December Bonus Reviews: Arrow series 1

Arrow is an ongoing American TV series that started airing in October 2012. I never really bothered with it because, frankly, I don’t like Oliver Queen as a character. I liked the Green Arrow when the  mantle was taken by Connor Hawke, but that didn’t last all that long. The thing is, Oliver been has been largely portrayed as a kind of clueless douchebag who chronically treats those close to him badly. To make matters worse, there’s rarely any acknowledgement of it. Rather like Mister Fantastic from Marvel comics. Then again, this is a live action adaptation and those aren’t known for keeping the comic characterisation. Maybe they’ll do a first for live action works and replace it with something better.

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Story:

After spending five years stranded on an island, Oliver Queen is found alive and well but changed in many ways. Most importantly, he left a spoiled rich boy and he returns a man with a mission. In his deceased father’s notebook is a list of names. The names of people who are causing harm to Starling city. Ollie decides to make it his mission to seek out the people listed in the book and give them a choice, they can redeem themselves or he’ll put an arrow into them.

Which leads me to one of the big problems with this series. Our hero, the guy we’re supposed to root for, is quite literally a serial murderer. And he doesn’t just kill these people who are causing problems. A lot of his victims are their employees who are just doing their jobs and trying to provide for their families. In several  cases he doesn’t even kill the employer but gives them a chance to save themselves by confessing their crimes or returning what they took. After putting an arrow through the hearts of their employees who, as far as we know, haven’t done anything wrong.  And he’s a total hypocrite about it too. This series also follows the grand live action tradition of mocking things from the comics that were better than what they did with the live action version. In this case, they make fun of the name “Green Arrow.” So, what exactly do they replace it with? They call him the Hood. Isn’t Hood a synonym for thug? And also a really shitty name for your hero? While we’re at  it, let’s call Batman “The Cowl”,  The  Green Lantern “the Ring” and Wonder Woman “The Tiara.

But let’s move on to the biggest problem with the series. A lot of it is a long slog of melodramatic soap opera stuff. What do I mean by that? Well, we spend a lot of time with love triangles, family problems and romantic entanglements. All of which is presented in the most melodramatic way possible. To make matters worse, these overly melodramatic, boring segments are the bulk of the series. Within the average forty two minute episode, thirty minutes will be that. The other twelve will be flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island, action sequences and the Thug planning his attacks.

That being said, the series has some decent  moments. The stuff with “the reckoning” is all right. The  idea of having Oliver reconnect with his family could have been better executed, but it’s not a bad idea.

Characters:

I’ll  give the series credit, they pretty much nailed everything that makes Oliver Queen an unlikable prick. They did use some good characters as well. Black Canary, Huntress, Deathstroke, Deadshot and Arsenal are all in this. There’s just one problem. They didn’t bring any of the traits that make them complex or interesting characters. So, what we get are the character names attached to one-dimensional tropes. For most of them they don’t even bother with the code names. Knowing their naming sense, Black Canary will be called the Fishnets, Deathstroke will be called the Mask and Arsenal will be called the Domino mask. Unless they go for the horrendously bad new 52 version in which case he’ll be called the Trucker hat. Because writing those characters with the traits that would make them interesting was too difficult. Frankly, the only two characters in this I kind of liked were Felicity, the computer nerd who consistently has awkward moments and Malcolm Merlyn.

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Visuals:

To their credit, there are some really nice sets in this series. They also picked some fantastic locations, particularly for the flashback scenes. That being said, the action sequences are pretty mediocre. They feel less natural and more heavily choreographed. Plus, they really don’t last very long.

Acting and Music:

To their credit, the actors are clearly trying. The trouble is that most of the characters are pretty flat and the highly melodramatic tone of the series as a whole results in performances that aren’t very good. The music, composed by Blake Neely, is okay.

Final Thoughts:

And that’s Arrow, series  1. It’s not very good. More melodramatic soap opera than super hero narrative and with every good character from the comics who appears in the series bearing only the most superficial resemblance to themselves and average at best action sequences, it’s a bit of a slog. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Next week’s bonus review will be over Hyperion. Until  then, have an enjoyable holiday season with minimal family drama whether you celebrate Hearth’s Warming, Hogswatch, the Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Christmas, or any other holiday.

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