I have no idea what to make of my unhealthy addiction to the CW’s “Arrow.” Based on the comic book character, The Green Arrow, “Arrow” feels like it borrows — and sometimes outright steals — ideas from a dozen other concepts. A billionaire playboy named Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) disappears during an ocean journey, only to reappear five years later, scarred and damaged and with a newfound proficiency with a bow and arrow that he gained fighting for his life on a desert island. His father, who died on the journey, confessed his sins and made Oliver vow to try to take down the criminal element that afflicts Starling City, where the Queens make their home. Queen dons a costume and has nighttime adventures fighting crime with his trusty bow and arrow, makes a few allies and a lot of enemies.
I know, right? It sounds like absolute bunk. There have been so many terrible, terrible superhero-style TV shows in the last several years that this one seemed like it would be just another pig in the pen. At best, it would be “Smallville” without the superpowers, and given how awful that show could be, that’s faint praise. At worse, we’d end up with another version of “The Cape” or worse, something akin to “Night Man.”
And yet… there’s a little more than meets the eye. “Arrow” isn’t just a sort of Batman-meets-Hawkeye. It’s actually more like Batman-meets-Hawkeye-meets-The Punisher. It’s a pretty intense show at times, and it works for a number of reasons. It’s fun, it’s exciting, the storyline is solid and enjoyable, the cast is refreshingly diverse, and it’s got nods-a-plenty to comic book nerds as well as a host of other genre fans. Yet despite that, it’s also surprisingly not superhero-y. There are no super powers at all, no science lab accidents, no mutating whatevers. In fact, no one ever calls him “Green Arrow” or even “Arrow.” He’s simply known as “the hood,” which is a nice touch and nod to realism.
Yes, you’ll regularly be hip deep in cheese, and yes, the idea that a simple hoodie can somehow prevent anyone from recognizing you is preposterous, and yes, the occasional soap opera-level drama and character obstinacy gets occasionally annoying. But if you can work through those issues, you’ll find some genuine joy is to be had. So here are the Ten Reasons You Should Be Watching “Arrow”:
1) The stuntwork and fight choreography is surprisingly good for television.
2) The women in Starling City are absolutely stunning (and surprisingly diverse).
3) So much so that this is the “awkward, nerdy girl” (business attire has never looked so good).
She (Emily Beth Rickards) is also one of the best parts of the show.
4) Despite all of that, the beefcake is frequently much more on-display than the cheesecake (the show features little cleavage-and-undies, but plenty of sweaty man action).
5) The rogues gallery has been pretty terrific so far, with easily recognizable characters for fans of the comics.
6) Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is in it.
7) As is Captain Jack Harkness.
8) Not to mention an honest-to-god Borg Queen, a Cylon-loving traitor, and a time-traveling Farscape hero.
9) The violence isn’t fooling around, either. I wasn’t kidding about the Punisher comparison. The show is quite brutal at times, and it ain’t the A-Team. Oliver Queen is basically Batman without the self-restraint.
BONUS: Episode 17 featured a guest appearance by DJ Steve Aoki. DANCE PARTY TIME.