April 11, 2015

THE NEW ARCHIES

THE NEW ARCHIES
(NBC, September 12-December 5, 1987)


DiC Entertainment, Saban Entertainment




For the history of Archie, check out the post here.


Archie Comics ad for the show, featuring Miss Grundy, Mr. Weatherbee, Amani, Reggie,
Veronica, Archie, Moose, Jughead, Eugene, Betty, Hot Dog and Red.


            After being a constant presence on Saturday mornings throughout most of the 70s, Archie Comics’ flagship franchise took almost a decade-long break before returning to the airwaves. With the current trend of babyfication (the reduction of the ages of established characters) thanks to the runaway success of Muppet Babies, the latest Archie show sought to follow suit by reducing its principle characters from high school aged down to junior high resulting in the creation of The New Archies co-produced by DiC Entertainment and Saban Entertainment. This wasn’t the first time the Archie crew was de-aged, though. In 1956, Archie began publishing a series of comics called Little Archie, in which the characters were all elementary school aged (and yet somehow still had the same teachers).


Reggie, disguised as Veronica, with bully Fangs.

            The New Archies was a product of its time, being firmly ingrained in the 80s in the character designs by Jim Simon and Gary Payn. Archie (J. Michael Roncetti) sported a mullet, the clothing was loud and colorful (Jughead, voiced by Michael Fantini, wore a pink beanie, of all things), and their favorite hangout was updated from the Chock’lit Shop to a Video CafĂ© where they could eat and play arcade games. Veronica (Alyson Court) even spoke with a Valley Girl accent, which was a departure from the southern accent all of her other animated and radio counterparts featured. Little Archie resident bully Fangs Fogarty even appeared on the series, marking his animated debut. Also carried over from Little Archie was the fact Archie had a dog, however his name was Red rather than Spotty as it was in the comics.


Eugene and Amani learning they like each other as they are.

Two new characters were created specifically for the show: Eugene (Colin Waterman) and Amani (Karen Burthwright), both Black characters designed to add diversity to the show’s cast. Eugene was essentially a race-swapped version of the comics’ resident genius Dilton Doiley, effectively condensing his character with that of Chuck Clayton (sans his artistic talents). Amani was just Chuck’s girlfriend Nancy Woods from the comics with a new name, for inexplicable reasons. Both Eugene and Amani even became a couple during the show like Chuck and Nancy.


Comic book ad for NBC's 1987 Saturday morning.

The New Archies debuted on NBC on September 12, 1987, after having been showcased the night before on the preview special Alf Loves a Mystery. It was written by Pat Allee, Scott Anderson, Eleanor Burian-Mohr, Jon Cohen, Herb Englehardt, Gary Greenfield, Jack Hanrahan, Ben Hurst, Dennis O’Flaherty and Kimmer Ringwald, who also served as story editor and developed the show. Each episode was broken up into two story segments. Along with producing, Haim Saban composed the music with Shuki Levy and it was animated by Toei Animation. The stories played out relatively close to how they would in the comics, featuring slice of life adventures around Riverdale. When not dealing with the ordinary, they would be drawn into the world of the fantastic through Eugene’s inventions or encounters with strange beings, like aliens. And, of course, a healthy dose of imagination and daydreams.


The New Archies #1.

Unfortunately, The New Archies lacked the staying power of the earlier animated efforts and only lasted a single season of 13 episodes. The series did gain an extended life by airing reruns from 1988-95 on Canada’s YTV, on The Family Channel’s Saturday mornings from 1991-93, and on Toon Disney from 1998-2002. Archie published a comic set in the world of the show between 1987 and 1990. It ran for 22 issues. In 1988, Archie began a secondary digest title that only lasted 14 issues, ending in 1991. Although these character designs were retired with the end of the show and the comics, the various stories have been reprinted later on in various Archie digest collections, digitally in Pep Digital #54 in 2013, and in a collected edition published in 2020. Three VHS collections with an episode each were released by Golden Book Video. While no plans to release the series to DVD have yet been announced, DHX Media, the current rights holders to the DiC library, had the first five episodes released on one of their YouTube channels before their changeover to WildBrain. The series was also made available to stream on Amazon Prime Video with a CBS All Access account.



EPISODE GUIDE:
“The Visitor / Ballot Box Blues” (9/12/87) – Eugene accidentally shoots down a UFO and the gang tries to help him get home. / Betty and Veronica both run for class president with Archie and Reggie as their campaign managers.

“The Last Laugh / Thief! (of Hearts)” (9/19/87) – When Reggie’s pranks get him in trouble with Fangs, he has to set Fangs up with Veronica for the dance. / Clues lead the gang to believe Mr. Weatherbee is a local jewel thief.

“I Got to Be me, Or Is It You? / Sir Jughead Jones” (9/26/87) – Amani and Eugene have crushes on each other and the gang helps change them to attract the other. / When Jughead is due to inherit a fortune, Reggie and Veronica give him lessons in snobbery.

“The Awful Truth / Jughead Predicts” (10/3/87) – Eugene’s truth-telling machine works a bit too well. / A clunk on the head enables Jughead to tell the future, which causes trouble for Reggie.

“Future Shock / Stealing the Show” (10/10/87) – After learning that the picnic queen and king usually end up married, Archie imagines what his future would hold if he won. / When Betty is cast as the lead in the school play, Veronica makes plans to take the role for herself.

“Hamburger Helpers / Goodbye Ms. Grundy” (10/17/87) – Jughead bets Veronica he could give up burgers for a week in exchange for her buying all he can eat for a day. / Archie overhears Ms. Grundy is considering going to another school and her students try to change her mind.

Red to the Rescue / Jughead the Jinx” (10/24/87) – A neighbor is determined to get Red taken away for a series of disturbances, but first they have to find him and her cat. / Jughead believes himself a jinx after smashing a mirror, and Reggie is determined to make that true.

“Telegraph, Telephone, Tell Reggie / Wooden it Be Loverly” (10/31/87) – Reggie plans to spoil the gang’s party until he learns the party is for him. / The gang rallies to save their tree house from Reggie’s uncle’s development, but their efforts are sabotaged from the inside.

“I Was A 12 Year Old Werewolf / The Prince of Riverdale” (11/7/87) – Archie accidentally gets some chemicals spilled on him that turns him into a wolf-boy. / Archie changes places with a prince who looks like him.

“Loose Lips Stops Slips / A Change of Minds” (11/14/87) – The kids all try to do a good deed sufficient enough to win a miniature statue of the town’s founder. / Eugene’s latest invention causes him and Moose to swap minds.

“Incredible Shrinking Archie / Gunk for Gold” (11/21/87) – While trying to make perfume for Veronica, Archie instead creates a formula that shrinks him and Jughead. / Archie accidentally causes Eugene’s formula to become a substance that will help the school win at soccer.

“Jughead’s Millions / Making of Mr. Righteous” (11/28/87) – Jughead invests in a stock for a school project and it ends up taking off. / Moose accidentally activates an untested robot duplicate of Eugene and brings him to school, believing it to be the real Eugene.


“Take My Butler, Please / Hooray for Hollywood” (12/5/87) – Smithers becomes Archie’s butler after Archie saves him from a runaway piano. / Tired of how everyone perceives her, Betty decides to get a Hollywood makeover and a new personality.


Originally posted in 2015. Updated in 2020.

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