Riverdale (Thursday, Jan. 26, The CW), series debut: It’s exactly what you think it is—Archie Comics given a dark ’n’ broody CW-teens makeover, like Twin Peaks meets Gossip Girl. Riverdale is also far better than most are going to be willing to give it credit for: It’s sharply written (though the first ep is exposition-heavy, because kids today) and winkingly self-aware murder noir dressed up in muted-classic Archie couture that firmly states, “Yeah, we’re actually doing this—and we’re going hard.” The gang’s all here, including a ripped-but-sensitive Archie (K.J. Apa), a mysterious Jughead (Cole Sprouse), a jittery Betty (Lili Reinhart), a seductive Veronica (Camila Mendes) and an ambitious Pussycats-fronting Josie (Ashleigh Murray), and they all arrive as surprisingly fleshed-out characters. Riverdale will be the first TV obsession of 2017—count on it.
iBoy (Friday, Jan. 27, Netflix), movie: Because AndroidBoy didn’t quite have the same ring to it, here’s iBoy: British teen Tom (Bill Milner) gets a Limitless-ish upgrade when an intended kill-shot from a gangster explodes his iPhone into his brain, essentially turning him into a human Internet hotspot. Instead of using his new powers to dominate trivia night at the local pub, Tom becomes a Kick-Ass-style vigilante bent on taking down the baddies who shot him and assaulted his friend, Lucy (Maisie Williams). Whereas Black Mirror would have twisted this into a bummer treatise on connected tech, iBoy cranks the tension and action to 11, never pausing to consider the deadly ramifications of future OS updates. It’s dumb fun; just go with it.
To Tell the Truth (Sundays, ABC), new season: Yes, ABC has had a rough season, launching only one semi-hit (Designated Survivor, aka Not the Mike Pence Story as Far as We Dare Hope) while canceling a pair of dogs (Conviction and Notorious—’member those?). But are schedule-fillers like Match Game and To Tell the Truth really the answer? Revivals of decades-dead game shows that were pure cheese even in their day? If so, I demand a reboot of the greatest game show of all time, 1974-1975 landmark The Money Maze, wherein couples would race like rats through a shoddily constructed maze to push a cash-prize button at the end. Throw in celebrity couples (Kanye and Kim! Barack and Joe!) and a new host (Mitt Romney!), and make this happen, ABC!
The Bachelor (Mondays, ABC), new season: As with the previous, what? 48? seasons of The Bachelor, this column chose to ignore the Hot Tub STD Machine’s latest premiere. BUT! Along came Corrine, the most glorious trainwreck ever to (dis)grace the mansion. A blonde time-bomb of sex, audacity, insecurity and sheer crazy who makes for great TV, Corrine stands out in this season’s bland, interchangeable pack of women by seemingly channeling Haley, the oft-naked suitress of the classic Bachelor parody Burning Love (Hulu it). Bachelor Nick, a master of understatement if not styling gel, simply calls her “fun,” despite their every meeting being like an all-expenses-paid excursion to a strip club VIP room. Sure, The Bachelor is still a terrible, terrible, terrible show with zero societal value … but, as performance art, I’m currently all in for #MCGA (Make Corrine Great Again).
The 100 (Wednesday, Feb. 1, The CW), season premiere: The 100, now entering its fourth (!) season, is a future-set sci-fi series about 100 pretty juvenile space delinquents exiled to Earth, since rendered “uninhabitable” by a nuclear apocalypse (likely triggered by a 3 a.m. tweet), to survive and figure who to hook up with before one or the other gets killed (which happens often; they’re currently The 44). After three seasons of fighting off Grounders (meanies left behind on the planet back in the day), Mountain Men (ditto), a mind-controlling artificial intelligence (huh?) and split ends (everybody’s hair still looks fantastic), now the kids have to deal with residual planetary radiation. (There goes the hair.) As dystopian soap operas go, The 100 is smarter and more complex than most—check it out before it’s too late.