Tube Watch: Musings on CW’s ARROW’s Pilot

It’s been almost a year since I actually have a TV show to watch on a weekly basis, those I was initially anticipating either got canceled or I simply didn’t have time to watch 😦 Now, I’ve blogged about ARROW a few times before and I posted the trailer here. I’m even more excited to see the positive reviews, and now that it’s here, I’m happy to report that it was pretty good.

For those of you who aren’t into comic book stuff, Arrow is basically the DC comics’ The Green Arrow. The show revolves around young billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who was stranded on a deserted island for five years and returns to his hometown Starling City a changed man. There’s not a lot of exposition on his life on the island, in fact, it only showed Oliver, looking very much like Robinson Crusoe being rescued by local fishermen sailing in the South China Sea.

Oliver quickly assumes a vigilante identity, a la Bruce Wayne as Batman, becoming the city’s ‘savior’ as a way to atone for his selfish behaviors of his former life. In fact, someone on Twitter suggested Bruce Wayne making an appearance on the show, as you can see in my tweet, that’d be a geeky girl’s dream!!

According to comicbookmovie site, Torchwood‘s alum John Barrowman’s been hired to guest star, but his role is top secret. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’ll be a DC-crossover thing happening. Fingers crossed!

Now, as a superhero fan, you know why this type of stories appeal to me. But yet there hasn’t been any TV show that keeps my interest because of bad writing/awful acting, etc. [cough Smallville cough] but this one certainly has a lot going for it in the pilot that hopefully would keep me tuning in!

The Good

I definitely like the darker tone of the show. I must say there are a LOT of resemblance to the first hour of Batman Begins as far as Oliver’s journey is concerned, but to be fair, their identities are very similar to begin with,except that Oliver’s mother is still alive [more on that later].  Some reviewers have said this isn’t like in the comic books, but since I didn’t read the comics, I don’t mind the fact that the show’s creator took a lot of liberties, even shortening the name to make it less comic-book-ish. I’m also glad this character has NOTHING to do with the Green Arrow character in Smallville, though they use the same mansion of the Luther estate for the Queen manor.

Canadian Stephen Amell is a perfectly-cast as Oliver: he’s got the tall, dark and handsome thing going on, all good recipes for a superhero, but he’s also got that mysterious quality about him that works for the role. He hasn’t exactly displayed much range, I think he’s charismatic enough as the protagonist. His transformation from up-to-no-good playboy to a brooding, fierce bow-wielding hero who’s not afraid to kill when necessary. The action stuff is done pretty well and Amell’s um, athleticism is in full display. CW certainly makes the most of his washboard abs during Oliver’s training in his dad’s former factory, but who am I to complain? 😉 The archery stuff seems pretty authentic to me, Amell had said in interviews that his trainer was adamant in getting the form right. He said the coach started the training by showing him a 45-minute video of all the ways archery has been done badly in film and TV.

Overall I think the quality is an improvement over Smallville, I say that because at least I did not cringe every two seconds like I did on that show, and this coming from a huge Superman fan! The gritty look and well-shot action set pieces are quite fun to watch.

Oh, it’s interesting to see Colin Salmon here though, as a Bond fan I noticed him as one of MI-6 agent in two of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, in fact if he were younger, I’d love to see him play a black James Bond! I hope the producers will give him something worthy to do here, I certainly would love to see more of him on this show!

The not-so-good

Ok this is only the second show on CW I watch, but it has the same weaknesses in that some of the lines are cheesy and the acting is questionable. I’m talking about the supporting cast, especially the guy playing his best friend Colin Donnell, his character is just annoying and it doesn’t help that Donnell is not an experienced actor. I hope they keep his screen time at a minimum. Katie Cassidy fares a bit better as the love interest, but I’m not exactly impressed by her yet.

I talked about that there’s a lot going on in the pilot, now you could say it’s a bit overstuffed. Yes, the mysterious plot definitely opens up to a lot of interesting possibilities, but seems like it could be one twist too many. Even in just one episodes, there are a bazillion thing our protagonist has to deal with… the mysterious death of father, shady mom who marries an even shadier business partner of his late dad, not to mention the love triangle between two sisters, one of which died on the boat that capsized. As if that weren’t enough, the city’s top detective Quentin Lance happens to be the father of the two sisters, so you could imagine he’s not exactly fond of Oliver.

With all the characters not being who they seemed, it feels like a big action-packed soap opera, so I think the producers have to be careful not to overdo it. There seems to be a lot of conspiracies within the Queen family itself, what with the revelation at the end involving his mother. I can’t help but roll my eyes, I mean, another twist?? [face palm]

Is it worth watching?

It remains to be seen but for sure it’s got potential. Of course there are a ton of unanswered questions that I’m hoping will get at least partly answered in future episodes. I mean, how in the heck that nobody ever sailed near that island in the entire 5 years, is it possible that Oliver just didn’t want to be rescued just yet? If so, why?? Then, how did he even train himself archery to the degree of being a professional assassin? What’s up with his dad’s drastic decision on the lifeboat?? That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but so far I’m pretty hooked to find out more!

I think the USA Today review says it best:

“By almost all measures, Arrow is one of the season’s more promising pilots. And yet, fairly or not, it must hurdle a substantial problem most other pilots don’t face, and it can be summed up in two letters: CW. Whether from budgetary restraints or management problems, there’s no company out there, broadcast or cable, with a worse record for turning promising pilots into terrible series.”

Let’s hope CW breaks that pattern. One thing for sure, the show is a hit. Apparently it scores the network’s highest ratings in 3 years so it might be around for a while. I do like what I’ve seen so far, but it really has to be worthwhile over time for me to keep tuning in, Amell’s abs-tastic notwithstanding.

Anybody else seen this show? Well, what did you think?

45 thoughts on “Tube Watch: Musings on CW’s ARROW’s Pilot

    1. Oh come on Dezzy, a lot of your shows you watch, like the Borgias etc are likely a whole lot darker than this. And yeah, one of ’em probably will turn into Black Canary if they do follow the comics, we’ll see 🙂

  1. Ted S.

    Yeah I watched it last night and I cringed at pretty much most of the dialogues in this episode, I thought it was pretty bad. I’ll watch another episode and hopefully it improves but I don’t have high hopes for it. I also thought the lead actor is too rigid and has zero charisma, if I was a director on this show, I’d probably get fired because I would yell at him quite bit for being so bad. I totally agree with you on the supporting actors, they’ll so annoying, including the bad guys and the cops.

    This makes me wish they’d gone with the movie version with Matt Damon a few years back instead of this cheesy TV version.

    1. Ahah Ted, come on man, you like Smallville but you think this one has cheesy dialog? Well it does at times, that’s the not-so-good part I mentioned above, but not nearly as bad as Smallville IMO. I mean I couldn’t even bear watching that one anymore and you know how much I adore Superman. As for Amell, I think the ladies beg to differ with you on the charisma thing. No, he’s no Christian Bale but his acting is more than fine for a TV show, his character is meant to be stern looking, but I see that Amell can also pull off his more mischievous side in the flashback scenes.

      I’m glad they make this show. I like Matt Damon but seriously, he can’t play every single Bourne-type role out there.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah I thought the first three seasons of Smallville were great, probably the best show on TV at the time. It got sillier down the line though, I just wish they stuck with the storyline of young Clarke and Luther; that’s what I love about the show. Luther’s a genius and he’s trying be friends with Clarke because he knows Clarke’s special, so he can manipulate him down the road.

        This show on the other hand, there’s nothing that really hooked me. I did like the little surprise at the end there, that’s why I’m going to give it another shot. And yes I do hope the writing improves on the second episode. Everything in this pilot episode just screamed Batman Begins but not in a good way. I also hope they get rid of his best friend character, he’s so annoying.

        Not sure if you followed the movie version but they were going to start it in prison where The Green Arrow got arrested and that’s how they were going to introduce his character. Most of the movie would’ve taken place in prison. I thought it sounded intriguing but I think the studio folks wanted an origin storyline, so the film never got made.

  2. Great write-up, Ruth. I saw a commercial for this, but I wasn’t that impressed. This looks like a show waiting to get cancelled, so I probably won’t be tuning in. Honestly, I’ll most likely forget when it’s on, like I always do with TV shows. 🙂

    Haha. Smallville is a show I’ve vowed to finish eventually. I’ve seen the first six (of ten) seasons, and I have season 7. It has its good and bad episodes, but the good ones are so worth it. One day I’ll watch the rest.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Josh, as I mentioned above, I loved Smallville’s first three seasons but it got sillier down the line. I think the show lost me when Luther starts sleeping with Lana, not sure which season that was. They sort of redeem themselves with the last couple of episodes in the last season. I wish they’d stick with the storyline of Clarke and Luther, two of the biggest rivals in comics history.

    2. Hey, don’t say that if you haven’t seen it yet 🙂 It’s pretty good actually and the ratings are quite high so I doubt it’ll get canceled soon. I do have a short attention span when it comes to TV shows so it has to be really good for me to keep watching, I mean I’ve already stopped watching Hawaii Five-O as I get bored with it. Smallville is just awful in terms of acting/dialog IMO, for one I think Oliver Queen is far more interesting than Clark, and the girl playing Laurel isn’t nearly as cringe-worthy as the girl playing Lois and Lana, boy they’re both utterly terrible.

      I see what Ted says though about Luther and Clark, there’s a lot of interesting potential there, plus the actor playing Luther is actually pretty good. Luther sleeps with Lana??! Ok I rest my case.

      1. @Ted: I think the Lex/Lana relationship began in season 5, but luckily it ended. 🙂 I agree on the Clark and Luther storyline, Ted. That was the best part of the show. I heard it get sillier, but I want to see Clark working at the Daily Planet.

        @Ruth: Haha. Fair enough. Rosenbaum as Luther is my favorite part of Smallville. I haven’t seen any episodes after he left, but I dread them. The Clark/Luther storyline is very intriguing, but I also like Clark and Lois’s relationship on the show. Of course, some moments are cringe-worthy, indeed. 😉

  3. Hi, Ruth and company:

    ‘Arrow’ sounds interesting. Since many prospering towns and large cities need a vigilante. I propose that Oliver start showing some smarts and find a friendly hacker. To begin developing a database of all odd, strange and conspicuous purchases made at Lowe’s, Home Depot and DIY Home Project stores.

    Said database would have files on purchases of Drywall, Sheet Rock, Studs, Diamond Plate, Electrical fixtures, Concrete, Wiring and any appliances whose innards could be McGyver’ed into a Haldon Collider, Way Back or Earthquake machine so popular with super villains and their underground lairs!

    Think of all the time saved in tracking down and rounding up bad guys!

    Oliver could then buy into several Insurance companies and have rates increased and expanded on abandoned warehouses, deserted factories, automobiles, public transportation and the odd shipping container. Keeping in mind that there is always profit in chaos.

    Just a few random thoughts. That if implemented now, will help guarantee a second and possibly third season.

    1. Ahah, too funny Jack! Well on this pilot he somehow managed to create an arrow that can actually WITHDRAW funds from a mob boss’ account directly to his, even Bruce Wayne doesn’t do that, ahah. There is always profit in chaos, very true! Well, hopefully this show could keep me interested past the first season 🙂

  4. You know…when I read the title through my rss feed (I always decide which one to read based on the title 😉 )…I wonder what kind of show it is…curious and curiouser. But when you wrote it’s a superhero kinda thing…it puts me off instantly…hehe sorry.

    However…I like your writing style, Ruth. The good and the bad thing…I have a TVShow on my blog post schedule…I am thinking of copying your style…may I? 😉

    1. ruth

      Ahah, well isn’t Dr Who somekind of a superhero as well? 😉 Oh thanks, I’m glad you like the style. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so yeah, feel free to copy it, he..he..

  5. Great article! I watch so many shows I probably shouldn’t get into anything new and CW is a huge red flag for me – the only show that works there is Supernatural and it still has embarassingly bad episodes at times.

    CW just seems like the company which always produces same series – hot young actors, noble girl, love triangles, some hit pop songs and silly twists at the end of each episode.

    1. ruth

      Yeah, CW is a red flag for me too, I’m just not into their shows. But thankfully this one is good enough for me to want to see more of, the lead actor is definitely muy caliente, but that’s generally not enough for me to keep watching. I mean Tom Welling is beyond gorgeous but he can’t act his way out of a paperbag!

  6. Stacy

    I can’t believe I forgot to watch this episode! I ended up doing laundry and going to bed early Wednesday night. Thankfully, one of my co-workers at DISH reminded me that I could set my Hopper to record six different things during primetime each night of the week, so I’ll have to add this to my weekly list of shows to record. I think it’s tough to judge an episode by only its pilot, so I look forward to seeing how well the writers carry this show through the next few episodes.

    1. Hi Stacy, welcome to FC. You can watch it online now, I hope you enjoy it. Yeah, it’s hard to judge just with the one show, that’s why I’ll keep watching a few more times and see whether it’s worth following, but I like what I’m seeing so far.

  7. Only just saw the pilot. I agree with your summary… it has potential. There’s things I like about it but really need to see a few more episodes before I decide to follow it. But I did enjoy one particular dialogue: “She’s the one that looks like the girl from Twilight”, “What’s Twilight?” “Better off not knowing”.

    1. Ahah yeah, I forgot to put that but that’s one of the funnier dialogs of the show, I hope they improve on it more and adds more wit to it. There is only a pilot so far Asrap, but now I want to see more!

  8. sanclementejedi

    Ruth, I have not had a chance to watch it yet but it’s on my tivo machine, glad to hear that it is worth checking out.

  9. I caught the first episode (online after-the-fact), and I liked it well enough, but I had some of the same issues you mention regarding the dialogue and acting. I’m going to catch the second episode, and then post my initial thoughts. So far it’s more pessimistic than optimistic, but I’m going to at least give it a second episode to work out the jitters. Nice to see Paul Blackthorne, though.

    1. Hi Morgan, glad to hear you like it enough to give it a second chance. Which one is Paul Blackthorne? So far I like that it has some diversity in the casting. Hopefully the quality improves in future episodes 🙂

        1. ruth

          Ah I see, I like that guy! He’s one of the better actors in that show IMO, hope we see more screen time between him and Stephen.

  10. Ann

    Ruth, would you happen to know the song that’s playing in the club right after his confrontation with officer when we find out the he is the father? It’s very familiar but can’t quite place it. Thanks!

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