So I decided to bring back an idea that I used to do on an old blog of mine, whereby I give my impressions on a brand new series (or returning series) I've seen and see what I think about it. Last night I saw the opening episode of the superhero series Arrow, created by the makers of Smallvile and based on the character of Green Arrow.
I have to be honest, the Green Arrow is kind a superhero that passed me by over the years and so I know very little about him - other than he's a Robin Hood type hero that's also a part (or has been part) of the Justice League. So it's a refreshing change checking out a superhero that I have little knowledge about.
The opening episode details our hero Oliver Queen (the Green Arrow), having been shipwrecked on an island for five years. During that time he had been training himself and learning the art of archery. Why? Because his dad (who was on the boat with him when it was destroyed in the storm) admitted to being involved in some dodgy dealings and made his son promise to make up for his mistakes. So Queen has been training himself to peak physical condition and marksmanship so that when he is rescued (and he is by a passing fisher boat), he can return to Starling City to kick butt and save it from the baddies that are dragging it under!
If the familiar set up reminds you too much of Batman, you'll be forgiven for that. Indeed, the original character of Green Arrow was originally written as a counterpart to Batman, although these days with much more Left-Wing political beliefs. Indeed, they are both very similar - both are rich and both use technology and their own physical strength to fight the baddies. The one main difference I've noticed is that Batman tends not to kill his enemies, whereas Green Arrow seems to have little hesitation killing or maiming his enemies - which I'm not too fond of, but that's just me.
On returning to Starling City, Queen has to catch up with his life as much as possible, and learning that things have moved on. His mother has remarried, his sister, nicknamed Speedy (who was Green Arrow's apprentice) is now a party going drug addict (a reference to the comics when the original Speedy was addicted to Heroin), and his old girlfriend Dinah "Laurel" Lance (the alter ego of Black Canary in the comics, but it's not currently clear whether she has her powers in this TV show) has never forgiven Oliver for sleeping with her sister - who was on the ship with him when it died. So, it seems that Oliver Queen has a lot of catching up to do - but right now he's more concerned with making the criminal underworld pay.
Another great supporting character is Detective Quentin Lance (played by British actor Paul Blackthorne of 24 and The Dresden Files). He is the father of Dinah and blames Oliver Queen for the death of his daughter. He could be considered the antagonist of the series as he's determined to find out who this "hooded archer" is.
I was half expecting this episode to go through the usual "hero origin" story and go through all the slog of the hero learning to use his powe and go into great depth as to why he became a hero - but in actual fact the first episode pretty much went past all that and went straight into the action. It gave a brief introduction into the character of Queen, his backstory and his motivation - not to mention the shock of returning to his old life and seeing how much has moved on - and then left the last 30 minutes or so to have some pretty decent action. Overall, I thought the pace was spot on. The story was pretty tight and has plenty of room for expansion throughout the series - plus there was a twist at the end that did grab my attention. The characters were well done and I could believe that they were real. I'm interested to see how the Oliver/Speedy storyline pans out as I think that could make for some pretty cool stories - maybe how her drug additiction could effect her.
The action was pretty cool as well and the fight sequences were well correographed. My only real problems with this episode is that it suffered a little bit with what I called "Chris Nolan Batman Syndrome", in that it tried to be a little too dark and mature to keep it in line with those films. The problem with that is that sometimes, the dialogue was too cheesy and hammy in places so this kinda ruined the dark edge. Nevertheless, the action scenes more than make up for it.
On the whole, I think this has a lot of potential and hopefully can only get better. Not only that, but I've heard that other characters from the DC universe will be making appearences in this series. In fact, at the beginning, I noticed there was a referrence to the long standing enemy of the Teen Titans, Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke the Terminator. Could HE be making an appearence? That would be awesome if so!
WOULD I RECOMMEND? Definately! Arrow I think has come out at the right time, seeing as the superhero genre is gradually gaining strength and seems to be more popular now than ever before. Even if you don't know the comics, there is still plenty in here that would keep you interested. This is one series I will keep an eye on closely and hopefully, it will only get better as it goes on!