Somewhat spoilerly of the first 5 episodes.
I freely admit that I was not psyched about this show when it was first announced. In fact, I was mostly against the idea of this series from the beginning. My main reasoning was that Green Arrow, one of DC Comics third-tier characters, is just not a compelling character that I’d want to sit and watch for an hour. Listen, I liked his character well enough when he was introduced in the “Smallville” series during season 6, but… that was about it. I wasn’t goo-goo over gaa gaa over him and he didn’t add THAT much to the show. If anything, he just seemed like a good upgrade from Pete Ross’s character – except less defenseless and whiney – and … well, you get the picture. Over time, I grew to like that Oliver Queen and I thought the writers of the show made him into a sympathetic character. Ultimately, Smallville ended its 10 season run and I go about my business. When the proposal of this new series focused on Oliver Queen surfaced, I thought that this would be a spin-off series starring, Justin Hartley, the actor who played him in the series. Okay… I’ll bite. Again, not really a compelling character, but a spin-off continuation of a series that I loved, hated and fell back in love again with over 10 seasons was a compelling thought. When it became clear that Justin Hartley was not getting that role and it wasn’t going to be a continuation of the universe already set up, I was less thrilled – not out, just not thrilled.
Once I got over myself and thought about the prospect that this series could open the door to other DC characters that the Smallville writers wouldn’t touch, I was sort of back on board again. DC has many, many, many STUPID villains, but they also have some pretty great ones like Deathstroke The Terminator, Psycho Pirate, Max Lord, The Joker, Lex Luther, Bane (depending on how he’s written), Ra’s Al Ghul, etc. Anything was possible with this series if they wanted to keep it somewhat grounded, but with the ability to ratchet it up if need be. It wasn’t until I started hearing/seeing some of the buzz/screenshots coming out of the San Diego Comic-Con that I began to get really interested in the direction of this series, especially one shot in particular. The shot of Deathstroke The Terminator’s mask on a pike with an arrow through it was all I needed. SOLD!!
Deathstroke (Wilson Slade) is a mercenary for hire. He’s easily one of the top 25 deadliest characters in the DC Universe. Not to bore you with too many details, but in the comics, he’s a super-enhanced, Army-trained killing machine that has bested the most powerful superheroes on many occasions. Most notably, he was the main villain in the widely loved “Teen Titans” series from 2004 – 2007 on Kid’s WB. In that series, you got one of the smartest and most conniving individuals ever portrayed for a wide audience. Even in death, he was formidable. I completely recommend watching this series in which ever way you can get it.
Fast forward to the premier of Arrow: Okay… not sold, but… it’s workable. I liked that action. I liked Stephen Amell as Oliver. Not too sold on the sister (Speedy? Really?). I liked the flashbacks. The premise sort of works for me, and I even like the intrigue surrounding the mom. The two things that instantly turned my nose up were:
- Dinah “Laurel” Lance – In the comics (and “Justice League Unlimited” animated TV series) she’s “Black Canary”. The metahuman with the ultra-sonic “Canary Cry”, booty-kicking member of Justice League International and Birds of Prey (yes, she was also portrayed in that AWFUL TV series of the same name). We know by episode 3 that she can still kick tush, but is played as a justice seeking lawyer and daughter of Detective Quentin Lance. What we don’t know yet is whether the metagene exists in this universe yet. So we don’t know if the “Canary Cry” is even an option that she’ll stumble on to in some future episode or season. What kills me about her character is that I really DO want the Dinah from the comics and less this lawyer-by-day character we’re getting. I get it – this isn’t the comic or animated series, but those were VERY compelling takes on this character and I’m not sold on this version yet. Give me time.
- The stupid, stupid, STUPID voice overs. Please God, stop with the “Revenge”-like voice overs as he talks about the vengeance he must seek and how he must bring justice to Starling City. Yeah, yeah we get it already! Stop with the cornball dialogue and the incessant need to give a narrative take of his reasoning. We know the reason and we just want to see him take action at this point. I hope they hear the growing chorus of people that are voicing their opinion on that matter.
Episode 5: “Damaged” gave us (much sooner than expected) the first appearance of Deathstroke and glimpse as to how demented he is and how much of a menace he can be. With that said, in the fight between he and the other mysterious figure on the island, it may have answered my question about whether he’s the super-enhanced version or not. It’s quite possible that this universe may very well not be as ampted up as I hoped. After getting taken down by the mysterious, green-hooded, Asian bow slinger, I was sort of miffed. However, just seeing Deathstroke, in the mask… it was worth it. Just as it was worth seeing another deadly mercenary, Deadshot, in episode 3. Even the introduction of the “Well-dressed Man” played by John Barrowman (of “Torchwood” fame) was a great addition to this series. One angle of this series that’s much like Dark Knight is that fact that Oliver truly sees his role as something that can be done by anyone who cares about justice. In one scene his bodyguard John Diggle, played by David Ramsey, has to don his uniform to stop a gun smuggling operation while Oliver is under house arrest. This sense of a greater legacy is something we haven’t heard the last of in this series. I’m also pretty sure this isn’t the last time Diggle will be donning the uniform either.
So far, this series has become very friendly to those that love (or not) these characters come to life and I think it will open up (again) the door to others who want a peek inside into one of the fastest growing genres in entertainment. I’m happy this got picked up for a full season and I plan on watching this series, with all of its surprises, for years on end.
Not my favorite character, but definitely one of my favorite series this season. A definite recommendation.
My rating for episodes 1 – 5: 7.5 out 10