Green Arrow returned to the CW network last week in an incarnation
different from the version of the hero who appeared in Smallville.
From where I sat on the couch, that was an advantage. I had bailed
on Smallville after a few seasons.
Arrow is the name of this new series. I liked it better after my
first viewing than I did after my second, but I still thought it’s
worth watching for a few more episodes.
I’m going to go over that pilot episode pretty thoroughly, so, if
you haven’t watched it yet, you should heed this...
Stephen Arnell does a fine job as the title hero. In the pilot, he
was convincing as the party boy, as a shocked young man caught in
a disaster and situation for which he was never prepared, as a grim
determined survivor, as an outsider reconnecting to the world, as
a driven vigilante and as a faux-party boy. That’s more range than
I expect from the CW and its usual 20-something angst.
The pilot episode tells the viewer everything he or she will ever
need to know about what led Oliver Queen to become the Green Arrow.
Which is my way of saying we don’t need to see more flashbacks to
the island. He had to develop mad skills to survive on the island,
he has the mission given to him by his father and he’s adapted his
survival skills to fulfill that mission. You could retell all the
pertinent parts of the origin in under a minute in the opening of
the show. Much as Person of Interest does.
Oliver’s mission? His father did bad things with other really bad
people. Starling City is filled with corruption and much worse as
a result of this. Daddy gave Ollie a book with the names of those
bad guys and, with more or less his dying breath, asked his son to
set things right.
The Queen family stuff is interesting with clear story potential.
Mommy Moira [Susanna Thompson] gives off a coldness even when she
is seeing the son she thought dead for the first time. I’m amazed
this didn’t tip me off to her larger role in things. Thompson did
a nice job of disguising that under the shock any mother would feel
given her son’s return from the dead and the obvious toll it took
Walter Steele [Colin Salmon, who I liked very much in Hex and Keen
Eddie] is the business partner of the late Robert Queen and, as it
turns out, the new husband of Moira. I pegged him for a bad guy at
first. Now I’m not so sure. Another good performance.
As for the rest of the Queen “family”...
Housekeeper Raisa [Kathleen Gati] has always seen Ollie as a better
man than he was. Though “housekeeper as substitute parent” is an
old bit, their scenes together were good and I’m hoping we see more
Sister Thea [Willa Holland] is a rebellious teen dabbling with drug
use. Her nickname is “Speedy” and, yeah, that made me groan, too.
I’m taking a “wait and see” position on this character.
Best friend Tommy Merlyn [Colin Donnell] makes me teeth hurt. He’s
another slimy party boy and probably a future villain. We’ve seen
his like in just about every 20-something angst drama from the CW.
He might be a convenient character to push stories forward, but I
could do without him.
Cut to love interest Dinah Laurel Lance [Katie Cassidy], a pivotal
character who needs work, as does the actress playing her. She’s
Ollie’s ex-girlfriend. She’s a tough-as-nails legal aid attorney.
Ollie was cheating on her with her sis, who died in the shipwreck
that stranded him on that island. She’s been knocking boots with
Tommy Merlyn. The defendant in her most current lawsuit is one of
the shady fat cats in the late Queen Senior’s notebook. That’s a
lot to hang on one character and Cassidy isn’t totally successful
in pulling it off.
In the “one character too many” department, Detective Quentin Lance
[Paul Blackthorne] is Laurel’s dad and blames Ollie for his younger
daughter’s death. This multiple family angst could get in the way
of good stories.
Tommy drives Ollie to see Laurel. Ollie tries to apologize to his
ex-girlfriend. She tells him to rot in Hell. Which is pretty much
what Ollie expected.
What Ollie didn’t expect was that masked criminals would kidnap him
and Tommy and murder an innocent shopkeeper in cold blood. Ollie
sees the murder, which I only mention because I’ll mention it again
in a bit.
The gunmen want to know what Ollie’s dad told him. Ollie doesn’t
break, but he does break his bonds and proceeds to mop up the dirty
abandoned warehouse floor with his assailants. Tommy doesn’t see
any of this clearly and is barely conscious.
Ollie displays his mad skills by dropping two of the kidnappers in
seconds. He then uses his even madder parkour skills to pursue the
leader - the guy who killed the shopkeeper - and to dodge automatic
weapons fire. Ollie’s good.
Ollie catches the leader, fights him, beats him and then snaps the
guy’s neck. Ollie can’t let anyone know what he can do, not if he
is going to fulfill his mission.
This will horrify my good friend Bob Ingersoll, but I don’t have a
problem with this. Ollie saw the kidnapper kill an innocent man.
Besides the secrecy issue, Ollie has no reason to believe the guy
won’t come after him again or that the guy won’t sic others on him,
other assailants who will be better prepared for Ollie’s crazy mad
skills. In those circumstance, I’d do the same thing. Bob calls
it murder, I call it fact-based self-defense.
Ollie researches Adam Hunt, the defendant in Laurel’s suit. He’s
a bad man who swindled a lot of people out of a lot of money and,
Starling City being what it is, has bought off enough people that
he’ll likely get away with it. He surrounds himself with murderous
bodyguards. Oh, as we know them, men doomed to get the crap beat
out of them by the hero. And, the hero being Green Arrow and all,
some of them will be sporting non-sexual wood in the form of real
Momma Queen hires ex-military guy John Diggle [David Ramsey] to be
Ollie’s bodyguard and chauffeur. Ollie ditches him easily once and
then knocks out at a party so that he can go off and do his Green
Arrow stuff. Diggle’s poor performance should get him fired, but
the character has potential as a future Arrow ally. Anything else
just makes the character useless.
Ollie sets up his Green Arrow HQ in his father’s abandoned factory,
then trains like a son of a bitch...which he might well be if his
mom is the villain which she seems to be at the conclusion of this
pilot episode. Good training scene, but, again, not something I‘ll
need to see over and over again.
Hunt orders his men to take care of Laurel and I’m pretty sure he
isn’t concerned about her comfort. Arrow shows up and demands that
Hunt put $40 million into a special account. Mayhem ensues and a
few bad guys get arrow-wood.
Hunt doesn’t plan to cough up the dough. He fortifies his office
building with mercenaries.
Across the street, Tommy is throwing a “welcome back” party for our
boy Ollie. There’s a scene with Ollie stealing drugs from his kid
sister and ruining her evening. Good on him. There’s a scene in
which he acts like a shit to drive Laurel away and, he hopes, away
from the dangers of his new life. So-so.
Action time. Green Arrow invades Hunt’s offices, kicks major ass,
seems to miss Hunt with an arrow, gets a flesh wound, escapes just
as the police come breaking into the place. Hunt thinks he’s won
again. Until the next day.
That arrow that missed Hunt? It’s a gizmo that stole $40 million of
Hunt’s money. Ollie then distributed the money to the people Hunt
swindled. Nice Robin Hood touch, though, if Bob Ingersoll is still
talking to me, I must ask him what would be the legal consequences
of the victims keeping money that just suddenly showed up in their
Ollie crosses Hunt’s name out of the notebook, which surprised me,
If Hunt was the nasty player he seemed to be, why would taking $40
million from him be enough? That’s just slightly more than DC and
Time-Warner have spent trying to screw over Jerry Siegel’s family.
To have the kind of clout and protection Hunt seems to have, Hunt
would have to have a lot more money/power to his name.
NOTE TO SELF: Pitch story about Ollie going after crooked publisher
who cheats creators. It’s a sure sale.
Two more scenes worth noting. Tommy discusses knocking boots with
Laurel and it’s a big old “eww” from start to finish. Tommy should
find Jesus, join a monastery and get the heck out of this series.
Especially since Green Arrow was watching Laurel and Tommy as this
scene went down. Kinda stalker there, Arrow.
The final scene. A guy tells his “boss” that the police won’t find
out anything about who tried to abduct Ollie. That boss turns out
to be Mama Queen. She nixes a second attempt; there are other ways
to find out what Ollie knows.
Final thoughts on the pilot:
Solid story that flowed well. Good writing that only fell down in
the “eww” moments and when Blackthorne was snacking on the scenery.
Good to very good acting. Good action sequences. All of which is
enough to bring me back for the next episode.
Arrow has potential if the show runners keep the stories strong and
minimize the tired old CW angst.
Since I wrote today’s blog before I saw the second episode, I’ll be
back tomorrow with my thoughts on that second episode.
© 2012 Tony Isabella