Arrow's on Target

The CW (makers of “Smallville”) have repackaged the Green Arrow as a hard-edged vigilante drama series.

And it’s pretty darn good.

The Stars

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / Arrow
Katie Cassidy as Dinah Laurel Lance
Willa Holland as Thea Queen
Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen
Colin Salmon as Walter Steele
Paul Blackthorne as Det. Quentin Lance
Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn
David Ramsey as John Diggle
Jamey Sheridan as Robert Queen

The History

The Green Arrow – a sort of modern-day Robin Hood, complete with longbow and gadget-laden trick arrows – was introduced in the 1960s.

This was partly to relieve the pressure on Batman, who was felt to be appearing in too many of DC Comics’ publications.

Like Batman’s flip side, Bruce Wayne, Green Arrow Oliver Queen was portrayed as a then millionaire, now billionaire playboy, whose flighty public persona hid dark secrets, and a propensity for vigilante violence.

Both characters were a counterpoint to the square-cut, squeaky clean Clark Kent / Superman – with whom they were often at odds.

The CW highlighted this relationship in “Smallville”, where Justin Hartley played Oliver Queen / Green Arrow, for much of the latter half of the show’s 10-year run.

Within the separate (from the mainstream of DC Comics) universe of “Smallville”, the show emphasized the wise-cracking, smart aleck aspects of the Green Arrow – which mirrored the character’s persona in the mainstream DC Comics of the 1980s and early 1990s.

With “Arrow”, the CW has created another pocket universe.

But there, the comparisons end.

Justin Hartley’s “Smallville” Green Arrow was like the Roger Moore version of James Bond. Or, at best, Pierce Brosnan.

Stephen Amell’s “Arrow” is Daniel Craig.

The Premise

The yacht carrying billionaire tycoon Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan), his son Oliver (Stephen Amell), and Sarah Lance, younger sister of Oliver’s “steady” girlfriend, Laurel, goes down in a heavy storm.

Sarah Lance is swept to her death, from a cabin onboard ship, but the Queens make it to a life raft, along with another survivor.

Before dying (okay; dispatching the third survivor, then shooting himself in the head), Robert Queen charges his son to be strong, and survive – to right the wrongs that Robert Queen did, in life.

And, to bring to justice the dangerous, rich and powerful individuals holding their beloved home of Starling City to ransom.

Which pretty much sets the tone, for the show.

The raft dumps Oliver on a savage, uncharted island where, for five years, he develops a prodigious set of skills, simply to survive and adapt.

Rescued by a fishing vessel which spots his massive signal fire, Oliver returns to Starling City.

To find his mother married to his father’s number two man at the company, his sister on drugs, his girlfriend cursing him for having a fling with her sister, then letting her die…

And his mission to clean up the city, not so cut and dried.

The Trailer

Courtesy of YouTube:

The Verdict

This show has great potential, and it’s beginning to realize some of it, already.

I’ve compared Stephen Amell in the title role to Daniel Craig, as 007, and the similarities are there:

The stocky build, and craggy features.
The intense character.
The air of gritty realism.

There’s less gloss on show here, than in “Smallville”.

Some bone-crunching and occasionally dazzling martial arts.

And when Arrow (He does wear green – dark, of course – and uses the color on his gadgets) shoots his trademarks at machine-gun wielding thugs, people actually die.

There are nods already, to the Green Arrow’s retinue of supporting characters from DC Comics.

Like Willa Holland, as Oliver Queen’s illicit drug-taking kid sister, Thea. Nicknamed Speedy.

Which, incidentally, was the codename given to the Green Arrow’s young sidekicks, in the comics.

Among whom was Mia Dearden, a reformed (and presumably drug-taking) prostitute, who became the first HIV-positive character ever to appear in mainstream comics.

There’s scope here for a brother and sister double-act, with archery as rehab for the wayward Thea, then.

Katie Cassidy, as Dinah Laurel Lance is yet to sport fishnet tights and a domino mask like her DC Comics (and “Smallville”) counterpart, the Black Canary.

As a trial lawyer in Arrow, Laurel (less emphasis on the Dinah, here) is required to talk a lot. But there’s no evidence that she can shatter concrete, with her voice.

Early days, yet.

I imagine there could be some nods in this direction, as the series evolves.

Which I hope it does.

“Arrow” is quality entertainment, and well worth a look, if you get the chance.

8 and a half, out of 10.

That’s it, for this one.