In the last episode of "The New Archies Reviewed", we met a character named Amani, who we deduced was the combination of Midge Klump and Nancy Woods - which unfortunately happen to be two of the most boring characters in the entire Archie universe.
And in the first episode of "The New Archies Reviewed", we met Eugene, who himself was a combination of Chuck Clayton and Dilton Doiley. But unlike Amani, Eugene actually was given more personality traits. He's extremely intelligent, not very athletic, and he spends most of his free time coming up with inventions that nobody ever asked for, and that nobody will likely ever need.
Oh well, you can't blame a guy for trying.
So, since Eugene and Amani were created especially for The New Archies. I suppose the logical step would be to pair both of them up romantically, right?
Welcome to the episode in which Eugene and Amani decide to give love a try...despite the "help" from their friends.
This is Episode 3A: I Gotta Be Me, Or Is It You?
The story begins in the gymnasium at Riverdale Junior High, and kudos to the animators who had a field day trying to make Eugene the most pathetic athlete in the whole school. Seriously, did they run out of gym clothes, and give Eugene an extra large gym suit? It's a wonder his shorts don't fall down exposing his Underoos!
(Actually, did they even have Underoos in '87? I can't remember.)
Anyway, Archie and Reggie (whose gym clothes do fit them) are talking with Eugene, and Eugene is talking about asking Amani to the Sock Hop - wait...weren't Sock Hops popular in the 1950s? I'm all confused now. Anyway, Eugene wants to ask Amani to the dance, but he's recently discovered that he's a complete nerd, and therefore Amani won't have anything to do with him because she's so cool.
Honestly, Amani looks more like one of the kids from The Cosby Show, but whatever floats his boat, I guess.
Ah, but what Eugene doesn't realize is that Amani has a secret crush on Eugene as well! And just like Eugene, Amani is thinking that she has no shot with Eugene, just because she isn't as intelligent as he is.
Ah, so, it's the classic boy likes girl, girl likes boy, but both are scared out of their wits to tell each other the truth because they both have low self-esteem. Or something. Yeah, let's go with that. Believe me, I know how both of them feel.
Now, the episode that I watched online where I got the screenshots from did not have this scene, but I remember Mr. Weatherbee coming into Miss Grundy's classroom, a cage with a mouse in it somehow getting knocked over, and Weatherbee losing his ever lovin' mind trying to get away from the mouse. Yeah, the scene is forgettable, and probably shouldn't have even been included. I just thought I'd talk about it since I do remember seeing it.
Anyway, we're back in the gym where Betty and Veronica are decorating the gym for the Sock Hop, and right off the bat, I wonder where the safety inspectors are. Veronica is clearly standing on a ladder that is only about a hundred feet tall, and the only thing supporting it is a 12/13-year-old girl? Why, that's just an accident just waiting to happen. Especially since Amani is distracted by a photo of Eugene. Wait, if Eugene and Amani are too shy to speak to each other, how did Amani get a photo in the first place? Did she secretly take his photo with a Polaroid camera, or did she steal a photo from Eugene's Jostens school photo envelope?
Well, we never do find out, as Veronica is whining about needed more crepe paper for decorating. Betty hands Amani a gigantic roll of paper which Amani proceeds to throw up in the air. Because apparently Amani can throw a bulky roll of paper up in the air and Veronica is agile enough that she can grab the crepe paper without falling off the ladder and cracking her skull on the gym floor.
Oh, but the sudden breeze that came from Amani throwing the roll of paper in the air causes the photo of Eugene to fall off the ladder. And Amani's desire to grab the photo nearly causes Veronica to fall off the ladder...
Fortunately, Veronica hangs on...at least until the ladder swings the other way and sends Veronica sailing out the window, smashing into the pavement killing her instantly.
Actually, a fountain breaks her fall, and the only thing Veronica has is wet clothes and a mouth full of water.
And Amani's like "I'm sorry I almost killed you, Veronica, but Eugene's so fine, I can't help myself!" To which Betty responds "Amani, we need to talk because I don't want your Eugene obsession to cause you to set me on fire!".
Meanwhile, Eugene is talking about how woefully uncool he is, and this time Jughead has joined Reggie and Archie for the show. Eugene is talking about how Amani makes him sick, but not in the rockin' pneumonia or boogie woogie flu kind of way.
Reggie suggests that Eugene gets a brand new image, and this prompts Eugene to get this ridiculous look on his face. What can I say? It's a cartoon.
Meanwhile, Betty and Veronica are taking Amani out shopping...at an antique store?!? Really? Is Riverdale in that much of an economic recession that antique stores double as fashion boutiques? I'm confused.
Anyway, at the boutique disguised as an antique store, Betty and Veronica tell Amani that in order to win Eugene's heart, she has to be as bland as he is. She has to essentially turn off the charm and dress up in clothes that make a bowl of porridge more exciting.
In short, she has to dress like "Ugly Betty". Remember that show? I miss it.
Meanwhile, at Reggie's house, Jughead demonstrates the act of eating and juggling at the same time, which apparently includes him eating a whole banana - peel and all. Man, I knew Jughead had an insatiable appetite, but that's mighty impressive. Disgusting, but impressive.
Even more impressive is Eugene's outfit, which kind of makes him look like Bobby Brown - well, back when Bobby Brown was still in New Edition and long before he married Whitney Houston and screwed her up beyond repair. But Eugene is more than willing to do whatever it takes to up his cool factor to impress Amani, and he does this by doing a dance in Reggie's bedroom, tripping over his feet, and destroying something fragile in the room. Yeah, Eugene. You're bad, you're bad, come on. You know you're bad, you're bad. You know it!
The ultimate test comes at lunch, when Eugene and Amani debut their new looks. Unfortunately, in Amani's case, she happens to have perfect 20/20 vision. Normally this would not be a bad thing except that Betty and Veronica have stuck a pair of glasses on her that completely distort her vision.
So we have Amani taking out a stack of cafeteria trays...
...and Amani physically assaulting another student who can't decide between the peach cobbler or lime Jell-O dessert...
...and Amani securing a spot to sit down after tripping and throwing her lunch tray across four tables without so much as spilling a drop.
But of course, Eugene doesn't notice any of this going on because he's too busy pretending to be cool. He's so cool that he approaches Fangs to give him a high five and ends up smashing his lime Jell-O right into his face. It's amazing though. Fangs seems to have developed some self-control since Reggie humiliated him at the Sadie Hawkins Dance an episode or two ago. If not, Eugene's head would have been turned into a basketball.
At the same time, Amani is busy talking to some random girl about how she loves reading the encyclopedia, while fixing herself up a ketchup and salt sandwich. Yum. Of course, the girl looks at Amani with disgust and eventually leaves to find another table. I don't know whether it was Amani's lame conversation or the fact that she literally poured a whole bottle of ketchup and an entire shaker of salt on her bread. And for that matter, what kind of school cafeteria serves nothing but bread and Jell-O for lunch anyway? I know school lunches are typically mocked, but it's a wonder no parent has called the school board to complain!
Anyway, Amani takes a big old bite of her ketchup and salt sandwich and comes to the conclusion that this sandwich will never be as good as grilled cheese. She takes a huge swig of milk to wash out the taste, but Eugene comes along and at the moment she's drinking, slaps her hard on the back...
...which causes Amani to spit milk all over Fangs. You can see that he's about to blow soon. I can feel it. Take cover now.
Anyway, Eugene is trying to be Mr. Smooth despite the fact that Amani is sprawled across the table soaked in milk with ketchup and salt destroying her taste buds. He leans closer, accidentally throwing another helping of Jell-O onto Fangs which causes him to lose whatever patience he had left.
After the fight is over, Eugene and Amani are in Miss Grundy's classroom covered in milk and Jell-O while Miss Grundy is lecturing them on how starting a food fight - intentional or not - is really bad, and their punishment is to
go up to
the desk and get a hundred lashes a piece to serve detention in her classroom
while the Sock Hop is going on. She
also adds her disappointment in both of them, telling both of them that they
screwed up worse than Reggie and Jughead!
After Grundy leaves, Eugene and Amani take turns yelling at each other, blaming each other for the food fight and changing too much and how they never want to see each other again which will be hard to do because they are both in the same room and are contractually obligated to appear in at least 10 more half hour episodes.
But after a short while - like seven seconds - Amani takes off her glasses and tells Eugene that they would look better on him. Eugene takes off his Max Headroom glasses, and tells Amani that they would look better on her. Then the two giggle as if what they said was the funniest thing that they have ever heard. Man, both of them kind of deserve each other, don't they?
Eugene then admits that he wanted to ask Amani to the Sock Hop, but was embarrassed to admit that he couldn't dance. But that's cool with Amani. She'll teach him how to do the Funky Chicken, the Hustle, the Macarena...
...no, wait. The Macarena was in '96. Nevermind.
And in return, Eugene promises to show Amani just how easy it is to use Windows. And, I mean Windows. The original Windows. From the '80s.
And with that, the two decide that detention is the perfect place to start dancing, and a pink heart encircles both Eugene and Amani to show us all that they have bonded over computer chips, dancing, lime Jell-O, and ketchup and salt sandwiches. Ain't love grand?
The grade I would give this episode is a solid C. Sure, it's a plot that's been done to the death...but Eugene and Amani are a nice, if not bland, coupling that for what it's worth lasts the rest of the series.
Or, at least as long as Rick Astley's "Together Forever" stays on the Billboard Hot 100. Whichever comes first.