Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrow Premiere Review- Gritty & Pretty

I have a serious soft spot in my heart for all archers (see my blog about it), and I have been thrilled waiting for the premiere of the CW series Arrow.   After viewing, here's my recap and review.  If you don't want spoilers, don't read this!

The look of this show feels a bit new for the CW.  While it has the pretty people (girls with legs like toothpicks…), I feel like it succeeded in getting the gritty setting it was aiming for.  It's also somewhat different in it's cast of characters. These are grown people, or at least people old enough to be working.  We've left high school well behind.  (One character has completed law school.) The beginning was strong, and I adored the flaming arrow right at the beginning.  Arrows- they can be hand crafted and multipurposeful in ways you never expected.  Establish this fact as early as possible.

Initial shot on the island.
It was awesome.
There was a slightly corny voice over about protecting his city, which seemed somewhat random.  I know we were supposed to get the city thing early, but it still seemed random to me. 

As soon as he was back (and the voice over stopped) I realized I was going to love him. Whether he’s a good actor or just seemed to fit the part for me, I don’t know, but I loved it.  He seemed very still while talking to people, and it seemed like all of his actions were very deliberate.  This was an awesome contrast to the flashbacks where his emotions were in every move he made.  I was preset to love him, so I may be biased, but I thought he was great.

The introduction of the characters was great.  I thought it was subtle enough that I didn’t feel like I was getting a character list, but you got the info about who was who and basic relationships very quickly.  His mom was seemed like a push-over who married a guy who seriously came off like an evil accent bad guy.   We didn’t really find out if the guy was bad, and I hope we defy expectations and he turns out all right.  (Obviously his mother defied expectations, so it could happen!)

"You were with me the whole time."
Oliver to his sister Thea.
I loved his face when he first heard his sister.  He just seemed so happy!  I know happy moments will be few and far between for him, and I am going to soak it up when I can get it.  She was also the first one that I heard call him Ollie.  I am thrilled I can keep calling him that.  I would have anyway, but it seems more accurate if at least someone on the show called him that, too.  I’m not a comic reader, so all I know of Ollie comes from Smallville and a bit of Wikipedia reading.  Seeing his mother and his sister around defies what I know from Smallville, so I plan to do some digging.  Even though I don’t know what happens in the comics, I appreciate how different adaptations use the original source material.

As the boat is sinking and he can''t
find Sarah

The moment I was totally sold on the series was when we saw Sarah die.  The way he responded tore me apart.  I nearly started crying, and I don’t cry very easily.  (No actual tears were shed, but it was closer than I'm comfortable with.) I really appreciated the use of the flashbacks.   Other than the conversations about the city with his dad (which still seemed a little forced), I felt like the flashbacks flowed in perfectly with the current story.  

When he gets kidnapped and questioned about what his dad may have confided in him, he did have a couple of corny lines before going completely superhero on them.  Of course he’s able to inexplicably dodge machine gun bullets while taking people out, but what superhero can’t?  Here, in this first action sequence, we set up what makes Arrow different than Smallville. A guy is trying to get away and Ollie gets hold of him.  He asks to be let go, Ollie says no one can know his secret (is his secret these awesome fighting skills?), and he snaps the guy’s neck. It’s kind of brutal.  Obviously working with a different moral line than some other crusaders.

Ollie's stash of toys

At this point, all I wanted was to watch him shoot arrows.  The general fighting is okay, but it's the archery that does it for me.  After some recent let downs (that would be you Henry Cavill- why didn’t you use that magic bow in The Immortals for more than thirty seconds!), I was hoping for something fulfilling.  Right when I was ready to demand arrows, arrows appear-  Enter training scene!  (I admit it- it was my favorite.)  Making arrows and things, being hot, working out shirtless, that moment when he reverently takes out the bow.  I don’t even care where he got this bow he loves so much.  It was great.

Classic Green Arrow moment

He then proceeds to be very Green Arrow like.  (I love when he escapes his new body guard, and it should be noted that I like his body guard. I bet they become friends!) Ollie stages a big fancy party to disguise his break-in next door.  He robs from the rich and gives it back to the poor.

Trying to Survive
Nearing the end of the episode, we cut to a pivotal flashback.  I couldn’t believe this scene in the boat with his dad.  To me, this sets up something entirely different in vibe than any other CW show.  If you didn’t watch it, go watch it yourself and let me know your thoughts.

I liked the Dinah reveal (Laurel's middle name, and more casual audiences might be aware of Dinah's connection to the Black Canary character).   I want to know more about Tommy.  Are we supposed to feel like he’s a bit sketchy?  I’m hoping he reforms or becomes less ambiguous.  At the same time, I like that I can’t pin him down.  I just want his ambiguity to be deliberate, and not because he’s an undefined character.   

Final thoughts include that this could fair well with the Revenge crowd.  Wrongs done by the generation before you, list of corrupt people to take out one by one… (a real physical list that you cross names out out, like Emily). There’s even an island (cue Count of Monte Cristo feel).  I really enjoyed this as a premiere, and in my opinion the CW (or WB/UPN) is not a network known for its stellar first episodes.  The show has to be carried by its lead, and I think this actor can do it.  I absolutely plan to tune in next week. 

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen
Stay Shiny!

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