Arrow: Pilot Review

Oliver Queen was a rich playboy, then he was stranded on a deserted island for five years. He returns to “his city” with a new found similarity to Robin Hood – green hood, bow and arrow and a grudge against a list of names whose wealth he promptly starts redistributing.

My first pilot of the American 2012-13 season, one I was rather looking forward to at that, and it turns out to be rubbish. There was so much wrong with this pilot it’s hard to know where to begin.

1) The casting. Relative unknown Stephen Amell manages to faintly remind you of a lot of other people while singularly failing to have much of a presence at all. He often seems to be aiming for Christian Bale’s Batman/Bruce Wayne, but unfortunately he principally reminded me of Chris O’Donnel’s Robin/Dick Ward. Meanwhile the rest of the cast is equally budget despite crying out for people who could bring depth and subtlety.

2) The characters. In Stephen Amell’s defence he was trying to play about half a dozen different characters, maybe if the writers pick just a couple of them, he’ll have an easier time of it. The rest of the characters are also straight out of the cliché pile, fun loving best friend, dad’s creepy business partner moving in on conniving mother, grizzled police detective etc etc. The only sparks were the younger sister, who got the only realistic feeling speech of the whole thing and the bodyguard who was saved from being inflicted with terrible dialogue because mostly he just raised his eyebrows.

3) The plot. Do you know anything about Batman? Then you know the plot of this.

4) The detail. Outside of the plot is all the ‘gubbins’ that links the plot together, filling in between the beats that the story needs, getting characters from A to B and filling in backstory. It’s rubbish. I wasn’t clear on whether the guy had been on a desert island by himself, or in a ninja training camp. It wasn’t that I found that an interesting mystery, I just assumed it was pure ineptness on the writers’ parts. Oh and as for someone who is plastered all over the news disguising himself by wearing a hoodie… don’t get me started.

All of these factors are beautifully highlighted in the stunningly horrendous narration that you can hear a bit of in the trailer above and runs the whole way through the pilot. The charisma-less actor delivers the entire thing in that flat, emotionless drone without the faintest indication of any coherent character. As the voiceover isn’t going to be used to add a route to the character’s inner thoughts and emotions, it’s left just explaining the plot, which isn’t necessary as everyone works that out within the first 3 minutes. It’s just an energy draining monotone rambling over the top.

I don’t even know who this was trying to appeal to. I’d assumed it was going to be a bit “Batman for teens”, but the complete absence of any sense of humour rules that one out. The plot and lack of talent meanwhile kills it for ‘grown ups’. Maybe if all you want to do is look at a nicely sculpted bloke without his top on this would work, but there’s ways to get that without having to put up with the awful dialogue. It’s dull, it’s predictable, it’s badly put together and it is completely and utterly lacking in both coherence and fun. Mind blowingly rubbish.

Arrow starts on Sky 1 on 22nd October

Other Reviews
I’m apparently entirely alone, most other critics seem to think it was marvellous.

TV Addict – The pilot does an admirable job of balancing action sequences (of which there are several), romance (the seeds for a juicy triangle are planted) and the kind of dysfunctional family drama one might expect to find on a show like REVENGE.

Clique Clack – I went into the pilot for CW’s ‘Arrow’ with expectations of it being pretty awful and full of teen angst. As it turns out, it’s none of that, and so far it’s the best pilot I’ve seen for the 2012 fall season.

Huffington Post – “Arrow” doesn’t reinvent the superhero drama for television, but it reminds you how much fun a straight-up rendition of the classic elements of the genre can be.

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  1. Minor nitpick: Robin was Dick Grayson (Bruce Wayne’s ward) rather than Dick Ward.

    I’m not surprised that this reminded you of Batman: it was even more obvious in the original comics. Quoting from Kevin Smith’s “Quiver” story, where Green Arrow (who has partial amnesia) and Batman are going somewhere in the Batplane:
    GA: “This beats the arrow-plane all to hell!”
    Batman: “Arrow-plane. Haven’t heard that in a while. You retired it years ago, along with the arrow-car.”
    GA: “What about the arrow-cave?”
    Batman: “Good lord, man — did you ever have an original thought back then?”

    As for the hoodie, at least this version of Oliver Queen doesn’t have the distinctive blond beard…

    • Tom Taylor
    • October 23rd, 2012

    You are not alone. This programme was so bad it made me want to go back in time and force Robin of Loxley to apologise.

    If Green Arrow was a real person — and he should be — I think he would be itching to sue for character defamation. The whole show — every single thing about it — is just insulting.

    • Oh good, I’m so glad I’m not alone! I worry sometimes that I have unreasonably high expectations, but I don’t see why even mindless fun can’t have a decent script and some consistency from its characters.

  1. January 17th, 2013
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  4. May 23rd, 2015
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