Arrow Season 1 – Review

With recent shows like Lost coming to the forefront of our screens, the premise of being stranded on a desert island is an overly-recognised one. But what happens if you end up returning to civilisation five years afterwards?

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Arrow looks at this idea through the perspective of millionaire playboy Oliver Queen, who before being ‘lost’ was oblivious to the politics of his family and his father’s participation in some dangerous circles. The island changes Oliver, however, as he develops into a super-fit, shockingly quick and precise archer. A boat crash kills Oliver’s lover Sarah, and his father, after surviving, sacrifices himself to allow Oliver to live. Upon doing so, Oliver discovers a secret notebook in his father’s pocket with a list of rich power-players from Starling City. Oliver’s father tells him to “avenge the city” and the wrongs done to them by the people whose names are in the notebook. Consequently, Oliver Queen becomes Green Arrow, or ‘The Hood’; an avenger of the people of Starling City who aims to bring justice to those who have wronged them.

Alongside this storyline we are treated to various Lost-style flashbacks of Oliver’s time on the island which help us to piece together how he went from selfish and rich to an altruistic hero. These are at times more gripping than the standard storyline which can be frustrating, but generally by the end of each episode you have a denser concept of Oliver’s character, and have seen some epic archery scenes, which make it worth it.

The other key characters in the series provide a contrasting mix of interest and disinterest. Certainly the sub-plot involving Oliver’s ex-girlfriend Laurel and his best friend Tommy is cliché and generally not worth the screen time it is given, generating only a minimal viewer connection with the characters by the series’ end.

In contrast though, Oliver’s partners in avenging including his former bodyguard John Diggle and IT technician Felicity provide a viewer attachment to the show and facilitate a deeper connection to the protagonist as well as some well needed comic relief.

Moreover, despite an insecure start to the season as a character who appears to just be an extra from Gossip Girl in the wrong TV show, Oliver’s sister Thea finally bites into some meatier storylines mid-season which endear us to her character and at last provide us with some more enthralling sub-plots than the teenage tantrums we saw from her earlier.

Arrow gets off to a shaky start with over-used ideas and each episode appearing to be a weird cross-over of CSI: New York, Lost and Robin Hood. By mid-season, the show eases well into its niche and, if you manage to get that far, finally clicks with viewers. For superhero fans that want more than a movie, Arrow provides the perfect champion, marrying him with a distinctive ability and rawness that we aren’t used to seeing on screen. We also get a further developed character and plot arc with the progression of a whole TV season compared to a film. Most prominently though, Arrow provides a superhero grittiness that we don’t get with glossy Hollywood films, and this is ultimately what helps the show hit the bulls eye by the end of the season.

Arrow Season One is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 23rd 2013.

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