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When it comes to the fare on The CW, we are a long way removed from talking about shows in terms of quality. Instead, a much better evaluation is whether they are first, entertaining, and second, fit the brand. Hit the mark on those and The CW has done its development job.
That’s a harder equation to square up in a critic’s brain, however, since a lot of CW shows are comically bad. But the network periodically gets the balance just right (see: Nikita), which is a blessing because dropping the same hammer time and time again gets a little less fun each time.
Thankfully, the network’s latest drama, Arrow, proves to be both on-brand and entertaining — if you turn off the snark detector and downplay the need for plausibility or logic. But hey, it seems that’s what makes The CW tick, at least from a distance, so going all-in on Arrow is easier than expected.
You don’t have to be a DC Comics nut to realize Arrow is essentially Green Arrow, though some liberties have been taken with the overall story (as is common in comic book adaptations). You can argue it out among yourselves whether Arrow nails the details or just the spirit of Green Arrow, but the fact is, not that many people know of the superhero avenger anyway, so nevermind all that.
Arrow is the story of “billionaire playboy” Oliver Queen, who lived his life in debauchery until his father’s yacht had a fatal crash and Oliver was lost on a brutal island for five years. While there, he learned to survive and worked a lot on his abs. Most important, he learned how to make and shoot arrows (no clue yet as to where he got his awesome bow) plus develop some cat-quick jumping skills that he mixes in with all kinds of non-gun-related badassery.
Finally rescued, he comes home with a new mission — which honestly is a little vague. He wants to “save his city” — the fictional Starling City. His family’s money had a lot to do with the downfall of the place, and there’s some as-yet-unexplained mythology that his dad passed down to him via a book with names in it. Just a guess from the pilot, but if your name is in that book, Arrow is going to put the hurt on you.
All of this fits perfectly with The CW’s love of superheroes and hunks. Arrow stars Stephen Amell, and he’s got the abs of steel, the good-looking mug and athletic ability. And he fires off any number of arrows of varying makes. Some kill you, others don’t. Some blow up. Others penetrate concrete and stick there. Have a 7-year-old boy make a list of awesome arrows, and they are pretty much in this show.
The show comes from executive producers Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern, Brothers & Sisters), Marc Guggenheim (FlashForward, Eli Stone), Andrew Kreisberg (Warehouse 13, The Vampire Diaries) and David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Smallville, Supernatural). Guggenheim and Kreisberg wrote the pilot, and Nutter directed it.
Now, the show has a plot, too. Oliver had a girlfriend named Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), but the naughty party boy took Laurel’s equally hot sister on the fatal yacht trip. And she died. So, once he surfaces — a changed person — Laurel’s not that pleased to see him. Neither is her dad, Starling City detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). And now Detective Lance is tracking the vigilante justice of this Arrow person and, well, yeah. Meanwhile, Oliver’s mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson), has remarried — to one of his father’s good friends. That’s the universal indicator of hidden secrets.
But intricate plot development is not that important at The CW. As long as Arrow has action, arrows, fighting, flirting and a brewing romance, it’s all good.
Airdate: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 (The CW)
Cast: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Paul Blackthorne
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