Arrow: Pilot Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
So let me get this straight…Green Arrow had been a recurring character in the CW’s Smallville for several seasons. When Smallville ended its run last year, actor Justin Hartley, who portrayed the character, expressed an interest in a spinoff series. For whatever reason it the spinoff fell through…only to have Warner Bros. and the CW develop a new Green Arrow series, with a new actor in the lead role, and completely tossing out the continuity that was established in Smallville…and that turns out to be a good thing.
It’s clear from the beginning that this is not the Smallville Green Arrow. This is a darker, grittier take from the character himself to the style in which it is filmed with a palette less dependent on bold, primary colors, A brief prologue shows how young and wealthy playboy Oliver Queen, son of billionaire Robert Queen, was shipwrecked on an island in the North China Sea when his father’s yacht sinks. Oliver is the only survivor of the wreck that also included his father and girlfriend Sara Lance, the sister of Dinah “Laurel” Lance. For five years Oliver (Stephen Amell) is a castaway on the island who hones his physical and archery skills to the highest degree when he is finally rescued by a passing fishing vessel.
Oliver returns home to Starling City already with an agenda. Before his father died Oliver learned he wasn’t the honest, charitable businessman that he thought he was. Oliver returns to settle the score with some of Starling City’s most dishonest and corrupt powerbrokers by donning a green hood and his bow as the Arrow.
With all due respect to Justin Harley, Amell has already got him beat hands down as Green Arrow. He’s bigger, much more rugged, and more believable as both Oliver and Green Arrow. The dichotomy of his performance as the ultra-rich spoiled son of a billionaire and the avenging Arrow was never established as strongly during Smallville’s run. This version has no qualms about using deadly force as we find out quite quickly when Oliver is kidnapped by a gang of masked thugs.
Arrow had too much soap opera drama for my tastes, especially in the pilot episode. Too much is thrown at the viewer at once. Oliver has friction with Dinah who blames him for her sister’s death; his mother is now married to his father’s business partner and they can barely hide their sinister intentions; Oliver’s teenaged sister Thea is running with the wrong crowd and involved with drugs; and best fried Tommy Merlyn appears to have his own agenda going on. That’s a lot of bases to cover within the span of an hour and much of the drama seemed contrived. And stately Queen Manor looked an awful lot like stately Luthor Manor.
The selling points for Arrow is that it does seem like it will feature a lot of action and will also feature a lot of characters from the comic books. We’ve already met Dinah Lance and Tommy Merlyn, as well as Constantine Drakon, who plays the bodyguard to one of the crooked businessmen who Oliver goes after in the pilot. Other characters set to appear in future episodes include Deadshot and The Huntress.
Arrow didn’t knock it out of the park with the pilot but it did hit a solid double and is definitely worth a look.
Mania Grade: B
Episode: The Pilot
Starring: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy and Willa Holland
Written By: Mort Weisinger (characters created by), George Papp (characters created by)
Directed By: David Nutter
Network: The CW