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TV Wasteland: Arrow Aims High
DC tries to get back in the game with its Green Arrow series.
By Rob Vaux
October 07, 2012
© The CW/Robert Trate
The fall season kicks into overdrive this week, topped by the eagerly anticipated new season of The Walking Dead. Since we suspect it will be awesome, we’re going to focus on a much bigger question mark: Arrow, the new superhero series over on the CW. As per the Christopher Nolan Pravda of gritty, realistic comic-book adaptations, this one imagines Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as a scarred, tough-as-nails vigilante taking on the rampant crime in his city.
Will it work? We certainly hope so. So does DC, facing an empty slate after Nolan’s departure and standing on the wrong side of an ever widening-gap with their rival Marvel. Arrow has the potential to give them a real boost, establishing one of their less well-known heroes in the popular consciousness. On the other hand, their clear emulation of the Nolan formula may not serve them as well as they think. Bruce Wayne could handle the dourness and borderline nihilism, both because of who he was and because the general public knows so much about him. Green Arrow needs to do more prep work and while yes, periods of his comics have gone to some very dark places, Queen always acted as a more chipper alternative to Wayne’s brooding billionaire.
DC is reluctant to abandon a formula that they believe works: witness their TV version of The Flash from the early 90s, which practically screamed “Tim Burton” in every frame. Arrow might establish itself as a unique brand – and I wish it Godspeed in that endeavor – but it’s not going to get there if it clings to Nolan like a barnacle. The stakes are high for this one, and failure is not an option. If the show scores, DC is back in the game. If it tanks, then the pit they find themselves in will only grow deeper.
Arrow premieres this Wednesday at 8:00 PM EST on the CW, with a rerun on Friday (also at 8:00 PM EST).
Revolution (NBC, 10:00 PM EST)
Charlie and Nora save Miles from the militia, even as Nate surreptitiously follows them all. Revolution’s high ratings seem to be holding, meaning it could pull NBC out of the cellar. I was skeptical of its chances. I stand corrected.
Alphas (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
Hicks and Kat protect a Parish recruit whose talkative nature serves as a distraction from the scary guys chasing them all down.
In Time (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EST)
Justin Timberlake doesn’t walk on water, but he’s become a viable movie star, which was once almost as far-fetched.
The Running Man (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
Schwarzenegger makes everything better… oh wait, no he doesn’t.
Halloweentown (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
Disney established a reliable brand with a series of direct-to-cable movies about a town beset by evil and a good witch trying to save it.
X-Men: First Class (HBO, 9:00 PM EST)
This baby could give The Avengers a run for its money as the best Marvel adaptation ever.
Cursed (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Wes Craven drops the ball in a big way in his efforts to reinvent the werewolf genre. Stick with the superior Ginger Snaps if you want to see this kind of material done right.
Creepshow (IFC, 10:00 PM EST)
Man, it’s good to see this marvelous George A. Romero/Stephen King collaboration getting some love.
The Empire Strikes Back (Spike, 7:00 PM EST)
Because Spike can always be counted on to throw a Star Wars movie out there.
Oh, and for the record: the Yankees are whiny little punks.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
The CW uncorks Joss Whedon’s Internet phenomenon about a put-upon supervillain (Neil Patrick Harris) looking for true love and acceptance. Frankly speaking, it left me cold. I suspect I am very much alone in this opinion.
Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Genuine Hollywood big shot Brian Grazer serves as the guest judge, while the contestants create make-up inspired by Dr. Seuss. Break a leg guys. This man can open doors.
Hot Set (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
This week’s challenge falls back on the Alice in Wonderland motif.
Apollo 13 (AMC, 10:30 PM EST)
I can forgive Tom Hanks a lot based on his sterling work here. Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton rock the house too.
Rumble in the Bronx (Cinemax, 8:30 PM EST)
Pay no attention to those suspiciously British Columbian hills and trees in this fab Jackie Chan joint. It’s the Bronx. Really.
Die Hard 2 (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
We’re getting an odd collection of Die Hard movies this week. Not that that’s a bad thing, just a little strange.
Halloweentown 2: Kalabar’s Revenge (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
Hey, Debbie Reynolds likes the steady paychecks too.
Déjà vu (FMC, 8:00 PM EST)
The late Tony Scott directed this silly thriller about a secret government time travel program, or something.
Cowboys & Aliens (HBO, 8:00 PM EST)
Harrison Ford does not look good here.
The Brothers Grimm (IFC, 10:30 PM EST)
Rarely have we seen such a potentially great film piss so, so much away.
Fright Night (Showtime, 8:00 PM EST)
Sometimes, the remakes work just fine. Then nobody goes to see them and I start foaming at the mouth about Twilight all over again. Why do I mention this? No reason…
Tangled (Starz, 7:15 PM EST)
I’ll skip the hair-based puns and just remind you that this movie is delightful.
The Muppets (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
Don’t let Kermit down. No one wants to let Kermit down…
Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
DC attempts to deal with a post-Nolan world by recreating Green Arrow as a weekly television series. See the top of the article for more.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
The team heads south of Mason-Dixon to investigate the Old State Capitol in Louisiana and a haunted plantation in South Carolina.
Paranormal Witness (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The swing state of Ohio attracts monsters who don’t wear flag pins, as the team tracks a creature with gigantic footprints.
The Haunting (TCM, 8:00 PM EST)
Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House receives a superb black-and-white adaptation, directed by the great Robert Wise.
The Uninvited (TCM, 10:00 PM EST)
The Old Tyme chills continue with a 1944 tale about a brother and sister who purchase a haunted house.
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
The Winchesters save Kevin’s mother, and she joins them on their search for the tablet.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
He did say he’d be back after all…
Halloweentown High (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
In case you couldn’t get enough of the first two movies…
Live Free or Die Hard (FMC, 7:00 PM EST)
Len Wiseman scores a reliable hit in the fourth Die Hard film, thanks to a stellar bad guy in Timothy Olyphant and the ever-dependable Bruce Willis in the lead.
The Thing (HBO, 8:00 PM EST)
It’s the generally acceptable remake, not the best-horror-movie-ever-made original.
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 7:20 PM EST)
If you look hard, you can actually spot the moment when Kate Beckinsale stops giving a fuck.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EST)
Sheldon hires a female assistant, which Amy is not cool with. Meanwhile, up in orbit, Howard begins to seriously lose his shit.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
The CW’s soapy cash-in on the Twilight phenomenon returns for a new season, as Elena wakes up after the car crash with vampire blood in her veins.
Beauty and the Beast (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
They reboot the old Linda Hamilton/Rob Perlman show with a newer, hunkier cast including Smallville’s Kristin Kreuk. We’re not judging. We just wish it the best.
Thinner (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Joe Mantegna saves an otherwise middling Stephen King adaptation about a fat man who grows skeletally thin under the influence of a gypsy curse.
Cujo (AMC, 10:00 PM EST)
Animal loves may want to pass on Stephen King’s infamous rabid St. Bernard story, anchored by an amazing performance from Dee Wallace.
The Matrix Reloaded (Cinemax, 6:00 PM EST)
Things were looking so good there for a while… what happened?
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (Cinemax, 8:20 PM EST)
Part 2? Part 3? Does it really matter?
Return to Halloweentown (Disney, 8:30 PM EST)
Disney apparently has a bottomless sack of these movies.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (HBO, 7:00 PM EST)
It’s all payoff and no exposition, so do your homework beforehand.
Red Riding Hood (HBO, 9:15 PM EST)
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: Amanda Seyfried has that “what big eyes you have” thing down cold.
The Green Hornet (Starz, 9:50 PM EST)
Yes, casting does matter.
Shutter Island (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
Not even Martin Scorsese can rescue a movie if the screenplay is a piece of crap. This screenplay? It’s a piece of crap.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (TCM, 10:30 PM EST)
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford embodied one of Hollywood’s great off-screen feuds. It’s just as juicy onscreen in this creepy camp masterpiece about a former child star and the crippled sister she torments.
Fringe (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
The Fringe team hides out with a group dedicated to preserving human history.
Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EST)
Nick and Hank find a twitchy father-daughter duo while searching for a gruesome murderer.
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The town experiences a rash of deaths on the ocean, prompting Audrey to break out her water wings and take a look.
Christine (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Director John Carpenter is hit and miss with this Stephen King adaptation. The hits, however, nail it every time.
Pet Sematary (AMC, 10:00 PM EST)
King was reportedly reluctant to finish this novel: it scared him just that badly. The movie does justice to his horrifying premise.
Girl vs. Monster (Disney, 8:00 PM EST)
Say, what’s this one about? The title is kind of vague…
Bedlam (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Ellie and Max reach out to a ghost who was drowned in the asylum pool.
Hot Tub Time Machine (Comedy, 9:00 PM EST)
John Cusack and the gang playfully riff on time travel conceits while revisiting their 80s heyday. I won’t defend it but… yeah, okay, I’ll defend it.
The Devil’s Rejects (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
If sleazy is your thing, Rob Zombie’s your man.
Evil Dead II (IFC, 10:15 PM EST)
Do I really need to tell you how awesome this is?
Apollo 18 (Showtime, 8:00 PM EST)
Without giving away too much, I will say that this found-footage horror film about a secret trip to the moon suffers from a very similar problem to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.
I Am Number Four (Showtime, 9:30 PM EST)
It gets a whole lot better when the Australian chick shows up. Pity that’s right at the very end.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Starz, 6:40 PM EST)
Jack Sparrow crosses swords with the legendary Blackbeard in the hunt for the Fountain of Youth. Roundly rejected by critics, I actually think it’s one of the better entries in the franchise.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
This shit burns. And not in a good way.
House of Bones (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
A reality TV host and her crew get more than they bargained for when they investigate a haunted house in New Orleans.
American Horror House (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
A sorority house must contend with a gaggle of ghosts and a demented ax murderer on Halloween night. Where do they come up with such original ideas?
Incidentally, AMC is showing Walking Dead reruns all weekend, to let you catch up on any that you missed.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EST)
Get pumped people: The Walking Dead is back! Rick finds a potential new sanctuary in a former prison, even as his wife’s pregnancy advances.
Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EST)
Sunday night got really crowded all of a sudden. Anyhoo, Dexter asks Debra to help him with his latest target, while the Ukrainians get ready to drop the hammer on some poor sap or another.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Emma and Mary Margaret keep looking for passage home, and Snow White gets a dose of poison over in the fairy-tale world.
666 Park Avenue (ABC, 10:00 PM EST)
Ratings for this one do not look good, so catch it while you can. Tonight’s episode involves Gavin sinking his claws deeper into Henry, while a journalist learns that her pieces can’t lie, no matter what she says.
The Shining (BBC America, 7:00 PM EST)
Stanley Kubrick directs Jack Nicholson to one of his career-defining roles, while tormenting a freakishly good performance out of Shelley Duvall in the process.
Zodiac (FMC, 7:00 PM EST and 10:30 PM EST)
Say what you will about David Fincher, he knows how to film “murky.”
Jeepers Creepers 2 (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
Believe it or not, this doesn’t suck.
The Mist (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
The ending works so well, but man it’s a kick to the gut…