Smallville: The Sequel – A Review of the Arrow Season Premiere
STARRING: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland
NETWORK: The CW
AIR DATE: October 10, 2012
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
For all intents and purposes, Arrow should really be called Smallville: The Sequel.
That’s not what it is, mind you. But it’s what Warner Bros., The CW, DC Entertainment, and a good portion of the fans want it to be. They’re right to want that. Smallville reached heights very few “comic book TV shows” ever have, and with 10 seasons, had more longevity than each and every one of its predecessors. It was, dare I say, arguably the only non-Christopher Nolan project that took the DC Comics brand and consistently made it relevant to mainstream audiences. Whether you liked the show or not, it’s hard to argue the significance of Smallville.
Sadly, as time passes it seems more and more like Smallville was a case of lightning in a bottle. Warner Bros. has tried numerous times to duplicate the success of that show with other DC Comics characters, with the results being underwhelming. Birds of Prey fizzled out in one season, and pilots for shows based on Aquaman and Wonder Woman were shot but not picked up. A Dick Grayson centered series was in development at one point, but the plug was pulled. Arrow, based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, is the next in line. By virtue of making it to air, it’s already paved more ground than most of its predecessors.
After spending five years marooned on an island, young billionaire playboy Oliver Queen returns to his hometown of Starling City a changed man. The boating accident that left him stranded also took the life of his father Robert, the owner of Queen Subsidiaries. Before his death, Oliver’s father confessed his transgressions to his son. Now, our main character finds himself concerned more with social justice as opposed to booze and babes. He picks up a bow and arrow, dons a green hood, and takes to the streets hoping to root out corruption in his city. But it seems that he may have enemies closer than he thinks…
At first look, Arrow is a show that has potential. But its initial execution suffers from corny dialogue, and as a result, some corny acting. There are some really cheesy lines in this pilot. We hear lines like: ”The face I see in the mirror is a stranger,” and ”I didn’t realize you wanted to sleep with my mother, Walter.” But my personal favorite was when Oliver (in civilian clothes) is asked by a group of thugs what his father told him before he died. Oliver’s response: “He told me I’m going to kill you.” *facepalm* The actors aren’t completely blameless here. But let’s be honest, could you make those lines sound good?
I was pretty excited when I heard that one of the developers on this show was Andrew Kreisberg, who in addition to working on Fringe and Warehouse 13, also had a highly underrated run on the Green Arrow/Black Canary monthly title. His attachment to this series gives me hope that it can succeed, and with luck some of this dialogue stuff is simply the show working the kinks out before we get into the swing of things.
Naturally, much of the show’s success hinges on Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen. Like a lot of other CW actors, Amell is basically a catalog model. But as far as catalog models go, he’s pretty bad ass. He seems to do a lot of his own stunts, which impressed me. The show gives us sort of a Rocky meets Batman Beings training montage in which Amell is doing a lot of physical stuff, which is very well done. He also is able to successfully project a certain maturity beyond his years, which is necessary for this series. The casting of Katie Cassidy as Laurel (who DC fans know will later become Black Canary) is solid for the same reasons. Willa Holland, who will presumably be teaming up with Ollie at some point as this show’s version of Speedy, works well as a younger, more enthusiastic counter to Amell.
There’s a lot for fanboys to point at in this episode. In addition to Laurel’s identity as the future Black Canary, and Thea being called Speedy, within the first two minutes we get an obvious Deathstroke foreshadowing. Tommy Merlyn, Ollie’s best friend, is also the name of Green Arrow’s arch enemy in the comics. Constantine Drakon, who we see here as a personal guard for the big bad guy, is also a comic book villain, albeit one who hasn’t been seen in awhile. While we don’t see them in the pilot, we also know from various sources that Huntress and Deadshot will be popping up down the line.
What I’m hoping is that all these elements will eventually add up to form a fangasmic show to fill the gap left by Smallville, which doesn’t suffer from the same kind of stunted growth that show did. Arrow isn’t a prequel. We’re not going to have to wait 10 years to see Oliver Queen “officially” become a hero. There’ll be none of that crap about “fulfilling your destiny,” etc. With Arrow the time for fun is now. While there are some hindering factors, I’m holding out hope that we’ll be able to have fun for at least two or three seasons.
Front page image from nukethefridge.com. Image 1 from screencrush.com. Image 2 from mtv.com. Image 3 from latimes.com.