Fans of the DC Universe were already well versed on who Arrow/Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell – ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows’) was. Outside of the comics he had previously appeared in Smallville, but here we get a much deeper look at him. Season One sees Oliver turn into Arrow while stranded on an island for five years after his father’s yacht shipwrecks. Upon returning to Starling City Oliver becomes a vigilante determined to bring justice to the people who were named in his father’s notebook.
Oliver works hard to keep his identity secret from his mother, Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson – ‘Dragonfly’) and sister, Thea (Willa Holland – ‘Legion’) who have never recovered from him disappearing five years earlier, and soon learns that his mother may or may not be involved with some of the crimes that he is looking to shut down. Then there are Oliver’s helpers – his dogged bodyguard turned side-kick John Diggle (David Ramsey – ‘Dexter’), the original tech-girl herself – Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards – ‘Legends Of Tomorrow’) and his ex-girlfriend turned social lawyer – Laurel Lance (Katie Kassidy – ‘Taken’). Oh and of course Laurel’s father, Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne – ‘24’), is a Detective who wants to see Arrow brought to justice.
When Marvel and DC announced that they were looking back through catalogs in a bid to capatlise on the popularity of anything comic book related in a bid to come up with concepts for new television shows and movies it was joked that not only were cleaners being asked to scour the basements for old comics but they were probably the ones also writing the screenplays. Jokes aside even the most hardened comic book films were concerned that the rush would not only mean that characters that didn’t deserve shows/movies would be given them and that those projects would be so hastily written that they would be below par.
Well it turned out that all the fears were wrong. While films like ‘Ant-Man’ may not have been as good as some of the other films in their franchise but it was still pretty decent. So what about the television shows? I finally took the chance and decided to check out Season One of Arrow and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed.
As far as television shows go the creators of ‘Arrow’ need to be congratulated on a number of levels. First of all for keeping this show as dark as it is and not pandering to the fear that Oliver may not be a likable character if he wasn’t changed for the screen. Having a character who was basically cheating on his girlfriend with her sister was risky as the show could have easily lost a lot of female viewers early on, however the writers of the show were smart enough to go about it in such a way that they made the redemption of Oliver so easy to see that the show was quickly embraced by both males and females alike.
The other major difficulty for the writers of ‘Arrow’ is that somehow they had to show what happened to Oliver during his five years on the island, while also showing what was happening during the present in Starling City. Weaker writers would have made a mess of such a concept and ended up doing lame flashbacks that would have more than likely seemed out of place. Luckily, the writers here were above that and instead have the ‘flashback’ sequences fit neatly into the show. Somehow they even manage to keep the suspense of Oliver’s time on the island work, despite the fact the audience can tell that there is no way Oliver could have died during these times.
So many comic book hero shows also become tedious because it feels like every episode is written to a formula and the show becomes extremely predictable – that is never the case with ‘Arrow.’ While early on it feels like Oliver will just be hunting down people on the list and crossing them off as they are either killed or put in jail, things change when Diggle suggests that Oliver should be using his power to do more than that and suddenly that puts more legs into the show. The storyline’s are also moved along by the fact that Quentin does all he can do to bring down Arrow (while remaining a likable character) while the introduction of Dark Archer (John Barrowman – ‘Torchwood’) introduces a decent nemesis who again doesn’t fall into the old trap of coming up with lame Bond-villain style crimes. The season finale where part of the city threatens to be levelled might seem over-the-top but actually fits into the show pretty well.
Before ‘Arrow’ hit the airwaves Stephen Amell was not a household name. While he had a string of guest appearances in shows he was purely plucked from thin air by the producers of the show and boy did they get it wrong. After watching just one season of ‘Arrow’ it is hard to imagine anybody but Amell in the role. He is well supported by the likes of Willa Holland, Emily Bett Rickards and Katie Cassidy who show that they are more than just pretty faces and instead deliver the right level of drama when needed. One of the standouts in the series though is Susanna Thompson who plays Moira in such a way that you never really sure whether she is going to swing to the dark side completely or whether there is hope for redemption.
Sure ‘Arrow’ doesn’t reach the technical brilliance of some of the DC Films (especially Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy) but it does overcome some pretty major hurdles to become a show that you will want to watch every week. Suspense galore and action to the hilt if you love your comics than you can’t go wrong with ‘Arrow Season 1.’
Episodes: 23, 42 mins
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Katie Kassidy, Paul Blackthorne, Willa Holland