Quick questions with June on the horizon: When exactly will Laughlin casinos — and movie theaters within — open their doors? When they begin dispensing tickets and popping popcorn, will there be any new movies available?
One of this critic’s favorite haunts is Riverside Cinema 6-Plex, where the new chairs must be gathering dust. After two months, my razor-thin patience has gone the way of Blockbuster stores.
For now, here is a tip of the cap to Netflix and The CW for the latest assortment of “Riverdale,” a gift that keeps on giving. Also, a better-late-than-never shoutout to England’s erstwhile “Skins.”
‘RIVERDALE’ SEASON 4
A fortnight ago, I badmouthed the third season of “Riverdale” because of its tedious departure into nonsensical Gryphons & Gargoyle territory before veering deep into the weeds of mental illness. The initial two volumes of this popular spectacle had emerged as a refreshing “Twilight”-esque spin on the Archie comic books, but ensuing chapters lost their way amid the Gargoyle King and damnable Sisters of Quiet Mercy.
Fortunately, the series’ writers and producers have righted its rudderless ship, presenting Season 4 in a profound, more mature, coherent manner. The opening episode, a touching and thoughtfully rendered farewell to Archie’s father (due to the fatal stroke of actor Luke Perry a year ago) portends the well-orchestrated, intelligent shows that comprise the best “Riverdale” yet.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Riverdale without twisted-pretzel logic: Enemies insist on confronting one another — for instance, Hiram’s vengeful daughter Veronica often threatens “Papi” in person — instead of calling law enforcement or ambushing their foe; the dubious decision to overstuff Episode 17 with song-and-dance numbers, chiefly from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” of all things; and the irritating (albeit suspenseful) habit of reviving long-forgotten, possibly dead characters as murderers.
To offset those negatives, we’re treated to an abundance of remedies and balm: Entertainment in La Bonne Nuit speakeasy; the franchise’s lingering motif of tweaking trademarks and brand names; bottled rum made of maple syrup; Stonewall Prep’s ingeniously named Quill & Skull society; Jughead’s bookish narration, even from a temporary grave; plus Cheryl’s encyclopedic lexicon that includes Bride of Hobo, Cuckoo Pants, Mumzie, et al.
For good measure, to keep spectators on the edge of their seats, the most recent season welcomes new residents in the form of Hermosa (Veronica’s sister), Archie’s wayward uncle Frank, and Riverdale High’s prickly principal Mr. Honey, whose sweet surname belies his personality.
What hasn’t changed, what cannot change in the delayed Season 5, are Riverdale’s buckets of blood. The latest mystery: Who is responsible for those creepy videotapes? Our once-beloved “town with pep” will undoubtedly remain Netflix’s capital of crime.
Although I’m late to this seven-year British party that originated more than a decade ago, that doesn’t make its first couple of seasons less worthy of praise. The production, which expired in 2013, lost its footing in revamped Seasons 3 through 5, no thanks to a different batch of troubled teens who followed a cruder, shallow path than their predecessors.
The controversial reputation of “Skins” can be traced to its sensitive topics, from which it doesn’t shy away: sex among high school students, eating disorders, intimacy between a teacher and pupil, drugs, excessive drinking and so forth. What helps the franchise stand out are the players who populate the city of Bristol. Head and shoulders above the commendable cast of regulars are Nicholas Hoult (all grown up since “About A Boy”), Mike Bailey, and that revelation Hannah Murray as mercurial Cassie.
Don’t miss Season 7’s devastating Episodes 3 and 4, which are as visually and emotionally powerful as anything I’ve seen this year. The series elbowed its way to critical acclaim, thanks to authentic conversations and conflicts — in addition to masterful cinematography paired with cool tunes (most pleasing to my ears: Aderbat’s hypnotic “Pale Drone”). The series has claimed its rightful spot ahead of recent facsimiles such as “Lovesick” that fall short by comparison.