TV REVIEW – ‘ARROW’
A billionaire’s son returns home after the death of his father, determined to retake the city from the corrupt criminal elements that have taken hold of it. Playboy by day, gritty crime-fighting vigilante by night; with just the right amount of trauma and brooding. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Well, a lot of CW’s new show (airing Wednesday nights at 8pm est.) is cribbed right from the Batman Begins playbook. But that’s not entirely a bad thing — if you’re going to steal, steal from the best, and while Arrow in no way holds a candle to Nolan’s masterpiece, it hits enough targets to get me interested.
** Warning Full Spoilers Ahead **
Pilots can be difficult sometimes. You’ve got so much to balance and so little time to do it. You have to introduce your characters, world build, and still provide an interesting enough story to get your audience hooked. Arrow’s pilot does an admirable job of this by keeping a pretty singular focus on our hero, Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Amell . Oliver has, miraculously, returned home after being shipwrecked for five years on an island in the pacific fittingly named “Purgatory.” Oliver was presumed dead along with his father and girlfriend after a massive storm sunk their ship. For being stranded on a desert island for the last five years, Oliver has come back in pretty good shape, except for scars covering his entire body as the doctor points out (a scene designed mostly as an excuse for Amell to take off his shirt and show off his very well toned physique, this is the CW after all; even though they’re going strong for the male demo – they know who butters their bread). The island must have a great gym membership or else there must have been more going on there then the pilot lets on.
Anyway, Oliver is back and after reconnecting with his sister Thea (Willa Holland) and his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson); his best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) shows up and wants to make up for lost time. They go out, are assailed, drugged, and kidnapped by thugs wearing red skull masks (for a second I thought it was the “Red Skull” but that’s the wrong comic-verse). They take the duo to a conveniently abandoned warehouse (they must teach this in comic book villain 101) and start roughing up Oliver, asking him if his father survived or if he told him anything. It is quickly revealed in flashback that Oliver’s father, just before taking his own life so Oliver could survive, tells his son that he failed the city and that it is now up to Oliver to right his wrongs (no pressure). Oliver manages to free himself and quickly and brutally takes down his captors – killing all three. Apparently, Arrow has no qualms about crossing that line.
This incident sets things in motion and makes Oliver even more determined to clean up the city. After eluding his new bodyguard that his mom forces upon him after the kidnapping, Oliver sets up his secret lair in one of his company’s abandoned factories and prepares to go after his first target, Adam Hunt. Hunt is crooked businessman being investigated by Oliver’s ex-girlfriend Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) who believes Hunt has defrauded his customers. Oliver, now donning, his “Arrow” getup, stalks Hunt from the shadows, disposes of his bodyguards, and gives him an ultimatum – he has to put 40 million into an account that Oliver has set up by 10 pm. When of course this doesn’t happen Oliver/Arrow brazenly breaks into Hunt’s office disposing of more cannon fodder on the way and uses a specially equipped arrow to hack into Hunt’s computer siphoning the money into the account. Definitely the high point of the show.
As I stated earlier the pilot mostly focuses on Oliver, and his return and transformation into Arrow. This didn’t leave much for the supporting characters to do, but it did drop a few threads of what’s to come. Apparently there’s more to Oliver’s mother Moira than meets the eye, as it is revealed that she set up the kidnapping. She’s got a lady Macbeth thing going for her that I’m sure will be explored further in coming episodes. This should be fun to follow.
The Arrow Pilot was solid if not familiar opening to superhero show. The action scenes were well executed and surprisingly violent and I’m interested enough to see where the show goes in the weeks ahead.