REVIEW: "Riverdale" Season 3 / "Supergirl" Season 4


New couple Reggie and Veronica bring some intrigue to the insanity of  Riverdale

New couple Reggie and Veronica bring some intrigue to the insanity of Riverdale

As one of the most bonkers shows on TV, how would Riverdale top last year’s obsession with serial killers? Apparently, the answer was cults! Yes, lots and lots of cults take the place of the Red Hood saga (although that too makes a mini-resurgence in the final part of Season 3). Funnily enough, I do think this season was somewhat more entertaining than last year’s, but when there’s multiple episodes of people ranting and raving about (when not running from) the mysterious Gargoyle King (the leader of the cultish Dungeons & Dragons-esque game that all the Riverdale teens are obsessed with), along with an episode where Archie is literally beaten up by a bear (seriously), the sheer level of ludicrousness can’t help but be consistently watchable. I also think it helps that Archie and Veronica are broken up this year (the two are for more enjoyable when not together), and the halfhearted introduction to a Reggie/Veronica/Archie triangle seemed like it could have been interesting, but oddly, the show doesn’t seem to want to go full steam ahead with it. The other cult in the mix this season was “The Farm,” a bunch of Scientology inspired, organ-harvesting loons led by Chad Michael Murray, who recruited Betty’s mom Alice and sister Polly, along with several of the Riverdale teens like Kevin, Cheryl and Toni, as Betty tries over and over (it does get a little repetitive) to infiltrate the group and save her family. As a soap opera, Riverdale remains one of the nuttiest shows on TV, but leans into its mania to an inspired degree at times, with multiple musical moments, an episode where the teens played their own parents in flashback, and as always, murder. Lots of murder (Dilton Doylie joins dearly departed Midge this season as Archies characters that never got their chance to shine). But it never bores me, I’ll give it that. On a final note, the recent death of Luke Perry led to the departure of Fred Andrews, the sole voice of reason in the entire town, but the show hasn’t addressed his absence onscreen yet (the hole he left will seemingly be filled by Molly Ringwald as Archie’s mom Mary, in a more regular role). 

Grade: B


Supergirl  finally finds its footing in Season 4

Supergirl finally finds its footing in Season 4

Of the flagship superhero shows on the CW, I never would have thought Supergirl would be the only one I was still watching after all these years. But yes, this was the year that The Flash became so bad that I was forced to bail (very similar to what happened to me during Season 3 of Arrow), while surprisingly enough, this was finally the year that Supergirl came into its own. Season 4 started out strong and finished on the same note, as it was obvious right away it finally had a sure focus and a clearer vision that it’s ever possessed. From the start, it took the relevant theme of humans vs. aliens to its logical metaphorical conclusion, real world parallels intentional and unsubtle. Sam Witwer (an actor almost too good for this network) joined the cast as anti-alien extremist Ben Lockwood, who soon morphed into the dastardly Agent Liberty, leading the hate movement against all aliens, while the equally charismatic David Ajala (above) showed up as Manchester Black, a radical on the opposite side, leading an alien revolt against human agitators. Supergirl herself is caught in the middle, while sister Alex plays for the government and Martian Manhunter and Brainiac 5 (Brainy) play sidekick to Kara for the most part. Nicole Maines also joined the cast this year as Nia Nal/Dreamer, the first transgender superhero. As always, with 22 episodes to air, there’s a fair share of filler (Alex’s late breaking forced romance with James’s sister Kelly is already deathly boring and unbearable), but the ratio of good to bad episodes this season was well over .500. Jon Cryer introduces us to a very hammy Lex Luthor, whose masterplan to sic Kara’s evil Russian twin “Red Daughter” on the planet was pretty good, but the familial interactions with sister Lena provided the high points of his appearances (please let Lena go evil- Katie McGrath’s cold, intimidating presence is wasted as a good guy and she’d be a great villainess). I hope the show has finally found itself for good- disposing of any sort of love interest for Kara seems to have worked in its favor, but finding charismatic actors like Witwer and Ajala as antagonists could also be a one season fluke. Let’s hope it’s the former.

Grade: B+