Arrow Series Premiere Review: Pretty Close to a Bullseye

Arrow S01E01: "Pilot"

In case my earlier recommendation wasn’t clear, I thought there was a lot to like about Arrow's pilot, and there are certainly a lot of reasons to keep watching, regardless of whether you’re familiar with the comics. But that’s really the test for Arrow: How do you strike a balance between bringing in television audiences that, very likely, have never even heard of the DC Comics character Green Arrow, while still making sure you draw in fans of the source material?

At least within the pilot, the show leaned a bit more toward bringing in new viewers. Sure, we saw Deathstroke’s mask on the island, and that'll get the comic fans excited and wondering where Slade Wilson is, but it was an easy touchstone to make. New audiences didn't know it was Deathstroke’s mask but will now keep an eye out for it, while comic fans are wondering where Slade Wilson is, and why he was on the island.

It's those kinds of subtle touches that the series should likely try to continue including, to keep both audiences happy. You don’t want to overwhelm or underserve either group, especially when you’re launching a series that has the potential for a broad appeal.

And as far as bringing those new viewers, the pilot served them well. Origin stories are always a pain to keep moving, but Arrow’s did so with confidence. It made quick work of the basic premise—Oliver Queen is a billionaire playboy who was stranded on an island for five years and presumed dead, and now he's back in Starling City—and then allowed him to establish himself as Arrow. Which he did, under the ruins of an old Queens Industry factory.

As Arrow, Oliver is hunting down folks from a list of names supplied by his father (before the guy committed suicide in front of him). The people on the list have wronged and corrupted Starling City, with the implied aid of the Queen family fortune.

But as Oliver, he returned to find his ex-girlfriend, Dinah Laurel Lance, working for legal aid and still angry with him; his best friend Tommy Merlyn missing out on all the good times they used to have; and his family in varying states of moving on (his mother, Moira) or struggling to keep it together (his sister, Thea).

So let’s get this out of the way, then: Yes, Arrow is borrowing heavily from the Christopher Nolan Batman films (especially Batman Begins) and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s historically consistent with Green Arrow as a character.

When Oliver Queen appeared in 1941, he was Batman in Robin Hood garb. Queen was a billionaire playboy who fought crime as a hobby after surviving on desert island. He had a ward, Roy Harper, who was also his sidekick, Speedy. He had an Arrowcar, an Arrowplane, an Arrowcave, and even an Arrow Signal. Sound familiar? The only thing that Ollie lacked was the pathos associated with Batman’s origin (no dead parents to spur him into a life of vigilantism, which isn't the case in Arrow, of course). Green Arrow has grown out of this shadow, however, to become his own character and hero.

That the producers and writers of Arrow would draw on the tone and character of the Nolan films unsurprising. I mean, how much can we gripe about this when Smallville turned to Oliver Queen during the Warner Bros. Bat-embargo? When Batman simply isn’t available, you turn to Green Arrow.

This is not to suggest that Arrow isn’t incorporating Green Arrow elements into the pilot (it is), but I wanted to head off at the pass a critique of Arrow’s pilot being a lazy Batman riff (even though it’s already been made by other reviewers). It creates, in a way, an odd sense of faithfulness to the character who, essentially, was brought back into comics to cash in on Batman’s success.

A lot of making this work, and of moving past the Batman comparisons, falls onto Stephen Amell’s shoulders (and abs), and he succeeds. I like that pre- and post-island Olivers sound and move differently from one another. It helps sell this notion of transformation, and when pre-island Oliver is forced to creep into post-island Oliver, there’s a distinct uncomfortableness, a forced-ness, to Amell’s performance that really helps ground the character.

The rest of the cast is good, too. Amell and Colin Donnell (Tommy) have a surprising amount of chemistry together for this just being the pilot, and both play well off each other in keeping their characters' respective secrets. I also really like the complexity that Amell has with Willa Holland (Thea), and Holland really hits nice notes of happiness and anger.

Katie Cassidy as Laurel was the biggest question mark for me going into the series. I only know her from Supernatural, and I was never a big fan of hers there. I think she’s better on Arrow, and she and Amell nailed the pilot's conflicting emotion sequences well (since that’s all they've been given to do so far, that’s good).

Between all these folks, not to mention Moira’s scheming, there are a lot of opportunities for dramatic conflict outside of the green hood, and in addition to the newcomers vs. comic fans issue, that’s the other challenge that Arrow will face. If it can find a balance between the arrow-whooshing and various interpersonal workings, the series could likely be something really good for The CW, something in line with Supernatural and Nikita.

The pilot also benefitted from David Nutter’s direction. He kept things moving, and brought deft touches, like Oliver’s cat-like movements compared to that thug’s inability to hit the broadside of a barn, which set the tone for a strong action series. But he also made sure that scenes were visually striking regardless of their level of action. Lingering shots of Tommy at the party or the post-abduction police conversation at the Queens’ mansion maintained dynamics between the characters.

There was some bad stuff too, of course. The voiceover work was sort of dreadful, both in Amell’s reading and the writing of it. It was overly expository, the worst kind of telling and not showing. I’m hoping it’ll be scaled back in future episodes (I’ve only seen the premiere so far), or at least improved in its deployment. The CGI, especially things like the yacht and the island, was pretty wretched. (I’ll let you decide if its better or worse than the amazingly bad boat scene in Ringer’s pilot).

But those are minor stumbles, and this was a pilot. It was an assured, confident first episode, and I’m really eager to see more from Arrow.



NOTES


– Anyone else pick up on Revenge vibes? Father’s guiding hand, voiceovers, a revenge box. I’m half-expecting Oliver to plant a darter fish camera somewhere (because a dart is kind of like an arrow).

– No corny trick arrows, it seems, which I’m fine with (they’d be a tad out of place on the show). But I’ll happily take functional trick arrows, like the hacking arrow that transfers the money from Hunt’s accounts to those involved in the lawsuit against him.

– Drakon likely should’ve been shorter. He seemed taller than Hunt. (Drakon’s defining characteristic in the comics is/was being short.)

– I groaned a little bit when we found out that Thea’s nickname is Speedy, but I see it more as a way to incorporate with Roy Harper’s drug storyline from the comics than that Thea will be sidekick Speedy anytime soon, hopefully for at least a season.

– I’ll talk more into how Arrow is drawing on previous Green Arrow stories as we progress (though I’ll try not to overdo it). But if you’d like to pick up the comics, the series is borrowing from Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow: Year One limited run series from 2007, particularly Oliver’s playboy ways (and they even named a character after Diggle!), and Mike Grell’s The Longbow Hunters from 1987, mostly in tone and Arrow’s costume.

– Yes, I’m aware I didn’t mention Justin Hartley. No, I never really watched Smallville (I’ll get around to it eventually). People have told me he was very good on it as Ollie. I believe them. Feel free to compare and contrast Hartley and Amell in the comments if you like.

Arrow "Pilot" Photos

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Well honestly speaking till I saw first episode, I thought this won't be the Green Arrow I got used to. Honestly speaking, he is not. However as titan4lizife mentioned, Amell is much more darker Green Arrow then Justin. Both of them are good and I can't really compare. I guess it is just time for darker Green Arrow on TV.
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Hartley, hands down, no comp. But, Hartley portrays a much lighter Green Arrow in keeping with Smallville's serious-at-times-but-generally-heart-warming vibe. Amell of course will portray a much darker Green Arrow in keeping with the elements of the new show.
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I liked the pilot and have just watched the second episode and I have to say I like it. It cannot take the place of Smallville, but it is good enough to watch every week. Plus I always liked the Green Arrow so I guess that gave it a leg up for me, at least. I like the cast as well and I thought both episodes was well written and acted and I liked the pace of both. I do miss Justin as Oliver Queen though heck lets just say it I miss Smallville soooooooooo much!!! I will continue to watch Arrow though....
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A little corny But i def. want to keep watching. I'll given them a chance. I DO want to know what happens next. I loved Justin Hartleys Oliver! I LOVE that (in smallville) him & Lex knew each other as kids, & he was picked on by oliver. Really showed what kind of guy he was B4. I also like that his parents were dead, & that Lexs dad had had them killed. Justin should have a guest spot in a later episode/season.

Let's face it, THATS why this shows op. He made everyone fall in love with Oliver Queen.
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Great pilot.. I actually like it a lot. The score (especially the Oliver/Green Arrow theme) is great tho.
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A little bit Corny..., but I like it.
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Finally decided to watch it. It's not the worst thing in existence. A solid 6.5 outta 10. I just feel as if I've seen this before. In a cinema, probably...



better than revolution at least, but I'm still kinda pissed at CW for killing TSC.



might watch the next episode just to give it a chance. The problem is maybe the cast . They're all rather 'blah', which is kinda surprising seeing as this is cw where they usually drown you in eye candy. All the actors come off as bored or tired. No pizzazz , no charisma, no intriguing personalities... Everything feels forced.
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I like the tone between the darkness of Batman and the "billionaire playboy" like Iron Man (and teh self-made weapons)

To Compare between Smallville Green Arrow and this.

Justin Hartley perfectly fits in the playin and young attitude of Smallville. I would have liked to see him as a "mature Arrow" but I'm fine with this I was hooked. And stay tune.



Let's hope best it just gettin interesstin.
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An incredibly attractive guy in leather pants....I declare this show a smash hit!
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What? No comment on Merlyn but you know Deathstroke? Tsk, and you had all that good stuff about being accurate to Green Arrow's history but ignored the Dark Archer reference....
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That was a purposeful omission on my part. Unlike Luthor, Meryln's a lesser known villain, and if folks were unaware of it, watching Tommy's descent into villainhood would be a pleasant surprise. Ah well.
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Well, thank you for the spoiler...
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I don't know Green Arrow from the comics but from Smallville so I didn't know what to expect from this pilot. But I confess that I loved the pilot. It's different from Smallville, more mature, darker, and the result is, in my opinion, much better. Changing Hartley was a really good decision finally. I liked Hartley's performance as Green Arrow in Smallville but I don't see him in Arrow. Amell has more credibility, strengh and appeal in the world they are creating in Arrow.

I will continue watching Arrow and I'm really expecting anxious the next episode!!! :)
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From watching Justice League I know a little about Green Arrow's story but not everything. So I have to ask did Ollie have a sister in the original comic? If so, whatever. But I don't like idea of Thea being Speedy, even if she's only meant to be an comparison to that character. I would much rather see Roy Harper. Hopefully he'll appear eventually. This is basically the only complaint I have for this show.



Other than that I really enjoyed it.
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Ollie's family is pretty much non-existent in the comics so far as I've been able to suss out. If they've appeared, they've never had much of an impact, and he's never had a sister.
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good start, better than i expected, even with a couple of changes that i did fully enjoy.



i miss justin as oliver queen, but i prefer amell as green arrow, stronger, faster and bigger, so its a little bit more believable, and the action scenes and violence are more mature and in tone with nolan's batman as pointed out in the article above.



the surrounding cast is the one that's probably going to be the deciding factor for me, difficult to reach the levels of smallville there, but i have high hopes
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Pilot was good comparing to others started this fall.

anyway waiting the Black Canary scenes ;)
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I was so disappointed about the show, not because it's no good but because I was sure that this was a Robin Hood show. . O.o
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That's fair! If you do want a Robin Hood show, the BBC finished a television version in '09. http://www.tv.com/shows/robin-hood/
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I liked the pilot a lot. Looked forward to this show for a long time. My anticipation was somewaht met. Only downside was I thought the producers put way too much in this pilot.



They could have slowed it down a little. I'm pretty sure they only focused on get the numbers (viewers) which makes sense but I hope it didn't affect future storylines. That is, t seems we'll be looking forward to new bad guys every episode and what not.



I wish it was more like Smallville where they focused on CK's character development until he finally became the hero, Superman. In Arrow everything happened in this pilot episode.



Let's hope they'll be a lot to look forward too which I think might happen like Deathstroke, Deadshot type characters popping up. Looking forward to the rest of the season. Hoping for the best.
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I was pretty okay with the pacing. As gets discussed way below in the thread, there seems to be a conscious effort to shift away from Smallville in a few ways (tone being the most obvious one here), but I also think that the show wanted to signal to people that the "no tights, no flight" equivalent was not in effect here, so they sped up getting Oliver into the costume and donning the quiver.
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loved it, loved it, loved it, thx CW. Really good cast & good lines.
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I don't know the comics and I'm not that much into superhero stuff, but it was a solid episode. The only thing I really struggle with is that I don't understand why he's doing this. He was a normal man and after five years on that island he was a superhero. So how did he learn to do it. And why did he decide to go after these people. Just because they ripped off his father? That would be very clichd. This is supposed to be a show about a superhero and not about the making of a superhero, so I'd really like to know why this man decided to hunt down people and play the superhero instead of just cherishing life a little more.
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They didn't rip off his father - the implications is that they were all guilty of hurting the city, and that Oliver's father was part of that ("I'm not the man you think I am").

His father died hoping Oliver would survive to "make things right", fixing his father's wrongdoings and helping the city.

I agree with the "where the h*ll did he learn to fight like that?" and "where did you say you learned Russian again?", but there are apparently secrets about his years on the island, some adressed in comments above (a character called Deathstroke, among other things) which will probably help explain his development from playboy through Survivor-winner to parkour-Ninja-Robin Hood. :)
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I hate series about comic book characters ... so I was unexpectedly glad to find that I enjoyed the pilot a lot! Let's see what they can give us next week.
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Considering how highly I was anticipating watching this, I find it odd that I waited as long as I have to finally watching it, which I just did. I liked it. Yes, the voiceover sucked. But that was maybe the only serious complaint I had about it. The only other complaint I can make at the moment is that Arrow's ability to dodge bullets is a little far-fetched -- particularly that scene in the warehouse after he was kidnapped. I mean, I know this is a show about a superhero -- of course things will be far-fetched -- but I could generally believe everything else about the show so far. Oliver's father pointing the gun slightly downwards as he shoots himself was pretty stupid too -- it should've been an easy thing to notice and fix. Overall though, I really liked it and it didn't really disappoint me at all.
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I unexpectedly enjoyed it, and that isn't just because of how hot Amell is. :D



Can't wait for more!
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I have never read any of the comics, so I can't make any comparisons, but I really liked the pilot. I liked that this show is darker and more serious than Smallville. And, at first I thought it was strange that the same network would cast a new Arrow, when they already had a popular one, but now that I see Stephen Amell and this pilot, I think they made the right choice. I really liked Justin Hartley on Smallville, but I don't think he could have pulled off this kind of darkness and depth with quite the same success. His talents lie in other areas dramatically. So far I'm intrigued and looking forward to exploring more of the mystery related to his father and learning about the various characters. Looking forward to next week!
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I liked the action sequences but thought that both the dialogue and acting was a bit too wooden and predictable, especially dialogue which was occasionally bad. If they get that part right, this could be good. I really like the more darker approach.



Wasn't that manor Lex Luthor's mansion too?
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Yes, that is indeed Hatley Castle in British Columbia. It's also Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. (Superheroes like castles.)
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I loved this episode but felt the little sister character is unnecessary.
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She's Speedy. You know, the side-kick...
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I liked the pilot, the characters seem interesting and the action sequences look stunning. I'm still a little unsure on Amell's Arrow at the moment but that's only because I've been so used to Hartley's performance of him along with a couple of animated versions. I'm interested to see where this goes and hope it does well enough to be renewed somewhere down the line.
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Excellent, even the return of some of my most loved shows this year weren't as good as this. I dont want to compare it to Smallville but its hard not too, i loved Smallville but this seems a lot darker than its predecessor which im sure will prove to be a good thing.



Looking forward to more good things. Best new show of 2012 thus far.
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I just watched this on my DVR and liked it more than I expected, surprisingly dark & violent. There is a female Speedy in the comics now so maybe they will skip over the Roy Harper sidekick (or he will name his partner after his kid sister as a joke).



Liked the Deathstroke mask.
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i really think this show will be a hit , i loved the pilot and i love the story and i love the show , i am sure lots of ppl share this feelings with me
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I was into this show right off the bat.. which is rare for me. I was gonna say that Last Resort was the best new show of the season, but now it's a toss-up between that and Arrow!
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I enjoyed this. Great potential, hope it keeps doing well.
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I agreed with most of what you said. Great that you picked up on the Batman origin vibes and the Revenge vibes. I also was comparing it to Smallville's Arrow. I really liked Justin Hartley's Arrow and story.



I didn't feel connected to this Arrow at all yet. I didn't feel his motivation. The action scenes are impressive. I'm hoping the next few episodes won't annoy me as much and that it comes into its own.



But yeah, sooooo Revenge like! I thought I heard the Revenge tune every time we see that list and when he crosses a name off. LOL!...and then his mom! Sooo Victoria! Hilarious. I really REALLY hope it comes into its own and stops borrowing from everything else. I see potential there.
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Good review! The pilot was pretty impressive and while Justin Hartley's Green Arrow from Smallville was good, though Stephan Amell's Green Arrow seems darker and for an older audience. The overall production was movie quality in my eyes. I can't wait for more!
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I also picked up on the Revenge parallels :).



It took me a bit to get over Green Arrow being played by someone other than Justin Hartley.



That pull-up bar setup was interesting.
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"I'll talk more into how Arrow is drawing on previous Green Arrow stories as we progress (though I'll try not to overdo it)."



Some things you can't "overdo". Please, don't hold back ...

BTW good review, good pilot also. Had quite some flaws(the father's homicide/suicide???The "subtle" USB-arrow) but for a pilot it was enjoyable and like the reviewer wrote the CW didn't make a travesty of the Green Arrow.
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Well, it's a TV site, so I'm going to be careful to strike a balance. Some folks likely won't care about its comic book inspirations or borrowings, and in some cases it'd be too easy to veer into potential spoiler territory depending on how the show follows stories. (Maybe save those more nitty-gritty discussions for the Arrow forums here...?)
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I have never read any of the comics, nor have I seen any cartoons or anything with Green Arrow in it (I have been watching Smallville, but I'm only in season 3 right now), and didn't really know much about the stories before going into this series. So, going into this series completely new to the character, I've got to say this show does have a lot of promise so far. Good action, and a central character with an interesting backstory (based on what we know of the past so far). There is definitely room for improvement in the future. Like you said, the voice-overs aren't really that great. Plus, while I am already interested in the character, in order to really get attached to Oliver's character, we'll need to see more about his past (especially about his time on the island, how he trained himself in various areas like fighting, hacking, and speaking Russian, and how he came up with the Green Arrow persona), as well as seeing how he develops as the season goes on (presumably, he will have to learn to control the anger he has over the people on the list, and realize that killing may not be the best way to deal with people). Either way, I do think this was a pretty good start to the series, and am looking forward to seeing how the series develops from here.
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The pilot episode might be nothing new save for one twist that I did not see coming, but it was so well done. I was truly impressed by what I saw. Being a Nolan fan, I'll take this kind of a dark and twisted show over most of the others any day.

PS: I hope Tim takes note of your review. This is how it should be done, especially for a genre show.
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I am a little surprised by all the negative comments. I actually liked it. Me having been a Batman fan since the age of 10, I also have a strong affection for Green Arrow. And I really think this pilot served him well. Of course, it aims at mainstream audience, so it is not as close to the comics as a fan might prefer. But I think it did a pretty good job at building suspence and I am looking forward to seeing more of Arrow, despite the drawbacks. What kind of shocked me was all the killing. Green Arrow doesn't kill, far as I "know" him. Maybe I am too much of a Batman fan, but I found there was far too much deadly action considering that Green Arrow prefers arrows as they allow him to "most important, leave you alive" (New 52).
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Ollie's life in the comics has been pretty bloody after the character was revamped a bit in the 80s by Mike Grell. Killing and maiming was fairly common, and just before the New 52, Ollie killed the villain that wiped out Star City (he was exiled from the city for those actions). So it's definitely not outside pre-established versions of the character.

That being said, it is a tad jarring, and it may be overplaying the desire to get some grit into the show to ease the cheesy idea of a guy running around in a hood, shooting arrows.

(I haven't read too much of the New 52 GA (maybe 3 issues). I'll likely circle back to them soon-ish.)
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Thanks for the reply; I appreciate the input. I am aware that a lot of characters have undergone changes, hence having a past involving more (or less) violence than the current incarnation lets assume. I hadn't been a regular Green Arrow reader before the New 52 (there are only so many hours in the day and reading more deeply into the older Green Arrow issues is still on my to do list). [Besides, I haven't yet decided if I actually will continue to read it regularly. There are a few things I don't seem to get hooked up on with New 52's Green Arrow.] I did know about some killing -- I mean, even Wonder Woman took lives -- but most of what I had read to far involved at least the strong will to spare as many lives as possible. Which was a will not to be identified in Arrow. On the other hand, it is not "Green Arrow" after all, isn't it. It is a TV series aiming at gathering as many viewers as possible. And from that point of view I think the show did a pretty good job.
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You're totally right about the desire not to take lives being present, especially after the brought the character back from the dead in the 2000s. Kevin Smith's take, while still violent(ish), wasn't massacre-inducing. (Admittedly, Grell was working in a line of DC Comics that would go onto become Vertigo, so it was intended for older raders.)

As for going back to read older GA comics, I'd look at the two titles I recommended in the bullets, and decide if you want more. (I've only been re-reading and reading for the first time lots of stuff for this assignment!)

I've had similar, vague issues with the New 52 GA. Did the first issue, then the issue where Ann Nocenti took over, and then issue #0. Something wasn't working, though I have no idea what.
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What do you think I did after reading the review... I bought The Longbow Hunters right away (realized I already got Year One but had forgotten about it). And moved up "Read classic GA issues" on top of my list.



For me the new GA doesn't quite work out as I feel he lacks that sort of social conscious I associate with GA. So far I feel they did a pretty bad job on pointing out his motivations. Currently we got that womanizing playboy billionaire running around chasing villains. Apart from that he does not seem to care much about anything including his company or city (why is it Seattle anyway...). And it is totally unclear why he's actually doing what he does. There doesn't seem to be a vision or intrinsic motivation. Basically they reanimated a pretty early GA. On the other hand, the new story arcs only covered about 3 to 4 issues each which might just not be enough time to actually model a character. I am willing to give them a little more time to pump some blood into him and make him more authentic. Or go for a catharsis if that's what they're after.
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Wait, this got a positive review? This? I am... stunned. Speaking as someone who's willing to overlook a lot to enjoy a good story and/or comic adaptation, I thought this was one of the worst things I'd seen broadcast since... well, Birds of Prey. The story felt like it was pieced together by people who had vague, distasteful impressions of comics, and the acting made melodrama look staid. I have never seen so many people try to out-swagger each other while awkwardly trying to force chemistry. The male and female leads epitomized the CW school of casting - get 'em pretty and get 'em young, and hope nobody notices they don't seem to understand the dialogue. Then five minutes into his life as a superhero, our protagonist snaps a man's neck... ah yes, truly, he is a hero. Then all effort to shy away from the comic... the setting of "Starling City," the silly green spray-painted mask, calling it just "Arrow"... It felt to me like the ultimate in cynical filmmaking, not born of a desire to tell a story, just to cash in on something popular, i.e. "Batman Begins", before the well dries up. Even then, I can't believe it made to air.
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There's been plenty of worse things broadcast than Arrow since Birds of Prey. (Work It? My Own Worst Enemy? FlashForward?)

I've laid out my case for a lot of what you mention above, so I won't rehash. Instead I'll address the cynicism aspect. I think you're completely correct in that the DC and Warner Bros. developed Arrow in an effort to develop some properties. They've had a heck of a time getting things off the ground, both in film and in television, and they do want Arrow to work for that reason. (And I'll note that we can totally say the same thing about Marvel and ABC developing a SHIELD TV series: Cashing in on the success of the Marvel franchises before that well dries up, so it's not just Arrow engaging in this behavior.)

I'm not a stranger to hitting shows for this. I did it with the recently relaunched TMNT series. The difference, however, is TMNT's first outing was kind of lousy and didn't really provide much of an identity or a sense of something new. Arrow may not be providing something new (though I've attempted to contextualize that impulse through a historical lens), but I at least have a sense of what the show is, and what it wants to achieve, narratively.

And this is more so about justifying my positive review than it is to defend the pilot (though I've done a bit of that as well). As I've said elsewhere here (or at least I thought I did), differing opinions help parse out our own feelings about media, and there's a lot of value in discussion about it. If you, for whatever reason, decide to keep watching, I hope you come back here to leave your thoughts.
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Flash Forward was much better than this in my opinion. My own worst enemy was pretty forgettable, but so far I haven't found Arrow more enjoyable.
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Didn't love it, but I liked it enough. It's Batman meets Smallville with just enough Jimmy Eats World thrown in (none). It's about as good as I could expect.

Oliver's normal, aside from all the PTSD. Basically, he's not normal for a little while, and then ridiculously stupid the next. He's good at what he does, and he thinks before he does it. It shouldn't be rare, but there it is. I even like the actor. The Smallville guy bugged me, and I'm glad he's not back.

That's about it, as I can't complain. Interesting twist with the mom. I just knew it'd be the black guy, and now I have to do some soul searching, so there's that.
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I loved it! It was a really strong pilot that had me jumping in impatience for the next one. When I'm going "Eeeeee!" at the idea of having to wait a week for the next episode it's always a good sign in my book. I'm so curious to find out what all happened on that island for the 5 years he was stuck there. I'm sure he wasn't alone. I'm sure there's a LOT to know. And also to find out what all his dad told him before offing himself on that boat. Does he know his mother is evil? Who'll get to know about his alter ego? What will they be doing with the Diggle character? And how funny was it when he choked out the poor unexpecting Diggle! Abs (and they are truly fantastic!) and awesome parkour stunts aside, I am loving this show! I can't wait for the next!
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I liked the episode, but there are a few hitches I'm having trouble with:

1) In the rubber boat, his father put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. At that time the gun was pointing downwards. The bullet would have excited his head and make a hole in the rubber.

2) When he was chasing the guy with the gun, the cat like moves was nice to see. That I can believe he picked up at the island. But he was a playboy, he would not have much knowledge of computers and electronics. Yet, he was able to shoot an arrow with some kind of device at that office and then taking 40 million from a bank account??? Where did he get that knowledge??

3) he got shot in the office, we showed the bullet, but where was he hit in? Is he wearing a bullet-proof vest?
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Hehe, I noticed the oddness of that shot too. I guess you can make the argument that the gun was a very small caliber and the bullet just lodged in his head, but at THAT close range, I doubt it. It should have gone through and into the boat. I thought for sure, when he pulled the gun on himself and had that suicidal look, that he'd put the gun under his chin and shoot upwards... but no. The writers apparently didn't care to make that scene believable, which was pretty easy to do.
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1. I forgot about that when I wrote my list of complaints. That was really lazy of them. How hard would it have been for the dad to sit on the edge of the boat to make sure that his body would end up in the water, or at least aim *up*?

2. Agreed. This was really weird. They shouldn't have him do these things until he's found a nerd helper.

3. I just assumed that the answer is yes. What annoyed me was that he seemed to lose consciousness. He clearly wasn't hit in the head.
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Excellent review, even though I have to say I didn't like the pilot as much as the reviewer. But a review which at least tries to find the good aspects that attract fans can lift our spirits and encourage us to look past the show's flaws and better try to appreciate its qualities that were missed the first time we've seen the episode.

I can say I enjoyed it enough to be willing to keep watching, though I'm not totally convinced yet. Maybe this has to do with the fact I tried Revenge and Pretty Little Liars and decided those were not for me, and as some people have been saying, there's something in common between Arrow and Revenge.

Another issue I had was that what Batman Begins took over an hour to establish (the hero's tortured origin), in Arrow this was shown in a few minutes and that was not enough for us to feel the character's anguish. I mean, we know he went through hell on that island, but it definitely didn't feel like five years. But I guess as the show moves along, we'll get a much better perception of that with the flashbacks we'll see.

I agree completely Amell's acting performance (before-the-island Oliver vs.after-the-island Oliver) is perfect. The fact they didn't cast Justin Hartley to begin with is one of the first things I agreed on.

Tiny silly details. When Oliver turns the abandoned factory into his super hero secret headquarters, they show some strategic scenes only (again considering all they had to cover in just 42 minutes). But the first thing I noticed when Oliver entered the old building was, "Gosh, this place is filthy." Then I imagined either it would take him a year to clean it, or he would call his servants to do it, leaving with him just the cool physical tasks, which was working on his abs and shooting evil tennis balls. I try to picture Oliver sweeping and mopping, but that would be such an undignified chore for a super hero. Oh, and where might Oliver have learned parkour so well on a deserted island? But yeah, I understand perfectly this is a TV show and it's not supposed to show realistic aspects of life.

All in all, I'm optimistic it'll grow on me and I'll get even more hooked into Arrow's adventures.

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I suddenly want a cleaning montage instead of a training montage...
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Yeah, that would be cool... For Adult Swim.
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Also WHERE DID HE LEARN RUSSIAN!!?!?!? His friend mentioned it at the dinner table and there was no mention of it again?!? Maybe he found a little russian phrase book also washed up on the island?
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If Lost has taught us anything (besides 'don't get your hopes up'), it's that anything can be on an island. Maybe there were books. If so, he'd definitely have had time to read them.
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An even bigger question for me is: where did he learn computer hacking?!?
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I have a feeling that was meant to be unanswered for the time being. It was meant to poke at the fact that we really have no idea what exactly happened during the 5 year stay on the island.
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Actually, right now we have no reason to conclude that he spent 5 years on that one island. All we really know is that he was FOUND on that island 5 years later. Where he spent the 5 years is still a mystery - he could have traveled, set up a network, done a Bruce Wayne-style self-exile/training program, and then arranged to be found when he was ready. No one has claimed that the first people to find him in 5 years were the Chinese fishermen.
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While that might be true the show at least tried to suggest that he had spent all 5 years on that island. However, we also do not know if he did so all alone. Maybe he held some poker sessions with Deathstroke, you never know.
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Maybe even more than that, it was supposed to indicate that no-one really knew the capabilities of Oliver Queen in the first place. Obviously, the only two people really having had any trust in him were his father and the maid. I think these hints are supposed to show that the potential had been resting in him for a long time, it just got turned like inside-out thanks to being a castaway on that island.
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I thought it was OK, but I expected more after the positive comments it got from the tv.com staff. Honestly, I'm not sure what makes me say that it was OK. There were a lot more details that I didn't like than details I liked. I guess I liked some of the fights, and the pilot also managed to make me curious about what will happen next. But maybe that was *only* because it's a superhero show.

The scenes right at the beginning put me off right away. Bad special effects, shaky cam, and what was wrong with all the colors? Then a voiceover that he didn't really have a cool enough voice to do well.

Not sure I like any of the actors. I guess time will tell.

One thing I really didn't like was the scene where he chased down the last of the kidnappers. The chase had several moments where he would have been shot. I haven't seen anyone survive such a spray of bullets since the pilot of Terra Nova. I don't like it when it's *that* obvious.

The driver would have heard him leave the car. The bad guys would have seen the arrow on the wall, especially since it had blinking LEDs on it, LOL.

Did he really lose consciousness when a bullet hit the vest? Or did he just decide to rest with his eyes closed for a while? What exactly did he do after he jumped out of the window to end up on that line? Does he really have to be a douche to push the ex girlfriend away?
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Excellent review, good points.

I am not going to compare the show to anything, or I will start to sound old. I enjoyed the episode.

It is a good sign when I find the 'not so good' stuff funny ... like the voice over from Amell, or the slightlly stiff acting here and there, or the gratuotis shirtless scenes ... lol

I am conflicted on the rushing things ... but its a pilot. I'll buy it .. let's see where it will take us.
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Great review Noel, i'm really liking that you Do follow up the comments on your articles and engage with commenters i wish more writers here did that.



About the show... liked it a lot, now lets seen how it holds next week and from there.
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Thanks, and I certainly try to follow-up as I can. (Habit I developed from self-run blogs to encourage people to keep coming back.) It helps that I just have the ability and time to do that, and other writers may not depending on other obligations.
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I really liked it, and from the first minute too. Already more so than Smallville because of the darker vibes and a more serious treatment of various issues. Amell seems like a fine choice for the main role, the supporting cast is good, the action sequences didn't leave anything to be desired.



The pilot has shown potential, so I intend to keep tuning in.
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it somewhat pains me to give the CW a pat on the back, but I genuinely enjoyed this pilot. It did seem to rush a few things too quickly, mainly his entire lair setup. There was no real sense of how long he spent demolishing underneath that warehouse and magically setting up an entire computer array thats jacked into the grid, but it seemed like it was merely an afternoon. Plus where did the magic wifi-hacking arrow come from? Kudos for the Twilight knock tho, loved that.
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it somewhat pains me to give the CW a pat on the back, but I genuinely enjoyed this pilot. It did seem to rush a few things too quickly, mainly his entire lair setup. There was no real sense of how long he spent demolishing underneath that warehouse and magically setting up an entire computer array thats jacked into the grid, but it seemed like it was merely an afternoon. Plus where did the magic wifi-hacking arrow come from? Kudos for the Twilight knock tho, loved that.
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I really was impressed with the pilot, definitely a darker grittier superhero series or should I say vigilante. The flashbacks to the island and how he survived is what I'm looking forward to see the most. Safe to say I'm sticking around to see what happens next.
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