TV review: The CW’s “Arrow” off to a promising start

arrowOliver Queen is a very lucky man. He survives a shipwreck and five years of being marooned on a treacherous island. He is miraculously returned to his family and friends, who assumed he was dead and thought they’d never see him again. He’s given a second chance at life — one he doesn’t intend to take lightly — and he now has an opportunity to right some of the wrongs he and his family have committed.

Oliver Queen’s quest to redeem his family’s past is the subject of The CW’s new superhero TV series “Arrow,” based on the DC Comics character the “Green Arrow.” The show airs on Wednesday nights and stars Stephen Amell as the ex-playboy Oliver Queen who now moonlights as a hooded vigilante known as the “Green Arrow.”

The show has an intriguing premise, and I believe it has the potential to grow into a strong action/adventure drama. It’s a fun show, and I’d definitely encourage fans of superhero stories to give it a try. (Also, I’ve tried to be as spoiler-free as possible in this review, but if you haven’t seen the show yet, there may be some details that give away parts of the plot.)

Oliver Queen wasn’t exactly the poster child for responsibility before the shipwreck, but his brush with death and the loss of his father (who sacrificed his life so Oliver could live) sobers him, and he returns to Starling City a changed man. His father has given him a notebook that contains the names of corrupt businessmen and other powerful officials who are hurting the people of Starling City, and Oliver dons a hood and deals justice to these corrupt officials using a bow and arrow, a skill he picked up while stranded on the island.

The show has some similarities to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” but overall, it isn’t as dark as the “Dark Knight” trilogy. It’s sort of in between “Batman Begins” and “Iron Man” in terms of tone. The Oliver Queen character isn’t as flippant or snarky as Tony Stark, but he’s also not as brooding as Bruce Wayne. The show also has some Robin Hood parallels (the Green Arrow even wears a hooded jacket that’s fairly similar to the look of Robin Hood’s costume in the recent BBC series “Robin Hood”).

Stephen Amell makes Oliver Queen a likable protagonist. You can see Oliver truly regrets his past mistakes, and he’s committed to being a better person. However, he isn’t perfect, and he struggles to navigate through the uncertain waters of the ethics of vigilante justice.

There are some nice supporting characters in the show, as well, who help to flesh out the story. David Ramsey is excellent as Oliver’s bodyguard John Diggle. When I started watching the show, I had hoped Oliver would eventually tell Diggle about his alter ego and invite him to help him clean up Starling City. Oliver does end up telling Diggle about his secret, and Diggle joins Oliver’s crusade. He keeps Oliver accountable, and I’m glad to see the characters working together. Paul Blackthorne is also excellent as Detective Quentin Lance. He doesn’t trust the Green Arrow and is concerned about what could happen if his vigilante activities spiral out of control.

The show’s format has Oliver investigating a different corrupt official every week, though there are some overarching plot threads that tie everything together. One of the most intriguing parts of the show is that a member of Oliver’s family has become involved in a mysterious and sinister conspiracy that could be tied to the boating accident (which may not have been an “accident” after all).

The show isn’t quite as iconic yet as “Iron Man” or “Batman Begins,” but I do think it has plenty of potential, and it’s one I definitely plan to keep watching. It’s a nice mix of fun action/adventure scenes and timely social commentary, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the show in the future.

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2 thoughts on “TV review: The CW’s “Arrow” off to a promising start

  1. I was a huge Smallville fan. I watched it from the first season passed the point where it was no longer good (about season 6). I waited for some kind of tie-in with Arrow & Sallville but there wasn’t one. So I bailed first episode. I will have to re-watch it since you’re not the first person whose opinion I respect who said they enjoy it. I miss Smallville.

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