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"My name is Oliver Queen."
After their super run with Smallville, The CW has gone back to the DC Comics well for a new action-adventure series called Arrow. Based on the character of Oliver Queen, the hero formerly known as Green Arrow, the network and creators are shaking off some of the more fantastical elements of the source material to not scare away viewers. Just like its predecessor's 'no tights, no flights' policy, Arrow seems to have adopted its own motto in WWTDKD? That's 'What Would The Dark Knight Do?' for those who hadn't already guessed. Yep, you can thank Christopher Nolan for the gritty and realistic approach to adapting comic books being the blueprint for just about every property because they think striking that tone will magically make their attempt as successful. The question is, does it work for Arrow?
"For five years I've had only one thought. One goal. Survive. Survive and one day return home."
Oh, the answer? Well, it's early and despite a lot of kinks, the "Pilot" certainly has a lot going for it including, and perhaps most importantly, great action sequences. It's also worth stating at the beginning that it's not really my concern how closely the show sticks to the comic book mythology, only how successful Arrow is as a show week to week. You won't hear me complain about the story being set in Starling City instead of Star City, even though it's an arbitrary and stupid change, because that doesn't really affect the quality of the program. And forget the city, we open on Oliver Queen on the island shooting his rescue arrow (title! I yelled this a lot while watching) after a cool bit of POV lost boy parkour. It was also nice to see Queen looking shaggy in the green hood (okay, so I care about the comic) even though the voiceover comes across as over written and a bit stiff. Other than that, Stephen Amell delivers a pretty good performance as the lead and, again perhaps most importantly, he more than sells the physical stuff.
"We both believed that Robert, like you, was, uh, gone."
Five years on 'Purgatory Island' has turned Oliver Queen into a weapon and in case you didn't get that he used to lead a lascivious lifestyle before being marooned, the newscast will fill you in on the playboy turned vigilante's past. In fact, every time you need a bit of exposition, there's usually a TV nearby detailing the main characters public and personal business. And if not, the writers provide us with people like the Doctor to tell us, sorry, his Mother (Susanna Thompson) about his severely damaged body and how he's a changed man. Soon after we're introduced to Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), one of is father's former friends who Oliver completely ignores, his 17 year old sister Thea (Willa Holland) and Raisa (Kathleen Gati), the maid who appears to have had a hand in raising our hero. And if you hadn't been slammed with enough new characters in the span of five minutes, we soon meet the some of the major players, like Katie Cassidy's single female lawyer Laurel Lance.
"We don't need to go outside the law to find justice."
There's a bit of banter between the two ladies that introduces us to Laurel and lets us know that she's Arrow version of Rachel Dawes, fighting the good fight at a legal aid office and taking on dubious (actually stuck on one of the cork-boards) characters like this week's baddie, big time businessman Adam Hunt (Brian Markinson). Any holes in her story are again filled in by the trusty news show, with the nearby television sharing that her sister happened to die in the accident that made Oliver a cast away. Yep. Cue the flashback (and voiceover) where we meet Mr. Queen (Jamey Sheridan) as he tries to warn his son of the perils of screwing your girlfriend's sister but Oliver is brought back to reality by the arrival of his old best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) also known as the comic relief (you don't mention LOST to your cast awayed companion). You can tell how front heavy the "Pilot" episode was by looking at, well, how front heavy this recap is but don't worry, after Tommy there's only like, two or three more characters to meet.
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