Comic book movies and television series are all the rage right now, most of which are focused around superhero properties, but one of the most iconic and familiar comic series is easily Archie Comics. Whether he is teaming up in zany crossovers with characters like the Punisher and Predator or just living his high school life trying to pick between Betty and Veronica, most people have been introduced to some level of Archie in their lifetime. Taking a more modern approach, which has also been seen in the more recent Mark Waid comic series, Riverdale premiered on The CW this past January to strong critical acclaim and now Riverdale: The Complete First Season has arrived on DVD.
Riverdale’s first season consists of 13 episodes of around 42 minutes length each. The main plot of the series takes place at Riverdale High School, where the town of Riverdale has been rocked by the death of one of the town’s most prominent teenagers in Jason Blossom.
The series features Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) as the main leads who find themselves surrounded in this mystery. A lot of the young cast were relative unknowns to most coming into the series, especially scene stealer Camila Mendes, who has no other acting credits prior to Riverdale.
Each of the young actors very quickly show off how talented they are, even if Archie’s early season plot where he is hooking up with his teacher is not really the best. The interactions and chemistry between not only these four, but other side characters like Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and parents Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick), and Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols) allow them to play very well off of one another. The Betty and Veronica friendship is particularly a standout, as well as the relationship between the kids and their respective parents.
Without going into spoilers, the relationships in this series are mostly handled well, especially as the season progresses. The overarching mystery of the season surrounding Jason Blossom’s murder is also paced very well throughout the season and has a really great payoff that has room to breathe by not dragging into season two.
There is no question that Riverdale is a teenage drama, but there is a lot more to it than many people may think just because it’s on The CW. The story does take a little bit to get going, but the very likeable cast and the ongoing mystery will keep you hooked throughout the 13 episode first season.
Unlike some of the other comic-based CW series, it was decided to only release the DVD version of Riverdale in stores, while a Blu-ray release is exclusive to Warner Archive. For review, we received the DVD version, so the video definitely isn’t the best quality available. Being limited in resolution does hold back Riverdale a bit, which often has stunning visuals thanks to great direction. For a DVD however, the video quality looks more than fine. The finale is still one of the standout episodes in this department while out in the snow, and while the clarity isn’t as high as it would be on Blu-ray it still looks good on this DVD set regardless.
The first season set for Riverdale is pretty limited in audio options, though that isn’t something you really need from a show like this. There are two audio options with English and Portuguese, with English being in Dolby Digital 5.1 for those with a surround sound system. The Blake Neely score sounds as great here as it did in the original television broadcasts, as do the musical performances in the show. For a DVD set release, you really can’t ask for much more out of the audio for the show.
Riverdale: The Complete First Season comes with a few different special features spread across the three disc set. The one glaring omission from the set for some is the lack of any commentary, but there is still a good bit included. First of all, the set offers deleted scenes for the majority of the episodes, though most of these are pretty ancillary and weren’t missed. The finale, however, has a few major scenes that were cut, so it will be interesting to see if they decided to alter those plots and that is why, or they wanted to hold back on them for now.
Like pretty much every TV set, Riverdale’s first season collection has a gag reel. It’s not the longest gag reel at just under five minutes, but it is quite enjoyable. You can really tell this cast has a lot of jokesters and the chemistry between them is really great here.
The season set also includes a few featurettes, including two made exclusively for the set. The just over eight minute long 2016 Comic-Con Panel is included for those that want to hear what the cast and crew had to say about the show prior to its initial airing.
Coming on the first disc of the set is the featurette titled Riverdale: The New Normal, which discusses how the world of Archie Comics have evolved over the years. This one includes series creator and executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, as well as supervising editor Yolanda Lawrence, who both discuss the darker tone of the series compared to most previous Archie iterations, including some inspirations and filming styles utilized in the series.
The other of the new featurettes is titled Riverdale: The Ultimate Sin, which includes Aguirre-Sacasa again, as well as writer and supervisor producer Michael Grassi discussing the way the show came to be and then going into details of the season itself. They discuss things like how they introduced the idea of a dead Jason Blossom and such into the plot, as well as a number of spoiler territory level details about the season, so this is definitely not one to be watched until you watch the full season. The good news is that this is on the third disc, so it makes it easy for you to watch after finishing up.
The last piece of special features found on the disc are two music performances, the first song is “I Got You” between Archie and Valerie, with the second being Archie’s performance with Josie and the Pussycats of “These Moments I Remember.” It is a little disappointing we didn’t get some of the other musical performances from the season included like this, such as Archie and Veronica’s “Kids In America” performance.
Riverdale: The Complete First Season DVD is a very quality package between its episode content that features a well crafted murder mystery and pretty solid special features. With the main retail release being DVD rather than Blu-ray, the video and audio quality does take a hit, but that isn’t anywhere near enough to take away from one of the best new shows of this past television season in Riverdale.
8.0 Sticky Maples Out Of 10
- Chapter One: “The River’s Edge”
- Chapter Two: “A Touch of Evil”
- Chapter Three: “Body Double”
- Chapter Four: “The Last Picture Show”
- Chapter Five: “Heart of Darkness”
- Chapter Six: “Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!”
- Chapter Seven: “In a Lonely Place”
- Chapter Eight: “The Outsiders”
- Chapter Nine: “La Grande Illusion”
- Chapter Ten: “The Lost Weekend”
- Chapter Eleven: “To Riverdale and Back Again”
- Chapter Twelve: “Anatomy of a Murder”
- Chapter Thirteen: “The Sweet Hereafter”
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Runtime: 572 Minutes (Episode time); 46 Minutes (Extra Content)
Reviewed Format: DVD
Discs: 3 DVDs
Aspect ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video: Codec: MPEG-2
Audio: English (5.1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Cast: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Ashleigh Murray, Marisol Nichols, Mädchen Amick, and Luke Perry.
Producers: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schecter, and Jon Goldwater.
Disclosure: Riverdale: The Complete First Season Was Provided By Warner Bros. Home Entertainment For Coverage Purposes