Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pilot Review: Arrow

Arrow (CW)
Premiered October 10 at 8pm

After spending ten years on Superman with “Smallville,” and even including a Green Arrow character for the final four, the CW is revisiting the DC Comics superhero again. This Oliver Queen doesn’t feel much like the most recent one, portrayed by Justin Hartley, who will soon be back on the network in “Emily Owens M.D.” Stephen Amell, who was highly entertaining on the final season of “Hung” as dim-witted male prostitute Jason, is far less enthusiastic and charismatic than Hartley, making for a more subdued and serious playboy turned caped crusader. Since this show is purely about Oliver and his alter ago, there’s plenty of family drama to be had, starting with his deceased father, played by Jamey Sheridan, currently appearing as the Vice President on “Homeland.” Another CW regular, Katie Cassidy, is on tap to play his former love interest who, no surprise, had a fling with his best friend, and Willa Holland does sister duty again after “The O.C.” Everything seems extremely interconnected, as his mother married her husband’s partner and the police investigator with whom Oliver most frequently comes into contact, portrayed by Paul Blackthorne of “24” and “The Dresden Files,” just happens to be the vindictive father of the young woman killed in the violent shipwreck which Oliver survived. There’s nothing utterly original or spectacular about this particular rendition, but it could prove both moody and soapy enough to be worthwhile in the long run. The dialogue just needs a little improvement and the plotlines could use some polishing.

How will it work as a series? Living a double life as a billionaire and as a masked superhero makes for a great setup that’s worked many times before. The Green Arrow universe is full of colorful characters, and finding out that Oliver’s own mother had him abducted so that she could learn what his father told him before he died implies that there’s a whole lot of dramatic ground to be covered here.
How long will it last? This is just the hit that the CW could use right about now, and given that its last superhero series lasted ten series, I suspect that this one will be a success too. The pilot ratings were the highest for a series debut since the start of “The Vampire Diaries,” and performed better in this timeslot than anything else in the past three years. If these numbers remain anywhere near this good, a renewal won’t take long.

Pilot grade: B-

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