By Will Robinson
July 23, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Veronica Fish

There’s more to Riverdale than meets the eye. The gritty Archie series showed its pilot at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday night, playing in front of an incredibly eager crowd. Between prime pop culture references (one person was insulted and complimented by being called Betty Draper with different modifiers based on the Mad Men season), uncontrollable hormones, and a murder mystery, it really couldn’t be further from your grandpa’s Archie.

Here are 5 things to know about the pilot. (Warning: Spoilers follow!)

Archie is turning heads

Summer before sophomore year does wonders for the red-haired hero. To paraphrase Kevin Keller’s (Casey Cott) exclamation while staring into Archie’s (K.J. Apa) window: He got hot. Between being a musician, an athlete with the signature letterman jacket, and generally decent guy, it’s no wonder the eventual romantic triangles will develop.

The Twin Peaks comparisons are fair

Riverdale is truly Anytown, USA. The show has a mix of retro (diner straight out of Back to the Future, some of the wardrobe choices) and new (Veronica needs to call an Uber to leave a party). Everything seems quaint, but everyone has a secret: Archie had a summer love affair with his music teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel). Betty (Lili Reinhart) has to handle an overbearing mother. Veronica (Camila Mendes) must live in the shadow of her father’s Bernie Madoff-like crimes.

Oh, and the dead body of missing student Jason Blossom is finally found at the end with a bullet wound.

There are shades of your other favorite high school shows

The ongoing mystery doesn’t only usher in Twin Peaks comparisons. The executive producers themselves also added in the Pretty Little Liars comp. There’s a school rally that plays music akin to Friday Night Lights.

Veronica steals the show — as does Josie

It’s no wonder the first Veronica vs. Betty (friendly) matchup for Archie’s affection went the way of the black-haired bombshell. She walks in the new girl, the focus of national scorn, and plays nice with the right people. But Veronica’s not afraid to put Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) — who acts like she’s related to Regina George — in her place to help Betty.

Meanwhile, Ashleigh Murray brings to life Josie McCoy, the ambitious bandleader of her bubbling group, the Pussycats. It’s been a role she’s prepared for. “I’ve been Josie since I was 12,” she said after the airing. Murray even walked out with the Pussycats’ signature cat ears.

Luke Perry is the best dad

If Dylan McKay fled 90210 and sought to live a simple life, Fred Andrews is a good alter ego. The construction business owner first comes off as wanting Archie to stick with the family business, but his desire runs deeper: He wants him to find his passion and true self, and pursue it to his fullest ability.

Riverdale arrives midseason on The CW. Watch our video with the cast, above.

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

  • TV Show
  • 4
  • TV-14
  • 01/26/17
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