Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nostalgia Theater: Come On Lets Go, It's The Archie Show!

The CW's Riverdale is currently on the air and reinventing the classic Archie cast of characters for a new audience. And while I've yet to catch an episode of the primetime soap, it's definitely been dominating buzz on social media, which in turn got me thinking about the first time America's favorite teenager and his colorful cast of hangers-on first hit the tube, way back in 1968 via a Filmation animated show that aired on CBS. Here's the intro for The Archie Show:

(This show was the first appearance of fictional music group The Archies, who enjoyed some success thanks to the smash hit "Sugar, Sugar.")

Despite the fact that Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, etc. debuted in comics in 1941, it would be more than a quarter century before they transitioned from the comic book page onto the small screen (though he did have a popular radio show from shortly after his debut through the early '50s). The format of the show was pretty rote: One longer segment, one gag segment, one long segment, but all the regulars were there, including Archie's love interests Betty & Veronica, and rival Reggie Mantle.

Here's an episode:

I had been reading Archie comics for awhile in the '80s before I finally saw episodes of these shows, and the biggest WTF for me was the voices, none of which sounded like the ones I "heard" for all the years I'd been reading the books. Archie was too high-pitched, Veronica was too Southern, everything was just "off." I was in the minority with those concerns, however, because while there were only seventeen half hours of The Archie Show (which started September of '68), that was the leading edge of a decade-long Filmation/Archie onslaught that included...

Archie's Funhouse in 1970:

Sixteen episodes of Archie's TV Funnies in 1971, pairing the Archie characters with various other syndicated newspaper mainstays like Broom Hilda and Dick Tracy:

1974's The U.S. of Archie, with the Riverdale gang reenacting various events from American history:

And lastly, The New Archie and Sabrina Hour, this one aired on NBC instead of CBS, but it nonetheless put a bow on ten years of Archie animation for Filmation by the time it closed up shop in 1978:

The Archie gang would return to animation a few years later in 1987 with NBC's Saturday morning show The New Archies (this time animated by noted crap factory DiC), and they also had a live action TV movie called To Riverdale...And Back Again which I previously discussed at-length here. There would also be further animated shows in later decades, but I think it's safe to say that they never again had the reach on television that they did during that 1968-1978 span when, no matter when you turned on the TV, everything really was Archie.

Two Year Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Sledge Hammer! -- Dirty Harry Ad Absurdum

Three Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Getting in the Crib With Muppet Babies

Four Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: The First G.I. Joe Movie

Five Years Ago in Nostalgia Theater: Highlander: The Animated Series -- Yep, This Exists

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