TV Review: “Arrow” – Off Target

Written by Jessica Koroll November 19, 2012

For comic book fans left waiting on the next major film release of their choosing, the wait is undoubtedly going to be a long one. In an attempt to offer some reprieve however, the CW’s latest breakout series, “Arrow,” draws heavy inspiration from the recent “Batman” franchise, as well as the highly successful, “Smallville,” to create a gritty and suspenseful series loosely based on DC’s Green Arrow. While it does manage to deliver some interesting action, the dual lives of Starling City’s Oliver Queen prove too sporadic and underdeveloped to offer any worthwhile comfort for those in need of a superhero fix.

“You know us billionaire vigilantes, we do love our toys.”

When billionaire playboy, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), returns to Starling City five years after  disappearing in the midst of a disastrous boating accident, he is faced with friends and family who are not all as he remembers. Between the spiralling out of control behaviour of his younger sister, Thea Queen (Willa Holland) and his quick reintroduction to the city’s public eye, Oliver is challenged by family secrets and an ever pressing need to defend his city from corporate corruption. Donning a green hood, archery bow, and an astonishingly useful knack for Russian, Oliver is transformed into the city’s resident vigilante.

First, let me tell you about the dialogue. It’s pretty clear that some decision was made early on that logic was not a detail that they wanted to harp on in this script. There is hardly a single conversation in this entire show that I can imagine taking place in a real world setting. It’s not so much that the issues discussed are unimaginable in the context of the plot but, rather, spoken lines run the gamut of either simply being predictable and teeming with forced emotion or, at their very worst, completely devoid of any sense or purpose. Choosing to focus more on throwaway pop culture references and regular workout scenes, the few heartfelt moments and hints of tortured pasts we do get become outright comedic the minute anyone opens their mouth.

Exhibit A: His go to facial expression for everything.

“I want one of those t-shirts that says my friend was a cast away and all I got was this crappy shirt.”

This obviously doesn’t leave the actors very much to work with. Amell’s Oliver Queen is most notable for his use of only two facial expressions to date. Although there have been a couple scenes that really emphasise his mental instability and the obsession that drives his nightly pursuits, they are overshadowed by stiff acting and inconsistent characterization. Similar problems exist for the series’ other regulars, particularly Willa Holland’s Thea Queen and Katie Cassidy’s Laurel Lance. Both characters fail to garner any sympathy as the former only really has the one function of reiterating her back story constantly, whereas the latter’s understandable dislike of Oliver is degraded by her shallow and inconsistent interactions with him.

As I mentioned earlier, “Arrow” does manage to deliver some decent action sequences. While Oliver has a large collection of arrows at his disposal, including explosive and poisonous weaponry, he does not rely on technology very heavily during fight scenes. His primary use of physical strength allows for several well choreographed scenes to break up the monotony. However, it also points to the glaring fact that most of his enemies are accomplished business men with leagues of lowly henchmen. Oliver isn’t fighting anyone who’s particularly strong here and it never feels as though he’s in any real danger, which really doesn’t help the series at all.

As Oliver Queen’s past is slowly unveiled and the corrupted elite of the fictional Starling City are brought to justice, I find myself caring less and less. Although I have little knowledge of the comic and can barely speak of its abilities as an adaptation, the show itself is not good. It’s best to save it for those nights when you need some background noise.

My Rating: 5/10

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About Jessica Koroll

An English student with a taste for the surreal and love for all things science fiction, her thoughts generally linger on Star Trek, lit theory, and recent tv episodes. I'm also @korolline_

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