Shawconnect TV critic Brent Furdyk samples the upcoming pilots for a first look at the new fall TV season
Starring: Stephen Arnell, Colin Donnell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne
The gist: When his father’s yacht sinks in a horrific storm, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen is shipwrecked on a deserted island, where he remains for the next five years. Now he’s back, and the bad guys of Starling City had better scatter because in his spare time he’s a ruthless vigilante archer who’ll stop at nothing to right wrongs and fight injustice, checking off the nasty names of a list of evildoers that his father (Jamie Sheriden) gave him before he sacrificed his own life so his son could survive the ordeal.
When he returns home, Oliver is stunned to learn his mother (Thompson) is now married to his father’s former right-hand man. He also tries to reconnect with his former girlfriend, crusading legal-aid lawyer Laurel Lance (Cassidy), which is easier said than done since he was cheating on her with her own sister, who drowned when the yacht sank. She forgives him, but her father, police Det. Quentin Lance (Blackthorne), still holds a grudge over Oliver’s role in his daughter’s death. Noticing that Oliver seems to be acting a bit strange, his mother hires a chauffeur/bodyguard/babysitter (Ramsey), who has no idea the spoiled rich kid he’s driving around is a bow-flexing superhero.
It’s like… Batman meets Robin Hood
Sample line: “There are many more names on the list, those who rule my city through intimidation and fear. Every last one of them will wish I died on that island.”
IMHO A sort-of spin-off of Smallville — Oliver Queen/Green Arrow was a quasi-regular on the almost-Superman series — Arrow is a far darker, far grittier show, yet never lets you forget it’s based on a comic book. Replete with cliched dialogue, cartoonish characters and hokey good-guy-vs.-bad-guy storyline, things perk up substantially whenever Oliver puts on that hooded cloak and starts kicking butt. Unlike Smallville‘s Clark Kent, though, Oliver doesn’t incapacitate his enemies; when Oliver cocks his bow, he shoots to kill, and watching his arrows take lives seems a bit jarring amidst the show’s comic-book elements.
Tonally, Arrow is all over the place, not sure if it wants to be Smallville or The Dark Knight, but there’s no denying the action sequences are nothing short of spectacular. As soon as Oliver picks up his bow, the show instantly jumps from so-so to awesome. Arrows fly as fast as bullets, stuff explodes all over the place and Oliver beats up bad guys like a cowled ninja, using his bow to clobber them in hand-to-hand combat. This almost make up for the sillier elements of the ludicrous plot, which involves stealing $40 million from a corrupt real-estate developer so Oliver can redistribute the money to the people he ripped off.
Fun facts: Smallville viewers will notice that Queen was previously played by a different actor (Justin Hartley), but producers decided to take the character in a different direction. Meanwhile, fans of the Green Arrow comics know that Laurel Lance has a secret identity of her own, so don’t be surprised to see an appearance by Black Canary at some point.
Verdict: A solid superhero series that needs to tone down its comic-book elements and embrace its dark side. While some parts of the pilot were amazing, others were downright laughable. Although the pilot misses the mark, the show has a lot of potential that may come to fruition in future episodes.
Prediction: If the enthusiastic reception the pilot received at a recent Comic-Con screening in San Diego is any indication, Arrow should hit a bullseye when it comes to satisfying the fan-boy demographic for whom it’s intended.
ARROW premieres Wednesday, October 10 on CTV Two & The CW