The adventures of red headed Archie Andrews, and his pals from Riverdale, known as The Archies, had been the subject of various comic books since the 1940's. Created by Bob Montana, these teenagers, who were mostly squeaky clean examples of all-American wholesomeness, were entertaining, because they were such an unreal and idealistic, portrayal of American teens.
The Archies are Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Betty Cooper, Veronica (Roni) Lodge, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead's dog Hot Dog. Filmation, saw great potential in the characters for television, who besides engaging in fun adventures, would also be in a band, and produce original music. The Archie Show (1968), would be the first of several animated series, to feature The Archies. On the show, the group engage in innocent teenage fun, and play a sugary sweet brand of bubble gum music. Producer Lou Scheimer brought Don Kirshner onboard as musical supervisor, to help secure and produce the music. Kirshner had performed a similar function for The Monkees, finding and utilizing the budding songwriting talents of writers like Carole King and Neil Diamond. Kirshner tapped singer Ron Dante to be the voice of The Archies.
The format of The Archie Show included two short adventures that opened and closed the show. In between was the groovy "Archies' Dance of the Week", usually a very goofy, and outrageously ridiculous dance step, followed by a song performed by the group. Sugar Sugar, The Archies' Number 1 smash hit from 1969, is not featured in this set.
With tons of material to draw from, The Archies cartoons featured the gang in a variety of situations. Some adventures involved classic themes related to school, sports, camping, surfing, or playing golf. Others were topical to the times, such as when the gang was trapped in Jughead's homemade spaceship. An adventure which took place in an unoccupied residence, that turned into a haunted house type spoof, is reminiscent of Scooby Doo, which would premiere the following year in 1969.
Through it all, except for Reggie's occasional mean spiritedness, the teens remained glittering examples of well behaved youth. The show is pretty well-written, with very few attempts at cheap humor. While other characters like Pop Tate, Mr. Weatherby, Miss Grundy, Dilton Doiley, and Mr. Lodge, make appearances, the focus is tightly on the core group of six. While very close, in the romance department, little more than a little hand holding occurs.
While The Archies are in a band, playing music is not made part of the stories. So unlike The Monkees, or Scooby Doo, there are no musical interludes, featuring crazy escapades. And the Archies don't hit the road to perform like The Partridge Family. Things are kept very simple and uncomplicated, and the animation work showing the characters singing and dancing is nicely done, and constantly reused.
The seventeen episodes on the two disc set look and sound great. Produced in an era when some were protesting the Viet Nam conflict, and superhero cartoons were popular, co-producer Lou Scheimer provides a look back at the show in a 25 minute bonus featurette. Fans of the comics will love this sweet and goofy show. Nostalgia bluffs many also appreciate the idealistic world of The Archies, though some may find the goodie goodie Archie universe a bit too sweet to swallow.
The characters proved to be very popular on television. While The Archie Show lasted one season, it would be succeeded by several other series during the 1970's that featured the characters, including Archie's Funhouse (1970) and Archie's TV Funnies (1971). Other characters from Archie comics that also became animated series, included Josie and the Pussycats (1970) and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.