Whether you call him The Hood, The Vigilante or simply The Arrow, this is the story of a show that is so much better than it needs to be.
For any of you who have ever taken the time to watch a show on the CW, you know that the network’s requirements are as follows:
1) Hire a young and extremely attractive cast. Acting ability is a bonus.
2) See #1.
So Arrow was set. They could easily have just skated along on Stephen Amell’s abs and probably still been one of the network’s more successful shows. But then they did something surprising and actually put in the effort to make it good.
Full disclosure, I know nothing of the Green Arrow as he exists in comic books. I was always more of a Marvel girl growing up, and my forays into DC unfortunately usually stopped at the big 2. So I have absolutely no idea how closely the show follows those storylines. In a way I love this. Every villain is new to me. Every twist is a surprise, or at least as much of a surprise as it can be when you know who ultimately has to come out on top. So while I can’t speak to the show’s faithfulness to the comic books, I definitely know what I like.
As a female viewer one of the first things that grabbed my attention was Felicity Smoak. In a genre that too often milks the damsel in distress angle for all it’s worth, she is fantastic. (Don’t worry, there are definitely some damsels distressing elsewhere on the show.) Felicity is brilliant and hilarious and genuine. The chemistry between her and Oliver Queen is palpable, but not in a way that screams romance. Even if it does head that direction, and we all know it always does, Felicity is already a fully realized character who is a member of the team on her own merits.
Now let’s talk arrows. You can’t have a show called Arrow without a lot of arrows, and they don’t disappoint. At some point I read that Stephen Amell took archery lessons and that there is an expert on set. It shows. Obviously I have no idea how realistic Oliver’s accuracy is, I’m guessing it’s pretty ridiculous, but it’s cool to think that a person could really do that stuff with just a bow and arrow. Plus some of them explode which is always a good time. To me this seems like a brilliant choice for a TV show superhero. The effects have to be cheaper and easier than super strength or flight would be, but it is every bit as cool.
Another highlight for me has been the casting. I’m painfully aware of my personal bias on this front, but almost every week there is a guest star that makes me squeal. I love it when John Barrowman pops up anywhere, but it is super fun to see him play someone a little more sinister than Captain Jack. Manu Bennett has been delightful and terrifying as Slade Wilson. And is there any show on TV right now where Tahmoh Penikett hasn’t shown up as a bad guy? I miss Helo. For me Arrow is a weekly trip down memory lane and almost always results in a repeat viewing of some random episode of an old show.
One of the coolest things the show has done is present the island as a series of flashbacks. Spending a few minutes every week on the island with a very shaggy Oliver lets us into his psyche and shows us his training without taking away from his current adventures. We slowly learn how Oliver became The Arrow while watching him use his awesome new skills. It’s also super convenient as a storytelling device. Need Oliver to speak Russian to make a scene work? Great news, he learned Russian on the island!
Above all Arrow is a fantastic story that doesn’t make the mistake of taking itself too seriously. Oliver Queen is just conflicted enough to be interesting in between the awesome action sequences. He wants to do the right thing and save Starling City from an ever increasing number of really odd bad guys, but like real life that “right thing” isn’t always black and white. And then, just in case that gets too heavy, there’s an earthquake machine. Because why not?
So while I was as excited as the next girl to see Gotham finally get a green light earlier this week, the fact is there’s already a superhero on your TV screen that’s worth checking out.
Anybody else out there like Arrow as much as I do?