I don’t know anything about the Green Arrow comics. Literally, nothing. All I had was an educated guess that he wears green and wields a bow. This worked well for my first viewing of the Arrow pilot, because I was fascinated by the backstory. The opening scene throws you in the middle of the action as a disheveled man in green is climbing about a rock island. Even with the expository narration, it’s a thrilling way to launch a new series.
They pull back to reveal that the man in green is Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell), a billionaire playboy who shipwrecked five years ago and was presumed dead. Oliver’s awkward attempts to reintegrate with his former life are intercut with flashbacks to the night of the shipwreck. Unfortunately, as Arrow drifts away from the island and spends more time in the city, the show loses its luster. Hit the jump for the rest of the brief review and a recap of the Q&A with stars Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy as well as producers Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and David Nutter.
Amell is a good choice for the Green Arrow. He is believable as a petulant trust fund kid, but also pulls off the steely determination of a man who spent five years alone on an island and turned into a superhero. He is beautiful and cut, too, showing off abs of steel in a very impressive factory workout scene. Basically Amell is the perfect anchor for a good CW show.
Unfortunately, “good CW show” may be the ceiling for Arrow. I enjoy a good origin story, and the Green Arrow’s is right up there. But all the resulting good will is buried in the outside melodrama that ensures it fits in the CW brand, marked by a cheesy sheen and bland characters.
Arrow’s biggest offense is Oliver’s dumb, womanizing best friend Tommy. He is always horny, hates Twilight, and is never funny. It is a dull and obnoxious character (a toxic combination), made much worse by Colin Donnell’s decision to drown his voice in smarm. The worst part is that by the end of the first hour, Tommy is thrust into a longform plotline that ensures he will be a major going forward.
There is a diamond in the rough here, but to succeed going forward will require considerable course correction.
I don’t expect to be a regular viewer going forward, but I was impressed enough with Amell and certain aspects of the pilot that I was curious to hear from the cast and crew during the Q&A. Here are the highlights of what they had to say:
- The comic Green of Arrow: Year One served as the proof-of-concept when developing the show.
- Guggenheim announced that in an upcoming episode of Arrow, China White will be played by Kelly Hu.
- Amell was apparently the first person who came to audition for the role.
- Amell on landing the role: “Who doesn’t want to play a superhero on TV? I’ve always wanted to play a villain, but this will do for now.”
- Colleen Atwood designed the costume in the movie. “Oliver’s not wearing a costume.” The costume is designed for function over form, to enhance his physical advantage over the bad guys.
- Kreisberg says Dinah “Laurel” Lance (Cassidy) will get in the action “not as soon as you want, but sooner than you’d think.”
- There was never really discussion from spinning off the Green Arrow character played by Justin Hartley in Smallville because they felt that version was not designed to anchor his own show. Kreisberg points to Batman as an example where you can enjoy multiple characters
Green Arrow kills in the pilot, leading Amell to say, “Oliver wasn’t going to take on something so monumental without collateral damage.” Amell has come to terms that you might not like some of the things he has to do to clean up the city.