Pilot Perception: Arrow

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Arrow, The CW in the U.S. and CTV two in Canada, Wednesdays at 8/7c

The Pedigree: The show is executive produced by Greg Berlanti (No Ordinary Family, Brothers & Sisters) and Marvel and DC Comics writer Marc Guggenheim, who also worked with Berlanti on Eli Stone and No Ordinary Family. Other writers include Andrew Kreisberg (The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Warehouse 13) and Moira Kirland (Dark Angel, Castle). The character was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. David Nutter (Entourage, Game of Thrones) directed the pilot.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Arrow stars Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries, Private Practice), Katie Cassidy (Supernatural, Gossip Girl), Colin Donnell (Pan Am, Broadway’s Anything Goes), David Ramsey (Dexter, Blue Bloods), Willa Holland (The O.C., Gossip Girl), and Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files, The River). And relevant to the interests of many of us: John Barrowman and Tahmoh Penikett will each show up later for at least an episode, though they’re not in the pilot.

The Premise: Arrow is an adaptation of the DC Comics character Green Arrow. Billionaire playboy Oliver Queen, along with his father and his girlfriend’s sister, is presumed dead at sea, but Oliver is in fact the only survivor and reappears five years later. He’s a changed man, hiding a secret identity as he tries to restore the glory of Starling City, but there are mysterious forces at work against him, and he doesn’t know the whole truth of the shipwreck after all.

A Taste:

What Works: This was a slick pilot with a lot of action but also enough mystery and intrigue to hook me and make me want to see more. Exes! Revenge! Family secrets! Hamlet overtones! The cast is generally strong, though Colin Donnell and Paul Blackthorne are particular standouts. I was really impressed by how accessible this was to those of us who don’t know anything about the character or mythology going in. I would also really like to live in the Queen mansion.

What Doesn’t: A few times, the show struck me as “cartoonish,” and I had to remind myself that it is in fact based on comics and so some of that tone is supposed to come through. I thought the world-building could have been a bit stronger, to make us really buy into Oliver’s and Laurel’s missions, and the writing was serviceable but generally unremarkable.

Our Favorite Line: “What’d I tell you? Yachts suck.”

Other Items of Note: I came to this knowing virtually nothing about the original comics or other adaptations, so I can’t speak to how faithful it is. If you’re a big fan of the original, that will probably color your opinion of this show.

You Might Like This if you like superhero stories or action-packed dramas. It also reminded me a lot of Revenge. You may also like it if you like abs, as Oliver spends a fair amount of time working out shirtless.

If You’re Interested: Arrow premieres tonight on the CW and CTV two at 8/7c.

(Photo courtesy of the CW.)

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