The CW’s ARROW – ‘Pilot’ Review

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

ARROW: Pilot — Review

Well, I watched the CW Networks’s ARROW, based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow character. Yes, it’s a complete re-boot of the character, and it bears little resemblence to the previous TV version of Green Arrow, played by Justin Hartley on SMALLVILLE for several seasons. With all the “re-imagining” going on I was prepared to dislike the series. 
The surprising thing is, I found the series premeire quite interesting and enjoyable to watch.

To save me the typing here’s the official boilerplate regarding the series.

“After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance.

As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be – flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle – while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on – and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.”

Well, I’m glad I had that to fall back on, because the pilot (entitled Pilot) is so stuffed with incident and characters that some of it was a blur.  For instance, even though I had known in advance (at some point, months back) that  Detective Quentin Lance was the father of the girl who died on the Queen’s yacht, I had no inkling of that while watching the episode, until just about the end of the program, when the policeman, frustrated with a glibly evasive Oliver Queen, asks “you didn’t even try to save my daughter, did  you?” I had no idea what he was talking about for a few seconds.

There’s enough plot material in the episode to fuel a full season of a prime-time soap opera. And make no mistake, there is going to be plenty of angst-ridden soap on this show. Judging from the first episode, there’s also going to be a lot of well-done and edgy violence, as well. I was surprised at the level of violence this ‘hero’ was capable of— he’s quite literally lethal, killing a man, a kidnapper,with his bare hands simply because ‘no one can know his secret’. 
In fact, later in the episode  for a few seconds I thought he killed another, entirely innocent person, until I realized that the character— Oliver’s bodyguard—is set to be a series regular. He just knocked him out, apparently. (We don’t as far as I could tell, see or hear of the character again in this week’s show. Maybe it was cut for time.)

The  show is an attempt to turn Green Arrow into a vigilante protagonist to match the flavor of the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale BATMAN films.  This seemed a stretch to me, as the comic book version was originally created in the Golden Age as a sunnier, more wholesome copy of the Dark Knight.
However, this show is pretty damn dark, and thus far pretty interesting, despite being overloaded with exposition, emotional confrontations,  and dark doings, all of which might have been better unfolded over the course of several episodes, rather than one. It sure wasn’t slow.

The series stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, and he very nicely portrays both the current cagey, fury-driven Queen, and his younger self in flashbacks. Katie Cassidy plays (Dinah) Laurel Lance, an idealistic lawyer, and in the comics becomes The Black Canary.
 Colin Donnell played Tommy Merlyn, Oliver’s old hard-partying friend, who may or may not know that Queen is now a dangerous vigilante. Merlyn in the comics was Queens archery mentor and some-time adversary. In the New 52 comics (which I have not followed), he’s an old friend to whom something strange has happened. Any direct tie-in to the series? Anyone’s guess at this point.
Brian Markinson guested as Adam Hunt, the first of the villians on the Arrow’s list—from his dead father’s diary/confessional notebook. He could turn up again.

Arrow _susanna-thompson-in-

Susanna Thompson as Moria Queen -- Villainess or just bad mother?

Willa Holland was Thea Queen, Oliver’s troubled sister, Susanna Thompson plays Moira Queen, a rather sinister Mother figure. She’s now married to  Walter Steele, played by Colin Salmon.
David Ramsey was bodyguard John Diggle,  and Paul Blackthorne was Detective Quentin Lance.

ARROW airs Wednesdays at 8:00 PM/7:00 Central on the CW Network.

From Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Brothers Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (GFREEN LANTERN), Marc Guggenheim (FLASH FORWARD)  Andrew Kreisberg (WAREHOUSE 13), and David Nutter (SMALLVILLE, GAME OF THRONES).   Co-executive producerMelissa Kellner Berman .

PILOT directed by David Nutter from a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim, story by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim.

About the Author

Tom Powers

Tom Powers was Editor of Starlog.com from 2005-2008. He's been involved in independent filmmaking, voice acting, and also writes fiction and fact-based articles elsewhere as Thomas V. Powers.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.