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?