Occasionally, I can be wrong about a new show. I will allow my prejudices to blind me against something worthy of being watched. This was the case with Arrow. Between my usual disinterest in graphic novels and superheroes and the fact that Arrow airs on The CW, I did not add this new series to my must-try list, despite its... visual appeal and the positive reviews it was receiving. But then it started strong - earning extremely good numbers for the little network that tries but often fails, and those numbers did not drop off at all. Next, Arrow became one of the first new fall programs to receive a full-season pickup. This reassurance that investing in the show would not prove futile combined with my previous curiosity towards Stephen Amell's titular role proved enough to convince me that perhaps I had made a mistake; perhaps Arrow was worth backing down on my new CW show ban.
And, boy, am I grateful.
Of all the superhero movie franchises out there, Christopher Nolan's version of Batman is the only one I consider must-watch. Batman has no superpowers; he doesn't wear a ridiculous spandex catsuit. He's a real man seeking vigilante justice. That is compelling. Sprinkle in his wealthy playboy status and his brooding nature that comes from heartache (something every girl sometimes secretly... sometimes not so secretly dreams of fixing), and the result is a dark drama, a soap opera with an edge. Arrow follows this recipe, and it does so well.
Don't get me wrong. The show isn't perfect. Ideally, a project like this would have the same production values as a big, blockbuster film... especially given the comparisons so easily drawn between Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne. While character development and plotting are the two most important elements to any production, cheap graphics can really hurt a project - not because the visuals are so very important in and of themselves but because, if they're bad enough, they can completely break the flow of a series and remove the viewers from the moment. Unfortunately, this happened several times during Arrow's pilot episode, primarily during Oliver's flashback scenes. You would think that the CW would have learned their lesson after last year's CGI ocean scenes on Ringer. Apparently, that is one hard nut of knowledge to crack with the network. There's hope, however, that, now that the background story has been introduced, these flashback scenes won't be necessary any longer, and they will quickly become obsolete. In the meantime, there are many other things to appreciate about this new show.
Have I mentioned Stephen Amell yet? Wow. I know his looks, his body shouldn't matter that much, but they do. I mean, that face... Those abs... Those arms... I'm not kidding. I literally found myself salivating during his workout montage. And then take the physical and meld it with his wounded, haunted personality, and that characterization is right in my wheelhouse. Plus, it won't get stale (like it ever really could!), because Amell essentially has to play two roles simultaneously - that of Arrow and that of the Oliver Queen everyone expects him to be. The bonus is that he's not the only one keeping secrets and pretending to be someone he isn't. Almost every single character on this show is hiding something, and that becomes great storyline fodder. The majority of these roles were also strongly portrayed as well, particularly Paul Blackthorne's Detective Quentin Lance. It will be particularly interesting to see how Lance's relationship with Ollie/Arrow evolves as the series progresses. Willa Holland also fits well into her role of Thea Queen, Oliver's emotionally floundering sister, but this should come as no surprise because Holland is playing to type. Regrettably, the one character weakness found in Arrow's pilot was that of Dinah "Laurel" Lance, portrayed by Katie Cassidy. As the woman Oliver loves and the person he missed the most, she needed to be spectacular, his equal in depth and complexity, but, at first glance, she appears just one bad decision (sleeping with Tommy) shy of being a Mary Sue. If the show wants her to be this unattainable dream, Arrow's female counterpart in the program's super-couple, then it has some major work to do.
Verdict: Buy! It has been a light new crop of entertaining fall series this year, but Arrow is a surprising treat.
|P.S. Make sure you pay particular attention to Arrow's soundtrack. In the pilot alone it featured Icky Babes' "Girls" and The Raveonettes' "Apparitions" (as quoted in this post's subtitle).|