Category Archives: justin hartley

Arrow: Honor Thy Father

The initial excitement is over. Last time I was just thrilled that the show was as good as it was. I was expecting a train wreck. This week, I have questions, and observations.

Before seeing the show, and basing my opinions on just the previews, it seemed to me that Oliver Queen was a killer at least, and a serial killer at worse. From the opening of “Honor Thy Father,” my fears may have been true. Ever get shot through the chest with an arrow? I haven’t, but an easy guess says it’s a kill shot. There’s a couple on this rooftop. I also wonder if Oliver retrieves his arrows? How hard could it be for police to track down a guy buying lots of arrows in the city recently? Detective Lance already has several in his possession, what’s the hold up?

As far as the serial killer angle, there is ritual, there is method, I can’t help but wonder if Oliver is taking trophies. Was he disturbed a along or did Dad’s suicide in front of him push him over the edge? Was it the island, or something that happened on the island? Did Deathstroke teach him to be a killer? Yeah, I went there. We all saw his mask in the first episode.

And then there’s the problem with motivation. Sure, I understand trying to right his father’s wrongs, but didn’t Dad blow his brains out in front of him? That is an act of both cowardice and spiteful revenge. Obviously Dad didn’t think much of Oliver to do that to me, so why is he trying to clean up Dad’s mess for him? Something is just not clicking for me there.

Stephen Amell’s scarred and tattooed body continues to be the star of the show. That’s just based on the opinions of the straight women and gay men I know who are watching. And also by the serious amount of screen time Amell’s bare torso gets. I’m also starting to warm to him as an actor. Amell is almost a likable and talented Matt Damon. He’s no Justin Hartley, but really, who is?

I am continuing to enjoy the comics creator name drops in the scripts. Last week we had Judge Grell and Oliver’s bodyguard Diggle, and this week we’re introduced to one of Laurel’s clients, a Miss Nocenti. For the record, Ann Nocenti is the current writer on DC Comics’ Green Arrow ongoing title.

And I’m still loving Oliver’s Batman-like disappearing act he keeps pulling on Diggle. And yeah, I am digging David Ramsey’s Diggle. Good to finally see him in action this episode. Another thing I like is Oliver’s internal dialogue. It’s a comic book device which is fitting, but it’s also pretty unique in the world of television. Nice. More, please.

Arrow’s tagline of “You have failed this city.” will get old quickly, and is already starting to in the second episode. The plot point that follows the line could get old real quick as well, much like the meteor freak of the week on “Smallville.” I hope Dad’s list of names is a short one.

This episode introduces Kelly Hu as China White from the comics. China White is the first villainess Green Arrow ever encounters, as she is running heroin from the island where Queen was shipwrecked. Here she’s a Chinese Triad assassin, and a formidable adversary. The fight between her and Arrow is awesome.

I am also warming to Katie Cassidy as Laurel even though she’s no Black Canary (or would that be just Canary?) yet, and Paul Blackthorne as her dad. His blame game act could get old quickly too though. But I am starting to like them both. And I am waiting patiently to see what turns Colin Donnell’s Tommy Merlyn into Merlyn the Magician.

Okay, two episodes in and I’m hooked. Despite questions, fears, and reservations, I want more and can’t wait ’til next week. Rumor is, next time, we get Deadshot. And speaking of villains from the comics, based on the symbol on Dad’s notebook, could the mystery character John Barrowman will be playing be… Count Vertigo?

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.