April 18, 2020

THE ARCHIE SHOW


THE ARCHIE SHOW
(CBS, September 14, 1968-January 4, 1969)

Filmation Associates




MAIN CAST:
Dallas McKennonArchie Andrews, Hot Dog, Mr. Weatherbee, Pop Tate, Hiram Lodge, Coach Kleats, various
Ron Dante – Archie Andrews (singing)
Jane WebbBetty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Miss Grundy, Big Ethel, various
Toni Wine – Betty Cooper (singing), Veronica Lodge (singing)


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


            After spending two years working on action-oriented shows for DC Comics, and with growing concerns over violence in children’s shows, Filmation was about ready to switch gears and tackle another genre. Fortunately, their agent, Irv Wilson, had just the thing for them. Wilson had approached Archie Comics publisher John Goldwater about licensing out his comics for adaptation to other media. Upon receiving the license, Wilson presented the concept to producer Lou Scheimer, who had never heard of Archie or was aware of their popularity with the younger readers. However, he realized that doing a show about teenagers doing teenaged things could potentially attract a slightly older audience than their other offerings had. After meeting with Goldwater and securing a deal, Scheimer presented the idea to Fred Silverman, the head of daytime programming at CBS. Reportedly, the entire series pitch consisted of a stack of Archie comics that got Silverman to laugh; something he rarely did at pitch meetings. Silverman bought the show and The Archie Show was greenlit.

Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead hanging out at the Chok'lit Shoppe.



            Much like the comics, The Archie Show was going to focus on Archie Andrews (Dallas McKennon) and his core group of friends: Jughead (Howard Morris), Reggie (John Erwin), Betty and Veronica (both Jane Webb). They would go on dates, participate in races, work various jobs for money, and hang out at Pop’s Chok'lit Shoppe. Although Riverdale High was sparsely populated due to animation limitations (which prevented Archie from having his iconic hair markings), other Archie characters did make appearances as the story dictated: including principal Mr. Weatherbee, restaurateur Pop Tate, Veronica’s wealthy father (all McKennon), school genius Dilton Doiley (Morris) and others. Newly created for the show was Hot Dog (McKennon), Jughead’s dog who would “speak” to the audience and offer commentary about the characters and the situations (because of the different production times, Hot Dog actually appeared first in comic form in Pep Comics #224, originally as Archie’s dog).



Initially, Filmation intended to duplicate the success they found with The New Adventures of Superman by hiring the cast from the radio show, Archie Andrews. They even had one of the cast members, Bob Hastings, on staff already as the voice of their Superboy. But they never used Hastings and were unable to find the rest of the cast, so they turned to the then-49-year-old McKennon to voice “America’s teenager”, Filmation regular Webb to do as many of the female roles as legally allowed, Hanna-Barbera regular Morris, and Filmation newcomer Erwin. Notably, the Lodges were portrayed as having a southern accent. This was likely due to the radio show’s Gloria Mann use of one when voicing Veronica as in the comics she was said to have hailed from either Boston or New York City (or a lifelong resident of Riverdale—continuity was never steadfast in the world of Archie).

The Archies with Hot Dog conducting.

            While The Archie Show was already shaping up into something unique on Saturday mornings, Filmation wanted to take it a step further: they decided to bring music into it by making the Archie characters have a band that would play during the show called The Archies. Archie would play rhythm guitar and sing lead, Reggie would play bass, Betty played lead guitar or percussion (usually a tambourine), Veronica would play the keyboard, and Jughead played the drums. Jughead was also the only one who wasn’t a regular vocalist. The notion of Archie having a band was presented in Life With Archie #60 (1967), but was a one-time thing at that point.

The Archies meet Don Kirshner in Archie #189.

The idea was partially inspired by The Monkees, so Filmation approached music producer Don Kirschner about handling the music for their show. Kirschner, who had been responsible for some of The Monkees’ early hits, was ousted by the band as they wanted more creative control over what they recorded and performed, as well as for releasing the single “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” without Columbia Pictures’ consent. He saw The Archie Show as a chance to prove that he didn’t need The Monkees or Columbia. As the songs wouldn’t be directly related to the content of the show or utilize the same voices, both were allowed to be produced independently and simultaneously. Filmation would just give Kirschner a general idea of the stories they were doing.

The first single from The Archies.

            Kirschner assembled a set of studio musicians including Gary Chester on drums, Dave Appell on guitars, Joey Macho on bass, and Ron Frangipane on keyboards. Ron Dante provided Archie’s vocals, and sometimes Reggie’s, and Toni Wine did Betty and Veronica’s. Jeff Barry, Ritchie Adams and Mark Barkan served as the song writers, with Barry also being the producer and providing vocals for Jughead occasionally. 17 songs were recorded for inclusion on the show, with 11 of them (not counting the show’s theme, “Everything’s Archie”) being released on the first album, The Archies, from Kirschner’s Calendar Records, plus 17 shorter tunes for the dance sequences. Two singles were also released: “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” with “Truck Driver”, and “Feelin’ So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.-D.O.O.)” with “Love Light”.

Reggie joins in for a jam session in Archie's jalopy.

            The Archie Show debuted on CBS on September 14, 1968. Although the series relied heavily on what was established in the comics, they didn’t use the comics’ writers as they had with Superman. The series was written by Bob Ogle, and featured additional music by Ray Ellis. Each episode started and ended with a standard 8-minute Archie story with the gang going about their everyday lives and dealing with trouble frequently caused by mischief-maker, Reggie. Each story would be given an introduction by one of the characters; usually Archie. In between, there would be a short “dance of the week” segment where a character—usually Jughead—would teach it to the audience (although, a number of them were impossible unless you were an animated character). Viewers were then encouraged to use their new dance move for the next segment, which was The Archies playing one of their songs in a music video-like format. With Filmation’s penchant for stock footage, most of the band’s movements were constantly reused. There was also one more brief segment where Jughead and Hot Dog would get involved in some kind of hijinks (only one episode skipped this segment). It became notable as the first Saturday morning cartoon to use a laugh track, which was added to make the audience feel involved as part of the show.

The Archies head to Filmation in Everything's Archie #1.

            Nobody was more surprised by the success of The Archie Show than Filmation themselves. The series landed an impressive 47% ratings share, which is equal to modern Super Bowl ratings. The album was also performing extremely well on the sales charts. The first single had sold over 500,000 copies by the end of November, and it reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Also, on November 17th The Ed Sullivan Show played “The Bubblegum” and “Bang-Shang-A-Lang” from the first episode. “Seventeen Ain’t Young” became a top 40 hit in Australia when it was covered by Frankie Howson. To capitalize on this success, Archie Comics brought The Archies back in the comics and had Mr. Lodge introduce them to Kirschner in Archie #189 (1969). They also began a new title centered on the band, Everything’s Archie (named after the theme song). The first issue even had the Archie gang visit the Filmation studios.

Jughead overdid it on the celebratory sodas.

            The Archie Show became only the first entry in a decade-long partnership between Filmation and Archie Comics. CBS wanted more Archie, and Filmation was happy to give it to them. To keep the show fresh and interesting, Filmation constantly reinvented it for each new television season instead of just keeping it going as it was; making use of the malleability of the characters to put them in as many different situations as possible. It also kicked off a musical revolution on Saturday mornings, as not only Filmation but every studio at the time would try make their own musically-centered programs to try and duplicate The Archie Show’s success.

Ad for the complete series DVD.

At least one VHS of The Archie Show was released by Thorn EMI Video. In 2004, Nostalgia Ventures released three episodes to VHS and DVD as part of their Archie & Friends line, with an additional episode from the later incarnation U.S. of Archie. The complete series would be released to DVD by Classic Media in 2007. The YouTube channel DreamWorks TV by Peacock Kids posted numerous clips from the show beginning in 2014.  In 2018, Universal Studios Home Entertainment released a new 10-episode compilation DVD.



EPISODE GUIDE:
“The Added Distraction / Fetch / Disappearing Act” (9/14/68) – Reggie causes trouble when the gang goes out to sea for a treasure hunt. / Jughead teaches Hot Dog how to fetch and ends up all wet. / Jughead manages to invent invisible paint and Reggie steals it to make his competition for the talent show literally vanish.
Dance: The Bubblegum

“A Hard Day’s Knight / Shadow Boxing / Beauty is Only Fur Deep” (9/21/68) – Reggie challenges Archie to a joust for the hand of Veronica. / Jughead ends up KO’d while shadow boxing. / Jughead decides to enter Hot Dog into the dog show to show up Reggie’s dog.
Dance: The Jughead

“Anchors Away / Double Duty / Jughead’s Double” (9/28/68) – Without his glasses, Mr. Weatherbee thinks Hot Dog is a commodore who missed his ship and unknowingly enlists the boys to help get him there. / Hot Dog helps Jughead water ski while he waters the yard. / Reggie unknowingly picks on a Jughead duplicate who happens to be a karate champ.
Dance: The Beanie

“The Circus / Painting / The Prize Winner” (10/5/68) – Reggie convinces the guys to join the circus. / Jughead paints Hot Dog’s portrait. / Reggie tries to get rid of Jughead by making him think he won an airplane he’ll spend all his time fixing up.
Dance: The Hamburger Hop

“Flying Saucers / Homework / Field Trip” (10/12/68) – The gang goes to a costume party as a group of aliens and Reggie alerts the authorities for a gag. / Hot Dog unwittingly helps Jughead with his homework. / Reggie causes mischief on the school field trip to the mountain.
Dance: The Stick Shift

“The Marathon Runner / Pole Vaulting / Way Out West” (10/19/68) – It looks like Reggie is a cinch to win the marathon, unless his ego wins out instead. / Jughead breaks a few records while pole vaulting. / While the gang helps out at Mr. Lodge’s new dude ranch, Reggie disguises himself as a guest to get out of doing any work.
Dance: The Veronica Walk

“Hot Rod Drag / Research / Snow Business” (10/26/68) – The gang helps Archie get his car ready for the big drag race. / Jughead learns that the world is flat. / The gang goes to work at Mr. Lodge’s ski lodge and Reggie plots trouble to get some alone time with Veronica.
Dance: The Betty

“Chimp off the Old Block / Skiing / Who’s Afraid of Reggie Wolf” (11/2/68) – A gorilla follows Jughead from the zoo and ends up in the Riverdale High football tryouts. / Hot Dog helps Jughead go over his skiing checklist. / Reggie tricks the gang into going into a haunted mine.
Dance: The Banana Split

“Kids Day / Jughead ‘Sampson’ Jones” (11/9/68) – Archie is named mayor for a day. / Jughead drinks Dilton’s super-strength formula.
Dance: The Drag

“Rocket Rock / Retrieval / Par One” (11/16/68) – Believing it a missile they lost, the Army takes Jughead’s rocket—with the gang inside. / Jughead returns a bag that falls out of an armored car. / The boys get jobs as caddies and Reggie attempts to sabotage Archie when Mr. Lodge picks him to be his.
Dance: The Angel

“Groovy Ghosts / Dancing / PFC Hot Dog” (11/23/68) – Reggie decides to frighten the gang in their creepy new clubhouse. / Jughead and Hot Dog cut a rug. / Reggie insulting Hot Dog leads to his running away and inadvertently joining the army.
Dance: The Weatherbee

“Surf Bored / Searching / The Computer” (11/30/68) – The surf contest is interrupted by a menacing swordfish. / Jughead looks for a quarter he lost. / Reggie sneaks into Dilton’s lab to use his computer to do his homework.
Dance: The Surfer
Song: Love Light

“The Old Sea Dog / Late / Jughead’s Girl” (12/6/68) – Reggie volunteers the gang to star in Jughead’s movie and proceeds to upstage everyone. / Hot Dog and Jughead are late to pick up Reggie. / Jughead and Hot Dog are in unrequited love with a girl and her poodle.
Dance: The Grundy

“Dilton’s Folly / Fishing / Lodge Department Stores” (12/13/68) – Jughead and Reggie spy on Dilton’s latest invention and watch as he turns himself into a monster. / Jughead goes fishing and lands a whopper. / Reggie does whatever it takes to secure a bonus while working at Lodge’s Department Store.
Dance: The Rocket Ship

“Private Eye Jughead / Ice Cream / Reggie’s Cousin” (12/20/68) – Jughead gets a new detective kit and plays investigator. / Jughead wants some ice cream, but he’s broke. / Reggie tricks the gang into helping watch his annoying cousin.
Dance: The Indian

“Strike Three / Magic / Cat Next Door” (12/27/68) – Reggie’s hand gets injured, resulting in Jughead having to pitch in the big game. / Jughead puts on a magic show for burgers. / Hot Dog gets into it with the new neighbors’ cat.
Dance: The Milkshake

“Jones Farm / Housepaint / Veronica’s Veil” (1/4/69) – The gang goes to help out at the Jones farm and Reggie tries to get his hands on Grandma Jones’ pies. / Jughead paints himself out of a corner. / Jealous of the attention Betty is getting from the boys, Veronica pretends to be an exotic exchange student.
Dance: The Touchdown
Song: Kissin’

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