When a show based on DC’s Robin Hood, Green Arrow, was announced, I was skeptical. Non-animated superhero shows have ranged from bad to, well, bad. Since this was on WB, known for making a particularly type of show, Arrow had a few hurdles to overcome from the outset. Like any show starting out, this needed to decide what type of show it was going to be. Will it embrace it’s superhero roots, or deny them?
Like any medium translation, there’s a bit that was changed from the comics. Fear not, most of the source material remained intact. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was shipwrecked on an uncharted island for 5 years. He left a pampered billionaire child and returned a hardened man. Now he’s taken up a crusade with his bow and rockin’ abs to clean up his home of Starling City (or Star City). Quickly he becomes a well known vigilante, killing those he feels deserves to die. Did I mention the abs?
The writers lifted their template for the show straight from Batman Begins. That’s not a criticism considering the strong quality of the source, just noticeably obvious. Billionaire goes missing for years, thought dead. Returns to wage a war on crime in his city. Maintains a duel life, has a secret base. The city even has a dilapidated part of town that is laden with crime. Oh, and the police are constantly trying to capture him. Was that Batman or Arrow? Again, I can’t blame them, though they did start to branch out towards the end, somewhat. The entire season is intercut with Queen’s time on the island, which was filled with militant guerrilla troops with a handful of opposing forces (i.e. two people). After a few confrontations with the former, Queen joins the later and begins to learn, growing stronger.
Overall, the season was a mixed bag. Elements from the comic were constantly mentioned. Queen’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) had the nickname Speedy (name of GA’s first sidekick) in her youth , Bludhaven (sister city of Gotham) was a near by city, and Ted Kord (Blue Beetle II) hosted a galla or two. While these were subtle nods, there were plenty of overt ones as well. Roy Harper (GA’s sidekick’s name – Colton Hayes) became a recurring character after being saved by the vigilante. Slade Wilson (Deathstroke – Manu Bennett – Spartacus) was the opposing force on the island, helping keep Oliver alive.
Plenty of other characters were added, fleshing out world but giving the show a case of the week feel. China White (Kelly Hu) was seen early on, but holy crap could they have spent more then $20 on her wig? Deadshot (Michael Rowe) also appeared a few times. While it seemed as if he died in his first appearance, which would have been a waste, he returned later as a perpetual thorn. Count Vertigo (Seth Gabel) was done incredibly well, introducing a hallucinogenic drug to Starling City. Fellow vigilante Huntress (Jessica De Gouw), who is typically a Batman character, made a few appearances as well. A combination of poor writing and miscasting brought her character down.
A notable new character was added, John Diggle (David Ramsey), named after long GA writer Andy Diggle. Diggle is a strong point of the show, becoming incredibly popular. So much so that he was added to the comics in 2013.
The latter half of the season certainly improved. The narration from the first handful of episodes was dropped. An over arching plot began to come into fruition, though the final outcome echoed Batman Begins even more so. The fight scenes became less chaotic and easier to follow. The casting choices and costume design was noticeably batter as well. Though early poor choices like Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance haunted the show.
The first season of Arrow was rocky but steadily improved. While not for everyone if this seems appealing, give it a chance to find it’s footing, you won’t be disappointed.
What did you think of the first season of Arrow? Did some miscasting hurt it for you? Comment below!
Yes, how no one recognizes him his hokey.