Fall 2012 Review: Arrow

15 Nov

The titular Arrow is DC superhero Green Arrow, on whom the show is based, although I don’t know exactly how close.  My knowledge of Green Arrow is more or less limited to his name, Oliver Queen, his city, Star City, his sidekick, Speedy, and the fact that he and Green Lantern had a well-known comic in the ‘70s where he was liberal and Lantern was conservative.  I probably know a little more if I rack my brain, but I decided to leave it at that for this viewing and review, and save any further Green Arrow research for after.  So I’m not sure how accurate this show is, and can’t be angered/buoyed by changes made/not made for better or worse.

Oliver Queen has just been rescued, when we come in, from an island where he spent five years after a shipwreck in which he was the only survivor.  A super rich twenty-something playboy beforehand, Oliver changed profoundly on the island (seems plausible enough that five years on an island alone could do that), but he’s trying to convince many people he hasn’t, especially not telling them about his city-rescuing alter ego, a dude in a green hood with mad archery and not-getting-killed-by-guys-with-guns skills (which he gained on the island somehow?  I’m willing to suspend disbelief for a comic show).  He was apparently inspired by his dad (played by evil Homeland vice president Jamey Sheridan), who was on the boat too, and did everything he could to ensure that Oliver lived, pushing him to make up for all the bad that the family company had done after he was rescued, and somehow transmitting a very Revenge-like list of villains that have something come to them.

He reconnects with the people in his life, introducing them to us as they get reintroduced to him.  There’s his mom, who is now married to a former partner of his dad’s (if this was Castaway, she’d be Helen Hunt, and the new husband Benjamin Bratt).  There’s his sister, nicknamed Speedy (hint, hint?), who may have developed a drug problem in Oliver’s absence.  There’s his best friend, Tommy, who wants to rush Oliver right back to his playboying ways, throwing a big party to celebrate his return.  And finally, there’s his ex-griflriend, Laurel, now a do-gooder lawyer fighting for legal aid, whose sister died in the shipwreck, where Oliver was cheating with her, on Laurel.  Oh, and she’s now kind of seeing best friend Tommy.  Awkward.

We know he’s out to get all the people on his list, but no one else knows yet, and he shows his island-gained bow and arrow abilities in a couple of nice action scenes, taking out a shady corrupt businessman from the list and his legion of guards.  Oh, and his mom apparently was behind a kidnapping of him, which he escaped from towards the beginning of the episode.  So that’s about something.

I know more about comics that most people, but less than anyone who has ever seriously read comics, so as I said, I’m not judging this with the comic in mind.  I thought there was a chance that I would like it based on the little I knew and assumptions I made in my head, and I did enjoy it, which I think that’s more of an achievement than it seems.  I didn’t think it was great or a cinematic achievement or was blown away by it or plan on immediately telling everyone I know to watch.   I am going to watch the second episode though, and that’s pretty good; only a few series get that far every year  (the TV show equivalent of getting my Top Chef jacket and making the main competition – sorry, just watched first episode of new Top Chef season).

I enjoyed the set up and I think there’s promise in exploring the mysteries behind the shipwreck, his history, and what his mom is out to get, and I liked the characters and actions scenes enough to feel like I wanted to watch another episode after this first one finished.  There’s not much to the characters right yet, other than the broad strokes the episode generated – reformed playboy, debaucherous best friend, legal aid maturing ex, troublesome sister, but I think what kept me interested most was that it seemed to hit the right feel between serious and light and feeling comic book-y, where broad strokes, at least to begin with, are part of the natural order.

Random note:  The three things we see Tommy refreshing Oliver on which happened during his five years on the island –  Super Bowl winners, Black president, Lost ending (which, rightly, he doesn’t understand).

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I think I will.  It’s not an instant must-watch by any means but it’s certainly at least on the level of Revolution which I gave a few more episodes, and I’ll at least give it two or three more and see if I stay intrigued or fall away.

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