Ok, so the CW doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to television shows. Most of them are made and marketed towards the drama llama crowd of teens and tweens. At times, it seems they cater towards the emotionally insecure Twilight crowd. However, there have been some diamonds in the rough, such as Supernatural (which I am not a huge fan of, but it beats the hell out of most shows on the network) and Smallville (its early seasons anyway). This is why I was a little ambivalent when I saw the first trailer for the show Arrow. My first few thoughts were, ‘Really CW, a chiseled boy toy and his too sexy to be real best friends are gonna be in a gritty Nolanesque television show? Good luck.’ Then I actually gave the pilot a shot. While not perfect, the show had potential, and I decided to give a watch every Wednesday.
The show follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen. After being stranded on an island for 5 years, he is rescued and returns to his home in the corrupt Starling City, he puts on what is basically a Robin Hood costume and uses the archery skills he learned on the island to take down the corrupt businessman of the city using a book of names his father gave him before he committed suicide. While he never gives himself a proper name, and neither does public, to be honest, the superhero he is portraying is Green Arrow. The show is given to us in style that is like a reverse Lost, wherein the show takes place off the island and there are flashbacks to the island, which somehow ties in with the theme of each week’s episode. This allows the show to give information where it wants and can build some great suspense.
Thus far my relationship with this show has been…a very love/hate one. Sometimes the episode is fantastic, at other times it is ridiculously annoying. In the beginning, the show got better with every episode, it built and built and built, revealing more and more about Ollie and how horrible life was like on the island. It built this dark secret that Oliver’s mother and a mysterious gentleman, played by John Barrowman, were keeping from him.
Unfortunately by episode six, something broke. The show was almost at the top of a long mountain it had to climb to prove that it could be on any television station, not just the CW. In episode six, it tripped. In episode seven, it fell on its ass. During episode eight, it had rolled all the way back down the mountain. What caused this downfall? Pointless characters, i.e. the Royal Flush Gang, breaking from established formula to develop a very shallow relationship with another character, and horrible acting from the actress who portrayed said character. I’m not exactly sure who told Jessica De Gouw that she could act, but he needs to be fired immediately. She portrays probably one of my favorite female (anti-) heroes from DC comics, Huntress. The writing for the character was great, don’t get me wrong, and I love her costume, but the acting was atrocious.
Another issue I have with the show is the fact there are blatant moments where the writers rip off Nolan Batman. While I admire that they are inspired by such great films, there is a fine line between inspiration and straight up plagiarism. Though it is to be expected from a show that is based off of a character that at the time of his inception (no pun intended) was a rip off of Batman.
The show is not all bad. Yes, some of the acting from Oliver Queen (Steve Ammel) is a little bland, but he is a damaged man, so not much range is needed. Everyone else is consistent, with the exception of David Ramsey and John Barrowman (that’s right ladies and gents, Jack Harkness himself) as Diggle and the villainous Malcolm Merlyn, respectively. These actors shine through and are probably the most entertaining part of the show.
While sometimes lacking in the story and acting department, the show makes up for with its fast paced, highly entertaining fighting and action scenes. They are very fluid and you can tell a lot of detail went into every movement made by the characters. It’s wonderful. Normally, an episode suffers if it has very little action in it, because it has become such a staple of the show.
In my opinion, all of the greatest things in the show that were in separate episodes all come together for the mid-season finale. Episode nine, “Years End”, was the best episode of the entire season with a great reveal and a bigger mystery set up. It also brought back the flashbacks, which had been missing in the past two episodes. The action was wonderful and the dark archer character really brought Oliver to his knees in a way no other character in the show had done before. While the episode was rife with Nolan-esque lines and plot points, it was too engaging to really care.
Overall, the show being only halfway through its first season cannot be fully judged, but as it stands it is clearly a “first season,” it has its ups and it has its downs. While I am not too familiar with the source material, I can say as a TV show, it isn’t too bad, it won’t win awards, but I don’t expect it to. We give Arrow 7 out of 10 pocket protectors.