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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Arrow Pilot


The norm used to be for bringing a comic book to the small screen would be to change everything. Everyone fondly remembers "The Incredible Hulk" TV series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. You know the one without Rick Jones, Betty Ross, Glenn Talbot, General Ross, Gamma Base, or any Gamma Bombs. When you think about it, the show was more "The Fugitive" than the Hulk.

This was standard operating procedure though. The Justice League became the Super Friends. Bat-Mite turned green. Remember Rex Smith as the Daredevil in black who wore a mask with no eyeholes? How about the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman?

Even the wildly successful "Smallville" changed many aspects of its source material. The joke used to be that "Smallville" had some names and concepts in common with old Superboy comics but everything else was different. In later seasons of the series one of the highlights was Green Arrow as played by Justin Hartley. The character proved so popular that the CW decided to give him his own similar "Smallville" themed series. The catch - it's not a spin-off, it's not Justin Hartley, and it's very different from both the source material and even "Smallville."

In "Arrow," despite Oliver Queen's outfit, car, and arrows being green, he's not Green Arrow, he's Arrow. The city he protects is Starling City, not Star City. And previews make him out to be more of a murderous vigilante than a superhero. Before viewing the pilot, friends had told me it was great, so I was willing to give it a shot, changes or not.

It's not that I don't love and miss Justin Hartley, but this is a different take on the character, and Stephen Amell slips seamlessly into this new Oliver Queen rule. Despite my misgivings, I was pulled into the "Arrow" pilot immediately, and not just by the Deathstroke mask on the beach. "Arrow" is a solid TV show with or without its comic book superhero origins. And it's an adult show, this is not going to be the teen soap opera that "Smallville" was the first few years.

A more complicated backstory and motivation is overlaid to Green Arrow's comics origin, and it works for 2012 television. I like it. Oh sure, there's great wink-wink stuff like his drug-using sister being nicknamed Speedy, the complicated relationship with Dinah Laurel Lance (Black Canary in the comics), and of course there is the prerequisite best friend who becomes arch-villain, Tommy Merlyn AKA Merlyn the Magician - but I would dig "Arrow" even without all that.

A warning for the kids, and the folks with kids, this is a pretty violent show. So don't be fooled just because it's based on a comic book, this is not for the younguns. That said, I'm looking forward to more "Arrow," and I hope you all are as well. I was refreshingly surprised.

3 comments:

Marie Gilbert said...

I need to see this one because my husband did watch the show and liked it.

Heironymous said...

I guess I am getting old, but I thought this WAS a teen action-drama (kinda Twilight meets Hunger Games meets the Punisher). These days parents take their 6-year olds to see the Dark Knight Returns and the Avengers.

Are you sure you know what these so called "young'uns" watch?

As for Arrow, I watched the pilot and it managed to keep my attention. And at my age, that's a good thing. :-)



Glenn Walker said...

I guess maybe I don't know what the kids these days should be watching. It was pointed out to me, despite some very violent scenes, including a gun to the head suicide, "Arrow" still aired in an eight o'clock time slot. So what do I know?