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Friday, January 22, 2016

New Archies - A Final Recap

In 1987, DIC and Archie Comics decided to team up to create a brand new television show that depicted Archie and the gang as 12-year-olds dealing with the trials and tribulations that most junior high aged people go through.

What we ended up with was The New Archies, a cartoon series that had a bunch of 12-year-olds getting involved in plots that would NEVER happen, but because it's a cartoon series, we're supposed to accept it.

And over the last six months, I reviewed EVERY EPISODE.

This is the closing summary of the television series.  I'll post links to all thirteen episode reviews in this summary.  I'll do some brief character analysis on all the main characters of the show, post my favourite and not-so-favourite episodes, and share my thoughts on the show in general.

First things first, I'll post the links to all twenty-six half episodes that I have reviewed, just in case you missed one.

Now let's see how the characters were written in this show.  Was it true to the comics, or were they way off?

Archie Andrews probably has had some of the most bizarre storylines in the whole series.  In the show's run, he befriended an alien, shrunk to the size of a ladybug, made a super bouncy substance using chemicals and pepperoni pizza, met his royal doppelganger, and became a pre-teen werewolf!  It seems as though his character development was stunted a little bit by the writers who seemed to think that plot was more important.  It's not exactly the greatest way to treat the character whom the show is named after.

That being said, Archie does seem to be one of the more level-headed people in the series when he's not in outlandish plots.  His loyalty to Jughead as a best friend is definitely noticed, and he doesn't even really seem to show any wishy-washiness when it comes to Betty and Veronica - of course, Archie is only 12.  He'll turn into an indecisive jerk within five years.  For now, he's quite likeable.

Betty is woefully underused in this series.  She's only really had three stand alone episodes in the whole show - one she shared with Veronica, and the other she was a victim of Veronica and Reggie's scheming.  We had to wait until the final episode before we got an inkling of what Betty was really like, and the frustrating part is that she wanted to be someone else in that episode!  On the plus side though, this Betty at least seems to have a backbone (something sorely lacking in the comic books), and she is quite pleasant to people whenever she greets them.  I almost feel that because she's so much of a Mary Sue type character in this series that she sort of blends into the background - where I don't feel she belongs.

On the flipside, one character who I think received too much focus was Veronica.  Seriously, she had a couple of nice moments, but for the most part she was annoying.  From the Valley Girl accent that could gag you without a spoon to her...interesting fashion sense, Veronica thought she was queen of the school.  And honestly, she comes across as a spoiled rotten bubblehead of a brat who has no feelings for anybody. 

That said...she does have her moments of softness.  She did help Archie try to find his lost dog once.  And she did come through for Betty at the end of "Horray For Hollywood".  And, well...yeah.  That's it.

But if Veronica was bad, Reggie was just plain worse.  He is such a Snively Whiplash kind of character that I have a hard time taking him seriously.  He is a guy who seems to have hardly any redeeming qualities at all, and he is so smarmy that we almost feel obligated to cheer whenever his dastardly plans blow up in his face.  That said, even Reggie has his moments of kindness.  Though he was bribed by his father to keep quiet about a warehousing deal that would destroy the gang's treehouse, he came through in the end when he realized that friendship was more important than a bicycle.  And in a way, Reggie's personality was defined by that moment.  When you're raised by people who are greedy and cold, you tend to become that way yourself.  Here's hoping Archie and the gang would help keep Reggie on the straight and narrow.

Oh, Jughead, Jughead, Jughead.  You started the series off slowly.  You only said like 12 words in the first two episodes of the series and one of those words was Feltzig!  But by the end of the series, you had four stand alone episodes!  I think only Archie had more!  And I'll be honest with you, three of those four episodes were absolutely fantastic!  Much like the comic books, Jughead is a complex character.  You might think that all he does is eat, sleep, eat, sleep, and eat some more.  And, well...yeah.  He does that.  But he also learns valuable lessons about friendship and probably does the most growing during the whole show.  I know it's a cartoon and all, but I do think Jughead finished strong.

Another character who had a lot of episodes was the Chuck Clayton/Dilton Doiley hybrid character called Eugene.  And I have to say, while I think they should have just kept Dilton on the show, Eugene was a great addition to the cast.  Sure, all of his inventions have pretty much failed - his only success was in "Gunk For Gold", and Archie helped him in that one.  But Eugene is definitely an interesting character, and he probably was the best representation of a junior high student.  His anxiousness about impressing a girl he liked, his drive to succeed in school, and his trying to fit in with the rest of the school is something that all of us went through at age 12, and I think Eugene was very much a diamond in the rough.

I only wish that his girlfriend Amani received such deep character development.  She didn't even appear at all in the final episode, and in the episodes that she did appear in, she only appeared for a minute at the most.  In her one and only episode where she was featured, all we learned about her was that she liked Eugene, she loved ketchup and salt sandwiches, and she can't wear glasses without tripping over people.  Seriously, they could have just given her lines to Betty and written her off and nobody would have noticed.

Moose was also not given great character development either.  At times, he seemed like a 31-year-old instead of a 12-year-old.  And while I applaud the show for not making him seem like a complete idiot, there are moments in which I felt he was channeling Chrissy Snow from "Three's Company".  While I do think he deserved much better, I do like the fact that he did get some focus.

I don't have a lot of time to talk about the other minor characters in detail, but I will say this.  MS. Grundy is the teacher that all of us wanted to have, Mr. Weatherbee was a moron, Ethel was actually quite a decent character in the episodes she appeared in, and it was quite nice to see throwbacks to the Archie Comics by including characters like Pop Tate, Mr. Andrews, Smithers, Mr. Lodge, Fangs Fogarty, and Ms. Beazley make cameo appearances in the series.

So, which episodes did I like?  And which did I hate?  Here's my lists of both.


"Jughead Predicts" - I loved this episode!  Not because Jughead was the star, but because it was genuinely funny.  Jughead's predictions were hysterical because they all came true (but not in the way we were expecting), and Reggie's final comeuppance at the end where he dances the tango with MS. Grundy in a frog suit...I admit, I laughed at that one when I was a kid, and find it funny today.

"Hamburger Helpers" - This episode is the best one to show what true friendship really is.  When Jughead is suckered into giving up hamburgers for a week, Reggie and Veronica try to sabotage him at every opportunity, even locking him in Lodge Mansion with enough hamburgers to fill a McDonald's to get him to break.  But Jughead doesn't succumb to temptation - because when Reggie bet Archie his skateboard, Jughead refused to let anything bad happen to Archie.  Now that's true friendship.  Great lesson learned.

"Red To The Rescue" - Honestly, I think this one ranks as my favourite episode of the whole series.  I love mystery stories, and finding out who was responsible for upsetting a grouchy neighbour by knocking over trash cans didn't seem that spectacular.  But when Red, Archie's dog, was involved in a mystery of his own involving the neighbour's cat, it took Archie and the gang to try and solve both cases.  I could have done without all the Wizard of Oz references, but the end scene alone is so sweet. 

"Loose Lips Stop Slips" - This is probably my favourite episode starring Archie, and it's an episode about how Archie wants desperately to help people in his community but can't seem to figure out how to make it happen without causing trouble.  But when a statue raising ceremony nearly becomes a disaster, Archie uses his rope tying skills to save the day - and gain some badly needed self-confidence in the meantime.

"Horray For Hollywood" - This episode has a very strong message.  Be yourself and the right people will like you for who you are.  And I thought it was awesome that Betty was the star of the show because I don't think this plotline would have worked very well had another character been in the driver's seat.  Besides, it was kind of funny to see Betty as "Jasmine", and her snapping back at Veronica the same way Veronica talked down to her.  Poetic justice, in my opinion.


"Goodbye Ms. Grundy" - This episode just makes me mad.  Here's MS. Grundy and her class is making her have a nervous breakdown to the point where she is considering taking a job that would make her life a lot better.  And yet once Archie and the gang find out what is happening, they manipulate her into staying by being even more obnoxious than they were before.  It's very mean to MS. Grundy, and the whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth.

"I Was A 12-Year-Old Werewolf" - This episode was just stupid.  I understand that "Teen Wolf" had come out a couple of years before this episode was made, and I do see the pop culture reasoning behind it.  But this episode was not scary at all.  It was extremely boring. 

"The Prince Of Riverdale" - I HATED this episode when I was a kid, and hate it even more now as an adult.  The fact that Archie has an exact double is bad enough, but to have the double be a prince?  This is a story that has been done to the death before, and while some efforts were better than others, this one was the worst.  It's almost as believable as the fact that you can use coloured pencils to hide freckles.

"Jughead's Millions" - I said that three of the four episodes where Jughead was a star were great.  This is the only one that wasn't.  What started out as a simple class assignment quickly steered into an episode that was so unbelievable that it made the Dream Season of "Dallas" seem like it could really happen in comparison. 

"Take My Butler, Please" - The only thing this episode does is make us think that Smithers is a complete head case and I'm questioning why Veronica even bothered to try and get him back after he decides he wants to be Archie's butler instead.  I almost wanted to call him "Smothers" during this awful episode.

Now, what are my final thoughts?  All in all, it's an interesting piece within the Archie video library that sadly has not aged well.  From the heavy synthesizer music in the background to the totally rad slang that simply doesn't fly in our 21st century world, the cartoon is definitely a product of its time period.  And some of the episodes were too unbelievable, even by cartoon standards.  I mean, it's hard to fathom that all of these events took place during one school year!

On the flipside, some of the morals and lessons presented in this show are still relevant today.  It's important to be yourself.  It's important to value true friendship.  It's important to be honest and to be fair and square.  These are all wonderful things that we can teach to children, and also to take into our own lives. 

To summarize - The New Archies is a show that may be outdated, but still relevant.

That's a wrap!  Let me know if you want me to review another series!

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