Oliver Queen is a privileged jerk. He has rich parents, goes on yacht trips, parties constantly, and cheats on his girlfriend with her sister, but when his yacht goes down in the middle of the ocean, Oliver is stranded on a remote island for five years. After he is found alive, and after learning from his father that their vast fortune was made through less than honest means, “Ollie” returns to Starling City to confront his past, make amends, and bring justice to those that make his city a dark, crime-ridden place.
The first episode on Arrow is pretty much what you would expect from the CW, but has some interesting surprises thrown in as well. There are plenty of great little winks at fans of the “Green Arrow”, but it also keeps the comic book references at a minimum for those trying to watch the show with no former knowledge of the character or his exploits. One exciting scene in a flashback shows the mask of DC Comics villain/anti-hero Deathstroke on a stake, and there’s plenty of arrow-shooting fun to be had. One great thing about the first episode is the way the writers are handling Oliver’s time lost at sea and on the island. Although we don’t really know what happened to him while on the island quite yet, the scenes of him with his father on the lifeboat are surprisingly disturbing, especially the way his father dies, and seeing these little tidbits keep the story fresh. There’s also the case of the notebook that Oliver carries that includes the names of all of the bad men his father worked with, which seems to be his primary motivation for vengeance at the moment.
For those of you that enjoy the drama-filled CW shows like The Vampire Diaries, there’s plenty of melodrama to eat up here. One of the first things that Oliver (Stephen Amell) discovers upon his return home is that his mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson), is now sleeping with the CFO of his father’s company, Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), and it is surely going to be a bumpy road rekindling their former mother-son relationship. Another discovery by Oliver — one which will most likely be another catalyst for depressing family issues — is that his younger sister, Thea (Willa Holland, whose nickname, “Speedy”, is another wink at fans), is mixed up in drugs. It should be pretty interesting to see where his relationship with Thea goes, as it will surely amp up the drama. And last, but certainly not least, we see Ollie come face-to-face with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), whom he screwed over by not only taking her sister on the yacht with him, but was also cheating on Laurel with her. Laurel is not very happy to see him, and it will be interesting to see where their relationship goes as the story progresses. So, not only did his father die, but his girlfriend’s sister died, his mother is sleeping with his father’s best friend, and his best friend, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), is sleeping with Laurel. Plenty of ready-made tragedy to go around. Not to mention the twist ending that will leave many viewers in awe.
When it comes to the action sequences with Oliver as Arrow, there’s a little more to be desired. Not that they aren’t done well, but the deep voice that he uses is a little too reminiscent of Chris Nolan’s Batman, and the skills that Oliver has seem to be a little far-fetched for someone stranded on an island. This may be explained in later episodes, but it is hard to believe in this first one. One major difference from Batman, though, is that Ollie has no qualms with killing the bad guys. We see arrows flying all over the place, and there’s plenty of dead guys in his wake. This brings in the next major player in the series, Laurel’s father, Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), who also happens to be a big-time detective. The fact that Arrow kills the criminals that get in the way of his revenge is surely to be a driving point in the story, and if Quentin ever finds out who he is, it could be a bad day for Mr. Queen. Another problem is with the dialogue and Oliver’s expository monologue. Sometimes the character interactions are a little bit over the top, and Oliver’s inner monologue is cheesy at best, but it isn’t something that distracts from the experience unless you are really looking for it.
Comic books have never translated well when it comes to the small screen. Shows like Blade (which just couldn’t capture the magic of the films due to horrific writing) or Locke and Key (the pilot never even aired) just don’t work the way the producers would like them to. A lot of it comes down to the cost of producing something on the scale of a superhero epic, but with television production costs rising, and a plethora of characters with rich histories to choose from, it is becoming more likely that we will see these creations on the television. The CW seems to have found a winner in their adaptation of “Green Arrow”, though, as the first episode of Arrow is fun, exciting, and has all of the drama that fans of the CW love. Definitely worth checking out!