The Watch List: Arrow

By Joe Strange

There are a LOT of superheroes about nowadays, and I don’t mean in the Kick Ass 2, inspired vigilantism way, I mean there’s a lot of superheroes on our screens.

Obviously. Geez.

Between DC and Marvel there are over a dozen planned or executed individual properties. From Tony Stark to Bruce Wayne, from Thor to The Flash, the characters that we grew up watching cartoons of are now appearing in a more mature, sometimes serious get up.

Arrow is one such show, and is based on DC’s version of Hawkeye The Green Arrow from the DC universe. For those who don’t know, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was shipwrecked on an isolated island for 5 years, where he had to learn to survive, along with realising that his father wasn’t quite who he thought he was. Once he’s rescued he comes back and dons a green hood to save his city from corruption.

It sounds fairly standard, and when I was recommended this show (by our very own Sara Da Silva I might add) I was dubious. But she didn’t steer me wrong with Graceland so I had to trust her judgement.

And boy howdie was I happy when my scepticism was thwarted. Arrow does a lot of things well, the narratives of Oliver’s actions in Starling City and his events on the Island thread very well together, often you’re wanting more of the flashbacks and sometimes it’s the other way round, it’s a really great example of addictive and varied narrative.

Arrow’s greatest asset is the fact that it doesn’t reveal too much too soon, everything is played out with patience, you’ll learn what you need to know when you need to know it, and not a moment sooner.

Amell’s Oliver can be a little rigid, and at first you wonder how he could have been a hedonistic playboy with a back as straight as that, but obviously five years fighting for your life on an island makes you into a new man, and once you recognise how dutiful and committed to the cause Oliver is, you accept that yes, he’s not got as much to laugh about any more. It’s also good to know that Amell does a lot of his own stunts in the show, and considering the sort of stuff Oliver gets up to, that’s epic.

Luckily the side characters make up for the Arrow’s lack of initial, obvious humour. John Diggle (David Ramsey) who plays Oliver’s bodyguard, initially butts heads with his new boss, but soon they bond and become a most excellent team, he also acts as a foil to Queen’s vigilantism, often reminding him that he’s not on the right side of the law, but then he’s willing to help out for the greater good anyway.

The other third of season 1’s team Arrow is Felicity Smoak, played by the adorable Emily Bett Rickards, who’s computer savy, socially awkward and incredibly kind. She’s kind of the nice side of the internet in a human. She helps to humanise Oliver, and bring him back around when he loses sight of his own personal issues in light of his larger aim.

Now the first season is very much a monster of the week affair, with a few over arching story lines which culminate in a fantastic finale, but the second season is a different beast. A more involved, intertwining beast. Team Arrow grows quite substantially as more characters become aware of Oliver’s exploits and his past comes back in season 2, but to say any more would be spoilerific.

Arrow is really easy watching, it’s funny, incredibly badass and has an addictive narrative thanks to its ‘softly softly catchee monkey’ approach. But it’s also tense in a lot of places, unlike Superman, Oliver isn’t invincible, and I mean, he’s awesome, but he’s not Batman, so you do fear for his safety as well. The threat is always there, and that’s excellent.

The show uses the rogues gallery of DC really well, with some excellent twists on old villains, and it’s spawned a Flash spinoff, which I cannot wait for.

Arrow Season 3 kicks off in October, so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up and become addicted.


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