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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Arrow 1x1 - "Pilot"

Of course, I was going to watch Arrow. And make the obligatory joke about it lasting ten seasons like Smallville did, like: I'll only watch ten seasons of Arrow, no more, no less.

The good news is that Arrow is good. It's a more mature, more action-oriented and violent show than Smallville was. It's also rather dense. Surprisingly dense. There's a lot going on.

The basics: After five years alone on a deserted island in the North China Sea (called "Purgatory" in Chinese), Oliver Queen is rescued and returned to his home in Starling City. His father, the sister of his girlfriend (Dinah) Laurel Lance, and an employee of his father all died when their yacht "Queen's Gambit" sank during a storm. The island changed Oliver, Ivy League dropout and rich boy womanizer, in ways we're slowly discovering. For one, he's cut, chiseled and jacked, he has awesome survival and martial arts skills, he can speak Russian now, and he's a crack shot with a bow and arrow.

Oliver returns to a Starling City populated by tons of recurring characters, all of whom are interrelated to him in some fashion, many living under his mother's roof.

Let's see, there's Oliver's mother Moira Queen, who remarried (Hamlet-style) to Walter Steele and together, they run Queen Industrials.

There's Oliver's seventeen year old sister Thea, who he used to call "Speedy", but is now secretly a cokehead.

Also always around is Oliver's best friend Tommy Merlyn, who is secretly seeing Laurel Lance, now an attorney, who used to be Oliver's girlfriend until Oliver ran away with her sister Sarah, who died when the boat sank. You get all that?

Well, there's more, like police detective Quentin Lance who doesn't trust Oliver Queen and is the father of Laurel Lance and the aforementioned deceased Sarah Lance.

Geez, and we haven't even gotten to the villain of the episode, who Arrow targets and steals $40-million dollars from.

Oliver Queen came back from the island with a mission and a book his father gave him with a list of names on it. Before his father committed suicide, he told Oliver he was a bad man and Starling City is full of bad men, but his job was to go back and make everything right. Nowhere did he say, "dress up like Robin Hood and shoot arrows at them." Oliver came up with that on his own.

Before the hour is up, Oliver and Tommy will have been abducted and interrogated by masked men, Oliver will have saved them both while claiming they were rescued by a mysterious hooded figure, Oliver will have a bodyguard assigned to him he has to repeatedly dodge before outright beating up, Tommy will have thrown Oliver a bitchin' welcome back party with strippers and booze and tons of hotties, the Arrow will have gotten into a bloody battle in the villain's skyscraper and killed a bunch of his henchmen before stealing $40 million from him, and there'd be a shocking revelation that Moira Queen herself had Oliver and Tommy abducted because she wants to know what he knows, i.e. what her late husband told their son. That's a lot to fire at the audience in one hour.

Of course, there are things that don't immediately make sense, like the sheer number of arrows Arrow leaves behind at a crime scene. A lot of physical evidence. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out Oliver Queen is Arrow. After all, there was no Arrow until Oliver Queen reappeared in Starling City, and he's not exactly hiding his newfound skills and abilities. Also, Oliver Queen took over an abandoned Queen Industrial factory and turned it into a high tech Arrow HQ all by himself without anyone noticing. Plus, it seems weird he lives in his mommy's mansion with his little sister and creepy stepfather. Maybe Oliver Queen ought to move out, get his own pad?

Stephen Amell is a fine, rugged and physically impressive Oliver Queen. Colin Donnell is an intriguing foil for him as Tommy Merlyn. Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance (Black Canary in the comics) and Willa Holland as Thea Queen are appealing female leads. Fun to see Paul Blackthrone and Roger Cross, both alumni of 24, show up as police detectives. Annie Ilonzeh, one of last year's Charlie's Angels, also shows up as Laurel's co-worker.

So. Arrow. Guess I'll settle in. It'll be a long ten seasons...