Riverdale

I read in the newspaper that Netflix was adding a new television series, based on the Archie comic characters beloved by millions. I also read that it was an updated version, a reflection of 21st century social conditions.

Forewarned, I watched the first episode of Riverdale anyway. The characters names are the same as in the comics, the situations are different. All traces of the innocence that made the comic appealing are gone.

So I won’t really comment on Riverdale’s content. Suffice it to say that it is a melodramatic soap opera where the actors all look at least a decade older than the characters they portray. Archie, Betty and Veronica on this show bear little to no resemblance to the characters I remember from my childhood.

So we’ll forget about that aspect of Riverdale. What is interesting is the groundbreaking method of delivering the show, something that may just revolutionize television viewing.

You know how it is with television shows. The producers dump multiple episodes online all at once. You are expected to binge watch, thirteen episodes or more in a day or two. Put your life on hold and watch the whole thing. Maybe grab a few hours sleep along the way, but get it done as quickly as possible, then put the show aside for a year until another batch of episodes is released. By which time you have forgotten the previous episodes, so you have to witch them again too.

People who try and limit their television intake, who won’t or don’t binge watch, are ridiculed by their peers. The wind up succumbing to the social pressure. No-one wants to be the only person at work or school who doesn’t know how House of Cards came out, or at least how the most recent episode ends. (Spoiler Alert – Donald Trump becomes president in the real-life version.)

Television is the central entertainment vehicle for our society. It makes sense somehow that we would devote large blocks of our tie to watching a specific show. It can be a little awkward if life intervenes, and we aren’t as far along as our friends on a particular hot program, but sometimes we just have to live with the social embarrassment.

Now Netflix is challenging our television viewing habits. When I went to look at Riverdale there was only one episode. That’s right, not 13, not a “season,” just one. People will have to wait a whole week before they can watch the next installment.

What a brilliant idea! I wonder why no-one has thought of this before.

If this catches on, no longer will people have to set aside countless hours when they want to watch a new show. An hour, or even half an hour a week will suffice.

And think of the social possibilities! No longer will your friends be six or seven episodes ahead of you in their viewing because they need less sleep. Each week you can all watch the same episode of the same show, and have something in common to discuss. It will revolutionize social discourse.

I tell you, this is brilliant. I’m surprised someone didn’t come up with the idea long ago. Too bad they didn’t try it with a more compelling show than Riverdale.

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