Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Arrow, season 1 (2012-2013) ***

TV-14, 23 42-min. episodes
Creators: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg

Directors: David Nutter, David Barrett, Guy Norman Bee, Vincent Misiano, Michael Schultz, John Behring, David Grossman, Ken Fink, John Dahl, Eagle Egilsson, Nick Copus, Wendy Stanzler, Glen Winter, Michael Offer

Writers: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Moira Kirland, Lana Cho, Wendy Mericle, Ben Sokolowski, Geoff Johns, Beth Schwartz, Gabrielle Stanton, Jake Coburn, Drew Z. Greenberg, Bryan Q. Miller, Lindsey Allen

Starring: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne, Colin Salmon, John Barrowman, Emily Bett Rickards, Manu Bennett, Colton Haynes

Guest starring: Jamey Sheridan, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, Annie Ilnozeh, Kelly Hu, Ty Olsson, Emma Bell, Byron Mann, Roger Cross, Eugene Lipinski, Sebastian Dunn, Jeffery Robinson, Currie Graham, Kyle Schmidt, Jessica de Gouw, Jeffrey Nordling, Hiro Kanagawa, Christie Laing, Brian Markinson, Andrew Dunbar, Danny Nucci, Fraser Corbett, Michael Daingerfield, Ben Browder, Colin Lawrence, Janina Gavankar, Serge Houde, Seth Gabel, David Anders, Agam Darshi, Ona Grauer, Adrian Holmes, Celina Jade, James Callis, Chin Han, Jarod Joseph, Michael Rowe, Alex Kingston, Craig March, Duncan Ollerenshaw, Christopher Redman, Audrey Marie Anderson, Darren Dolynski, Nelson Leis, J. August Richards, Al Sapienza, Ray Galletti

“Arrow” turned out to be a more interesting television series than I expected. I never watched “Smallville”, but as a long time comic book fan, I often wish I had. So when “Arrow” came up as a CW replacement for the former DC Comics based series, I decided to give it a try. I did read the “Green Arrow” comic book when I collected comics as a teen.

I brought some knowledge of the “Arrow” universe as I began the series. Like “Smallville”, many liberties had been taken with who some of the characters are and how they fit together, but the broad strokes are basically the same. The producers take an almost non-superhero angle on the tale. The hero, Oliver Queen, never even takes an alternative name as his vigilante persona, although the police and public at large know him as The Hood, because of the green hood he wears as a disguise.

Many of the villains are the same as in the comic book, but again their roles are often shifted. Again most of them go by their regular identities rather than a super-villain alter ego, but some names familiar to comic book fans do work their way in, like Deadshot, The Huntress, and Firefly. Fans will also hear some familiar locations, like Central City and Bludhaven.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the nighttime soap opera approach much of this material boarders on, but it hooked me pretty well. It hasn’t been the smoothest ride. Some of the story elements are cookie cutter, some are just sloppy; but on the whole, the production improved a great deal as the season progressed. They do a good job capturing the less disciplined anger of Oliver Queen compared to say Bruce Wayne’s very controlled nature. Stephen Amell makes for a good protagonist. His soft-spoken nature contrasts with the typical boastful hero and reflects the life change the character has gone through before this story begins. I also like how his origin is explored and evolves on an ongoing basis through flashbacks.

The cast is very large which helps in taking the focus of the brooding hero, something we’ve all seen too much of by this point. The personailties all very different, which can’t always be said about the characters found in the comic books themselves.

The most impressive aspect of this entire first season, however, is the finale. Wow! The writers put together a killer finale. In many ways the developments in it are inevitable, but many come as great surprises. This is most certainly a series that will return to my DVR next year.

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