The big news in entertainment this week (well, maybe not big news) was the recasting of the role of Reggie Mantle on the TV series Riverdale.
When I heard the news, my reaction was — “Reggie Mantle was on Riverdale?”
I watched the first 4 episodes of the show and spotted Reggie, briefly, maybe twice. So I stopped watching.
For you see, before Hawkeye — before even Batman — there was Reggie.
As a kid I loved The Archies. My first lunchbox was an Archies lunchbox. I watched the cartoon every Saturday morning. I had one of their records. (Although to be honest, I hate “Sugar, Sugar ” — a song so bad The Monkees refused to record it.)
But it wasn’t because I loved Archie. Lord, no. He was far too goody-two-shoes. And what was the deal with those hashmarks on the sides of his face? And why did Betty and Veronica find him so attractive?
Reggie was so much cooler. And sarcastic. And frankly more handsome. Reggie was the bad boy, and given that Riverdale was 99 percent all-whitebread and all-good (true, Veronica had her moments), that made Reggie all the more unique and entertaining.
The best thing about the Reggie-Archie relationship was the fact that while they were rivals and often at odds, they were also friends. They would team up on things about as often as they would fight. They were even in the same band, for Pete’s sake.
But then I grew up and discovered superheroes and left The Archies behind. I keep up with what’s going on with the characters in the comics press and I pick up the Archie offering every year at Free Comic Book Day, but that’s the extent of my relationship with the gang these days.
So when I heard the CW was going to be airing a show called Riverdale I figured I would check it out for nostalgia’s sake. Alas, it was too millennial for my tastes. Jughead is some kind of lost soul, writer-type? Betty seems a little bit crazy? Archie is having sex with Miss Grundy? The only character who seemed normal was Veronica, and what are the odds of that?
Worst of all — no Reggie. It appeared he had been replaced in the Big 5 by Kevin Keller. I can’t say I’m surprised, this show is about as PC as it can get. Reggie did show up eventually and I think there was a scene where he punched Archie, but I blinked and missed it. When Cheryl Blossom is a more important character to the Archie mythos than Reggie Mantle, you know there’s something fundamentally wrong with what you’re doing.
It turned out that maybe the reason Reggie was getting such short shrift on the show was that the actor playing him was busy with other things and not always available. Maybe now that there’s a new actor in the role that will change. But then given how twisted all the characters have become on this show, that may not be a good thing.
My sister is still watching, so if she reports an uptick in Reggie activity next season maybe I’ll give it another chance.