Okay, I'll warn you about something regarding this week's edition of "The New Archies Reviewed". This is one of those episodes where it's more or less a "cause" episode. It's one where you do see the whole cast of characters coming together to fight for what they believe in.
In this case, they're fighting to save a tree. One tree. Not a park. Not a forest. Not the Amazon. Just one tree. In some cases, some may throw up their hands and say screw it. But when you throw in sentimental feelings, it's hard not to disagree with the way the Archie crew handled it.
It's time for Episode 8B: Wooden It Be Lovely?
And already they screw it up by making a mistake in the spelling of the word lovely. How "loverly".
Okay, so this time the episode opens up at a small little treehouse in a giant tree. And there seems to be lots of laughter and good times coming from the top of the tree. It's almost like a group of kids have built their own Studio 54 high up in the branches where the only thing missing is a record player blaring Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" to the masses.
Ah, but here comes
the Angel of Death Betty on her bicycle with some really bad
news! Apparently, Archie and the gang
built that treehouse years ago and it is their official hangout - well, actually,
it's their official hangout that doesn't charge any money unless you're Jughead
and you owe Pop Tate a hundred dollars on his tab. But if the city has their way, their treehouse is set to be
demolished so that the town can build a new warehouse.
Naturally, the majority of the gang is saddened by the news that their treehouse is going to be no more and they start having flashbacks of some of the things that they used to do in the treehouse.
BETTY: Hey, Veronica, remember when I tried to give you a perm and you ended up looking like a Troll Doll? Wasn't that just the most radical thing ever?
EUGENE: Hey, Archie and Jughead! Remember when you ended up getting
the mumps and you had to be quarantined inside the treehouse because your parents
didn't want you infecting the neighbours and how we had to send you food while
wearing masks? Wasn't that totally
MOOSE: Hey, remember when Jughead and Reggie
high on drugs spun around and around on that tire swing and Jughead got so sick
he threw up in Mrs. Schweckner's rose bushes?
Like, that was totally sick man.
In fact, I think I'm gonna be sick...BLAAAAAAAUGH!!!
Of course, there's one notable dissenter. For some reason Reggie has all but accepted the fact that their treehouse is doomed and that there's nothing that they can do about it. Well isn't he a pocketful of sunshine!
Naturally, Archie has not let Reggie's bad attitude stop him and his friends from taking a stand and he and the rest of the group brainstorm ways to stop the big bad city from knocking down their tree. Amusingly, Reggie tries to sit out of the meeting, but Betty drags him into the circle! Why do I get the feeling that Reggie is keeping a secret that nobody else is supposed to know?
Night falls and the plan is in motion. It turns out that the Archie gang has just finished watching "Ernest Goes To Camp" and seem to have taken their defense strategy directly from the group of kids who were determined to save Kamp Kikakee.
Eugene is blowing up twenty...oh, wait. Make that nineteen water balloons. Again with the water balloons? What, is that the only weapon the writers will let them have?
Amani arrives with a beehive filled with bees that she plans on putting inside the tree telling Archie that the bees will sting anyone who gets near the tree. She later helps Eugene with the water balloons because she is contractually obligated to have at least 45 seconds of airtime each episode. Seriously, what the hell is the point of Amani's character?
Oh, and Betty and Veronica are tying Moose to the tree because they have the suspicion that the bulldozers will probably not want to knock the tree down if they have a 12-year-old trapped in a 31-year-old's body attached to the front of the tree. But what's interesting is that Moose has come up with a protest song to sing to the people when they come tomorrow. Here are the lyrics. I swear, I am NOT making this up.
I'm chained to the tree
And I'll stay here forever
Til they don't cut it down
Cut it down
Wow. How profound. Joni Mitchell is weeping right now, I swear.
The gang all decide to grab their sleeping bags and stay overnight so they can be ready to launch their attacks on the warehouse crew. Archie, Jughead, and Eugene are sleeping near the trunk of the tree where Moose is chained, while the girls are sleeping upstairs.
You want to know what I'm wondering? Where's Reggie?
Oh well...I guess I can't worry about that right now because something big is happening. A mysterious stranger takes some metal cutters and snips the chains so that Moose is no longer chained to the tree. I'm telling you. Moose must either be an extremely sound sleeper or he took an entire bottle of sleeping pills because he is out like a light.
Our stranger also throws a jar of honey into the knothole of the tree where Amani's beehive is stashed, as well as puts holes in every single one of Eugene's nineteen water balloons.
It seems as though SOMEONE wants this tree to be knocked down. But who?
It seems as though SOMEONE wants this tree to be knocked down. But who?
As dawn breaks and the wrecking crew pull up, the Archies take their positions, ready to fight back with their snapping turtles and Eggs Erroneous.
But wait. Moose soon discovers that he's not chained to the tree anymore. And Eugene discovers that the bees are in no condition to sting anyone since they were fed enough honey to last them until 1990 at least. And Betty's discovery of the popped water balloons cinches it. There is a saboteur at work here.
But Moose is now more determined than ever to stop the bulldozers from knocking down the tree. He sings his protest song loudly at them. Archie soon joins in, and before you know it the whole gang is singing the song. I don't know whether to be moved or incredibly disturbed.
It looks like this public display of protest has attracted the attention of several prominent Riverdale citizens including the mayor of Riverdale who signed off on the warehouse project to bring more jobs to Riverdale. MS. Grundy is also there taking the side of her students, claiming that they have the right to protest. The mayor is not impressed by MS. Grundy's allegiance and starts to say something not so nice before he is interrupted by a news reporter so nosy that it makes the TMZ Crew look like absolute wallflowers in comparison. Luckily, this news reporter makes the mayor swallow what little pride he has left and agrees to let the tree live...for now.
But that's okay with MS. Grundy's class because now they have time to fight the good fight legally. And luckily, MS. Grundy has a lesson planned on fighting legal battles within the community! This seems a little contrived, but just go with it. And as MS. Grundy states, there are several ways to get your point across.
You could print flyers from a mimeograph machine - or, if you're living in 2015, a photocopier!
You can go to the library and do some research because back in 1987, the Internet was unavailable.
You can even get people to do up a petition to get people to support your cause, and is it just me or is this turning into an episode of Degrassi Junior High where Caitlin is standing up for some environmental cause while that bitch Kathleen tries to do everything to knock her down?
Naturally, Jughead tries to get the mayor to sign the petition and he proceeds to take the petition and crumples it into a ball - but when our lovely news reporter comes up to him and films him doing this deed, he uncrumples the petition and actually signs the petition to save the very tree that he wants to get rid of! Awesome!
Just what tools elected this mayor anyway?
Just what tools elected this mayor anyway?
I guess it's time to find out, as there's a town meeting in place, and everyone who is in attendance seems to be the personal close friends of the corrupt mayor, as they basically agree with everything he says.
But wait! MS. Grundy and her group of students come in and have their say at the meeting, saying that they have done their research and have come up with a number of reasons why the tree should be saved, and Betty smartly points out that hundreds of people signed the petition to save the tree - including the mayor. And that obviously frosts the mayor's britches as he looks downright embarrassed to be there.
Well, that is until the town blowhard (and yes, every town has at least one) stands up and complains loudly about the tree, and that's enough for the mayor to say screw the petition and that the treehouse is being knocked down the next day.
So that night, the gang arrives at the treehouse to pack up their belongings and say goodbye to their favourite spot once and for all with sadness in their eyes. Sure, they have Eugene and Amani at the library trying to find some glimmer of hope that the tree can be saved, but given that Amani has already used up her 45 seconds of airtime, it's not looking good.
Oh, wait! Eugene and Amani HAVE found something! They found an old article from the newspaper archives, and they feel that something about it must be important. But because someone cut out the pictures, they feel as though it's a lost cause. You know...you could just try READING THE TEXT. Just saying.
Now, watch! At the mere mention of the article, Reggie decides that he doesn't want to be there any longer and sneaks out of the treehouse. How peculiar.
It's time for round two of save the tree, and this time a large crowd has gathered around the area. Of course, the mayor is there and I wouldn't put it past him to knock the tree down while killing off Moose, Veronica, and Jughead in the process.
But wait! Here comes Reggie with the trump card. He has the full article that Eugene and Amani found. Turns out that the founder of the town, Horace T. Riverdale...
WAIT! That's NOT right! In any of the comic books, the founder of the town was General Pickins of whom Pickins Park was named after! Did these people even bother to READ the comic books? Oi!
Anyway, the founder of the town apparently used the tree that the kids built the treehouse on as a love letter to the very place he founded, and he apparently made the decision to settle here because of that tree. Long story short, the tree is declared a historical landmark and it cannot be cut down.
And there is much rejoicing amongst the kids as they celebrate the fact that their tree is here to stay...but then they all go to the courthouse and are given punishments for desecrating a historical landmark by building a treehouse on it. But, since there's only a minute and a half left in the episode, we don't see THAT part.
One mystery remains. Why did Reggie wait until now to show his ace in the hole? Well, turns out that Reggie knew all along that the warehouse was being built, and his father promised him a brand new bicycle if he kept his mouth shut. Okay, are ALL adults in Riverdale this corrupt?
Fortunately, Reggie realized after the party that the gang threw him last episode that he has friends who care, and he just couldn't live with himself if he let the one thing that kept them together get destroyed.
Of course, Betty and Veronica may want to destroy Reggie in the process, considering that he carved his initials in the tree professing his love for BOTH women.
But Reggie points out one final carving that the founder made, dedicating his love for the community. And we end our show, we get another chorus of "Chained To The Tree".
I don't know, guys and gals...this episode was exhausting to review. The bad song, the corrupt adults, Reggie being Reggie...it just goes to show that in thirty years, politics just doesn't seem to change that much. There's always going to be people in charge that you don't like, and who want to do everything to stick it to the little guy.
But as Archie and his friends proved, sometimes the little guy doesn't go quietly. Sometimes, they win.