After watching trailers and interviews I had mixed feelings going into Arrow. On one hand, the idea of a realistic super-hero TV show was intriguing, however it had some kind of annoying W.A.S.P.ish taint and the themes seemed a bit forced.
Strangely both of these reactions amalgamated for my final opinion of the show. After watching, enjoying and cringing for 6 episodes.
The show starts of with a heavy dose of cheese right off the bat. This caught me off guard significantly, as the show has been marketed as one of DC’s darker and realistic works, even compared to the Dark Knight trilogy at times.
But never mind that, I should get to the plot…
Oliver Queen was born into a wealthy family, and lives a selfish and unrestrained lifestyle (trying to avoid the over-used “millionaire playboy” description). He becomes stranded on an island and for 5 years he learns to survive on his own, perfecting his natural but previously unpractised archery skills. He returns home and starts hunting down members of organised crime in the guise of a green-hooded archer.
The main character has hints here and there of Dexter, mainly in his social malnourishment and difficulty relating to others. He’s willing to kill those he views as both evil and above the law; though he gives them a chance to repent and right their wrongs.
Arrow is written with the intention of being realistic. Super heroes aren’t referred to as such, there’s no super-powers or daft costumes. Practical, realistic, believable… this is what it aims to be. Which is why it bugs me so much when the writing and acting is sometimes forced, heavy handed or on the nose.
On the other hand, it does a good job of exploring issues of isolation, re-entering society and every day life, crime, justice, legality… it’s interesting seeing morality and justice from the perspective of a police officer, a lawyer, a bodyguard and a vigilante. The plot is interesting, and remains interesting throughout the 6 episodes I’ve watched and there’s some good acting. But it’s going to have to work on some things.
Sometimes I feel as if the writers put in stuff just to look cool, like dramatic exits. Also the themes and messages that are being put across are done in such an obvious manner. If Arrow wants to rise above the mediocrity of it’s home-channel CW, it’s going to have to stop treating it’s audience like idiots… add some subtlety. And last of all can the double “previously” at the start of each episode; which first goes through Oliver Queen’s origin story and then recaps the last episode or significant events.
And despite all the moans and complaints I have (and I have a lot) the pros far outweigh the cons. If you look for problems in Arrow, you’ll find them; but if you watch it with genuine interest and put aside your inner Scrooge… you might be surprised. Frequently things pop up in Arrow which I don’t expect, like how Oliver Queen’s bodyguard is - and I don’t mean this as a backhanded compliment - one of the most interesting characters so far, and how the show tackles the problem of hiding one’s identity better than the Dark Knight trilogy did.
Arrow has it’s problems, but it makes up for it.