It's actually a very sweet moment, given that it's a cartoon.

And not more than a few seconds after Dude blasts off, Reggie, Veronica, and Mr. Lodge show up at Pop's to grab the alien.  But Archie and Jughead play it cool as if there were no alien, and soon Mr. Lodge turns on his spoiled brat of a daughter and her stupid friend, and they go home in Mr. Lodge's limousine - which I am sure he turned off the A/C to punish them further.

(Told you I wouldn't go easy on Reggie or Veronica.)

And as the first episode closes, Archie and his dog, Red (Archie's second of three dogs - I'll explain it in the episode centered around Archie's dog) look up towards the sky where a blinking white light fills the sky and faint sounds can be heard.  Archie knows that it's Dude saying goodbye, and he says "Welcome home, Dude".

Okay, so the first episode was kind of rough.  You can automatically tell that it's the pilot episode, as sometimes the background music was fading in and out, and the voices are hard to hear sometimes.  But for the plot of the show, it's not a bad one.  It's a unique twist on a classic sci-fi plot.  Dude was definitely a cute character, and it's nice to see Archie, Jughead, and Eugene come to Dude's aid - even though they caused the situation to begin with.

So, that's the first part of Episode 1.  I'll present Part 2 next week.

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