Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Arrow, season 2 (2013-2014) ***½

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

Directors: John Behring, Nick Copus, Glen Winter, Eagle Egilsson, Wendy Stanzler, Guy Bee, Bethany Rooney, Michael Schultz, Rob Hardy, Larry Teng, Jesse Warn, Soug Aarniokoski

Writers: Greg Berlanti, Marc Giggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Ben Sokolowski, Beth Schwartz, Keto Shimizu, Wendy Mericle, Jake Coburn, Drew Z. Greenberg, Geoff Johns, Bryan Q. Miller, A.C. Bradley, Holly Harold

Starring: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Emily Bett Rickards, Colton Haynes, Manu Bennett, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorn, Caity Lotz

Guest starring: Celina Jade, Summer Glau, Colin Salmon, Dylan Bruce, Adrian Holmes, Derek Hamilton, Kelly Hu, Michael Jai White, Kevin Alejandro, Bethany Snow, Roger Cross, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Michael Eklund, Audrey Marie Anderson, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Navid Negahban, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Graham Shields, Seth Gabel, John Barrowman, Michael Rowe, Grant Gustin, Jesse Hutch, Colin Donnell, Olivia Cheng, Danny Dworkis, Ron Selmour, Sean Maher, Ana Mercedes, Annie Ilonzeh, Nicholas Lea, James Kidnie, Katrina Law, Alex Kingston, Robert Knepper, Curtis Caravaggio, Artine Brown, James Pizzinato, David Nykl, Ben Browder, Eugene Lipinski, Gholem Qadir, Jessica De Gouw, Jeffrey Nordling, Chelah Horsdal, Sean Rogerson, Danielle Panabaker, Doug Chapman, Michael Daingerfield, Anna Hopkins, Roark Critchlow

With all of the cinematic talk about how Marvel conquered the box office through The Avengers movies, the X-Men franchise, now a 5th Spider-Man in theaters, even the hardly heard of superhero group Guardians of the Galaxy promises to be a smash hit later this year, DC Comics has not fared as well cinematically. However, with three new properties making their television debuts next year, including “Gotham”, “The Flash”, and “Constantine”, and with the past success of “Smallville”, it seems DC is conquering the TV set. You need not look any further than “Arrow” season 2 to know why.

One of my friends described this show as terribly directed, terribly acted, and terribly written, yet went on to explain how he loved it better than many other shows that are exemplary in those categories. I would agree with his assessment save for one point. The writing isn’t bad, just the dialogue. The writing is what makes it all work. I think they’d be willing to try just about anything to keep this from becoming a show where you know what’s going to happen next.

They set you up. You know some things that are going to happen. Like, you know that they don’t hire Summer Glau (of “Firefly” and “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles” fame) to play your average corporate raider who turns out getting along with Oliver Queen in the business that keeps him in trick arrows. In fact, with Glau in the role, it’s a pretty good bet that she’s going to suit up and kick some ass at some point in time or another. What is completely unpredictable is that she’s going to be shot dead before that happens only to suit up and cause Ollie some costumed trouble anyway.

Sure you might be able to figure that at some point Oliver is going to be left penniless and his team is going to have to figure out how to remain in the game without his family’s millions, but did you expect that development to come with a samurai sword that would take a key character’s life a few weeks before the finale? And of course we all want the Ollie/Felicity thing to happen so bad that we all took the bait when he finally confessed his love for her, but… not so fast. Damn you, melodrama!

That’s the way comic books work, and that why this show works. It’s heavy on the action and even heavier on the melodrama. I’m beginning to suspect that the acting isn’t really all that bad. I think they know very well what they’re doing. Season 2 was so good; season 3 can only be better. Huh? It makes more sense than it sounds. They laid it on so think this season; they are just bound to keep it up.

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