In case you haven’t seen the 3500 other posts around these parts announcing the U.S. and Canada premiere date, Arrow premieres at 8PM tonight on The CW. Rather than writing a full review, which could be awkward considering I’ve run into these people, I thought it would be best to just write a mini-review with seven not-so-spoilery points that I liked or even disliked.
Here are some of those things or points that really stood out:
1. Stephen Amell. I have a huge amount of respect and like for Justin Hartley, who played Green Arrow for five years on Smallville. I understand there are people who’d still like to see him playing the character. But I do think, even a few minutes into the pilot, any of that hope or temptation to see Justin will go away.
Stephen makes the role of Oliver Queen his own by playing the character in a totally different way than Justin did. It’s not suggesting that Justin’s Arrow was bad, by any means… it’s just a different character. Oliver has many layers to him here at the different parts of his life — scared, douchey, sensitive, determined, brave, and bold all being a few of them.
The guy has also worked very hard to put his Oliver Queen in fantastic shape. From my outsider’s perspective, it looks to me that Stephen knows what a huge deal it is to be the lead of a show with a character who has been loved for decades… and he’s not going to go only half-way. He’s all in, and he’s giving the show everything he’s got.
2. The writing. Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg are really smart. Every time I’ve talked to them, there seem to be things that they say that prove to me that they really know their stuff. Right now, it is clear that they are focused on making Arrow the best TV show it can possibly be, by throwing as much as they can into a given episode. Again, that’s really appreciated as a viewer, and as a comic book geek.
I also like the sprinkling of humor into the pilot without getting to the level of campy. A lot of the promos have focused on the show’s dark side, but there is some good humor and heart to it. It’s a TV show about Oliver Queen; how could it not, really?
3. A great supporting cast. I feel like I’ll accidentally leave people out if I name names, but I will say this: I’ll never hope for a TV project to fail, but I was really hoping The River wouldn’t get picked up for Season 2 so we’d get Paul Blackthorne every week as Detective Lance. The casting people, across the board, did a good job here, with several actors who will surely stand out as someone’s favorite.
4. The “costume.” A bad costume can ruin a show. Arrow recruited Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood for this one, which seems like a mix of practicality and non-costume-ness and the kind of hood you’d see in various different eras of Green Arrow comics. I like it a lot.
5. It’s action packed. I’d have to give the Arrow stunt team props – they really make it look like an action packed movie. No fake looking fights here, this looks really awesome. Male viewers are going to like that while the female viewers (and likely some guys too) will be busy just being in awe of Stephen. I hope this keeps up, because it looks FANTASTIC.
6. There ARE things I didn’t like. Just so you know this isn’t a puff piece… there are elements, while very few, that didn’t work for me so much. The first is the use of voiceover. I understand that’s the best way to introduce a character or a concept, in a pilot especially, and especially when your lead character spends time stuck on an island, but as a whole, I generally hate it. Just a personal preference, but probably a necessary evil. Sadly, MANY of this year’s pilots went the voiceover route, so it’s not just an Arrow thing.
The other thing I didn’t care for is the use of Hatley Castle in Victoria as the Queen family home. It was a little jarring to see the home that I knew so well after 10 years of Smallville as Lex Luthor’s mansion. Granted, the mansion has also been used as Professor Xavier’s home in the X-Men movies, but was there really nothing else of similar stature available? On the bright side, the mansion’s use has inspired some REALLY beautiful sets which you’ll be seeing on the show, so, it’s probably worth it, and yes, I’ll get over it eventually. Just being a nitpicker here.
7. It looks beautiful. Arrow looks like a movie, which should be no surprise considering the creative talent behind the camera. But I have to say – this was one of the best looking pilots of Fall 2012, and I’m happy to hear that this consistency will continue into future episodes.
All in all, I liked it a lot, and I hope others will too. I also will admit I can’t wait to see more. Let’s face it — with the luck that we’ve had with comic book adaptations in TV and movies sometimes, there was a possibility this could go horribly wrong, but it so didn’t. Arrow delivered, and then went beyond just delivering; it exceeded expectations. Those who liked a series like Smallville will probably like this. Those who didn’t like Smallville would probably also like this. Arrow premieres TONIGHT at 8PM (ET) on The CW and in Canada on CTV Two.