Recently, I had an opportunity to watch the new CW pilot Arrow, based on DC Comics character Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. Now, I know many of you probably weren’t interested in this show anyway (Lord knows I wasn’t), but since this baby is set to premiere at San Diego Comic Con, I thought I should give a little bit of advice to those of you who are planning to attend the pilot screening: Do something else. Anything else. Please. You’ll be saving yourself from mental distress and you’ll almost certainly be doing something more valuable and productive with your time if you go to a different panel, head to the convention floor, or go out, get drunk, and get run over by a pedicab. I know the latter is true because I have officially experienced both of these things and can say the rickshaw incident is a hell of a better story than the one the creators of Arrow are going to try and tell you.
Why is Arrow so terrible? Well, it’s not because there is no relation between the show and the comic (though there isn’t). It’s unwatchable because it is one of the most derivative, boring pilots I have ever sat down to watch. It’s predictable, cliched, and not even the actors seem all that invested in trying to sell it as realistic, even within their universe. Chocked full of melodramatic over-acting and uninspired dialogue. Which, I hear, is typical for a CW show, so if that’s the audience it’s trying to reach, then cool, I guess. It’s still derivative schlock with nothing interesting to add. If it’s trying to reach a larger audience comic audience? Good luck with that, since, as I’ve already mentioned, it has nothing to do with the comic.
What’s that? You want more specific reasons? Oh, all right. Henceforth, Spoilers abound!
Attractive grouping, too bad they all miss the target
Let’s begin with the fact that its wasting the brand. Now, I am a huge fan of alternative histories and revamping mythology, but there are bigger and better stories to be told with the Emerald Archer than this one; and this could have very easily just been a show called “Hood” about a modern Robin Hood (which, yes, Oliver Queen is), and would have likely pissed less people off. But they didn’t go that route. So, instead, we have a show about a 20-something year old playboy (which I know he is now, and I admit I much preferred midlife crisis, crotchety Queen) who, after a three hour booze cruise turned into a five year desert island adventure, decides to change his ways and become a green hooded vigilante. Every other character is new or just a cute reference to the comic.
For example, we have “Laurel” Lance (as in Dinah Laurel Lance) who is a lawyer (not a florist and/or vigilante in her own right) and Queen’s ex-girlfriend before he accidentally got her sister killed because he was cheating on Laurel with her (but she is totally willing to give him a second chance, ’cause that’s like her purpose in this show). The one thing that they get right about Laurel is that her dad is a cop. Next, is Tommy Merlyn, Ollie’s best friend, who is apparently seeing Laurel on the sly (though she totally want to break it off. Seriously). If you read Green Arrow, you’ll know that Merlyn is Oliver’s archnemesis. You may also remember that they did the exact same thing in Smallville, where Clark and Lex were depicted BFFs. Third, there is no Roy Harper, rather we have Oliver’s sister Thea, who Ollie calls “Speedy” because she used to chase him around as a kid, also she’s a drug user, so she and Roy have that in common, too (poor Roy will never live that one issue down). Last we have John Diggle, a character who has no basis in the comics, but is likely named after the writer of Green Arrow: Year One, Andy Diggle.
Also, Queen’s mother, Moira, is still alive and kicking and she’s probably evil, or in some way his nemesis. Because it’s a show geared towards tweens, you see, and tweens only understand conflict if it’s parental conflict or between your best friend who will eventually turn into your frenemy before they eventually decide they want you dead. Or something. I don’t know, I didn’t understand 11-15 year olds when I was one, let alone now.
Nevertheless, they all live in Starling City (Yes, Starling. I don’t understand the change either), which is apparently a small metropolis where absolutely no one reads the newspaper. At least not the corrupt CEOs who own half the town, as they seemingly have no idea who Oliver Queen is. You know, the richest kid in town, who was probably mentioned in the papers every day he was alive, every week he was missing, and without a doubt front page news when he returned. This is perhaps a bad idea, as his return aligned perfectly with the appearance of Starling’s new hero: The Guy in The Green Hood.
Another thing I didn’t quite understand about the show is why it isn’t a spin-off of Smallville. Although I never really watched the show, I do recall there being episodes with Green Arrow (and even Black Canary!). I think at one point, Ollie may have even been a mainstay on the show. I’m certainly curious as to why the network didn’t do a proper spin-off when the character already has some familiarity with their audience.
I realize that it very well may not have been the direction in which the creators of the show wanted to go. But if that’s the case, again I ask why use Green Arrow? His fan base isn’t so substantial, nor is he all that familiar to those outside of comics and the DCAU. Additionally, if you’re going to call the show Arrow rather than naming it after the branded character you’ve already put stake in (presumably because of some kind of superstition towards the audience’s distaste for “green” comic book characters, e.g., Green Lantern, Green Hornet), then, again, a retooled telling of Robin Hood would have been better. There’s a lot less baggage using Robin Hood, since the myth has been put through the recycle bin enough times that it doesn’t matter how close it resembles any of the older tales, so long as there’s a dude named Robin (or Robby, for the CW crowd), who has a couple of buddies with names like Will and John, and a hot chick named Marian (or any name beginning with the letter “M”).
Now, I will give the show one thing: Stephen Amell actually looks like he knows what he’s doing with that bow, unlike some live action comicbook archers (I’m looking at you, Renner). However, the distinct lack of trick arrows (aside from one hacker arrow that was nifty) did not go unnoticed. Trick arrows are GA’s thing. They’re his gimmick. They are what make him fun. Using standard arrows and actually having him kill bad guys is (1) very un-DC Comics and (2) not really his thing. Sure, Oliver has killed people in the past, but the circumstances are never so tenuous as Grunt #51 is blocking my path. But, hey, if TV wants to be more hardcore than comics, why not? Oh, because it’s not the same character. Right.
It was the longest 42 minutes I’ve spent watching television this year. Every fade out that signaled where commercials will be placed, I not so secretly hoped would lead to the credits, but alas. When the credits did roll, it was too late, because I had already wasted the better part of an hour on the tripe.
I suppose there is more that could be said about this show, but I feel at nearly 1500 words, you all get my point. The characters are paper thin tween-age archetypes typical of the CW, with little to no resemblance to their comic book counter parts. The drama is superficial, rehashed storylines from soap operas that don’t seem to have any baring on how the characters interact with each other. We all know what’s going to happen, and it’s just painful to watch the actors try to act surprised when the obvious twists and turns are “revealed” to them.
So please, ladies and gentlemen, learn from my mistake and find something better to do with your time. To ensure you don’t go, I’ll even give you the frame of the one thing that actually brought a small smile to my lips:
But if you don’t get it, maybe you should watch the show … nah.