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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Cast
Stephen Amell as Oliver Quinn; Katie Cassidy as Dinah 'Laurel' Lance; Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn; David Ramsey as John Diggle; Willa Holland as Thea Queen; Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen; Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance; Colin Salmon as Walter Steele
Channel
CW
Reviewer
Paul Asay
Arrow

Stop me if you've heard this story before: Billionaire playboy suffers massive personal tragedy … which turns him into a mask-wearing vigilante determined to protect his beloved hometown.

You have? Well, so surprise there. The superhero world is littered with crusading billionaire playboys—so much so that we have to wonder why Bill Gates wastes his money on charity work and hasn't started buying high-tech crime-fighting gear and domino masks. What's his problem? Does he have a bad back, perhaps?

No matter. The most popular moneyed do-gooder in the game today—or, more accurately, the most popular one who has a new show on the CW network—is not Batman or Iron Man or even Mr. Gates, but Oliver Queen, a fellow known in comic book lore as the Green Arrow.

Arrow is an almost paint-by-numbers illustration of the life of a superhero … as interpreted by the youth-and-relationships-obsessed CW. That's not entirely a put-down. He is, after all, at least trying to do the right thing, which is more than we can say for the folks he's fighting.

It wasn't always so. Oliver was once the enfant terrible of Starling City's ludicrously wealthy and powerful Queen family. There never was a party he didn't like, a drink he didn't quaff or a girlfriend he didn't cheat on with her sister.

But his attitude begins to change after his father's ship wrecks, killing almost everyone on board and leaving young Oliver marooned on a mysterious island (its Chinese name translating to Purgatory). There he is taught belated lessons of right and wrong, of loyalty, of courage and (most importantly) how to shoot arrows really, really straight.

Fast-forward five years, and Oliver's back in town, determined to clean up Starling City as a hooded vigilante, toting around a quiverful of high-tech arrows to harass and occasionally kill evildoers. We see him live for the good of the city (as he sees it) rather than the next big party. He tries to be a better person to the folks in his life whom he might've hurt before. And he risks pretty much everything when he goes out to deal with the city's desperados.

Batman would be aghast at Oliver's ethos, though, given the Dark Knight's no-killing creed. While Oliver's vigilante slayings aren't necessarily graphic, they're inherently disturbing. He's the show's hero, remember—a self-appointed avenging angel who's trying to make us all safer. But considering that his idea of making things "safer" is through assault and battery and the occasional murder … well, even Iron Man might get all high and mighty about that.

The show has other problems too. CW loves its soapy plotlines, and Arrow is filled with suds. Relationships can get hot and steamy. Language, in between the twanging of bow strings, can be a bit rough.

Episode Reviews

"The Scientist"

With his mom no longer on trial for murder, Oliver turns his attention to a disturbing new, super-strong criminal. A wet-behind-the-ears CSI shows up to help, though he has his own secrets to keep.

Oliver gets into a couple of fights with the masked evildoer, who is doped up on some stuff that accounts for his super-strength and immunity to pain. The first time, Oliver stabs him in the leg with an arrow. The malcontent knocks Oliver through doors and windows and eventually sends him spinning into a pile of trash. During the second melee, Oliver uses a special arrow to lasso the dude's neck with wire, slowing him down, then shoots the dastardly strongman in both feet, further immobilizing him. No matter: The villain breaks the wire and both arrows and severely punishes Oliver with his (yep, super-strong) fists. Oliver ultimately crashes into an industrial shelf and has his leg punctured by syringes filled with a mystery chemical, rendering him unconscious.

Another mystery serum is said to kill unless it's mixed with a tranquilizer, leaving recipients to die while bleeding from their eyeballs. (We see one man do this, and the corpse of another victim in an alley.) A security guard's neck is broken. (We see the deed and look at a postmortem picture.)

People drink alcohol. Women wear revealing gowns. Folks say "d‑‑n" and "h‑‑‑" (three times each), and "jeez" (once).

"Damaged"

Oliver is roughly arrested, under suspicion of being the "Hood" (which he is). He's also tortured (but not by police). We see a masked man slice Oliver with a large knife (the blade partially obscured by Oliver's shirt).

Oliver tells a baddie that he's been a disappointment to Starling City, aiming an arrow at him before the screen turns black and we hear the arrow fly. Folks fight, getting hit, kicked and choked. Someone gets shot by the police and dies. Someone else dies in a car accident (offscreen). A special arrow traps a man. A rabbit is skewered with an arrow.

Oliver takes off his shirt to show Lauren the scars on his torso, and the two kiss before Lauren backs off. A wild party features scantily clad women dancing, some in cages. Participants consume a variety of alcoholic beverages. Characters say "d‑‑n," "a‑‑" and "h‑‑‑" (once each). They lie a lot, even evading polygraph tests.

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