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Tag Archive: Arrow Tv series


Last month ABC released its order for a pilot for a new Avengers spinoff TV series called S.H.I.E.L.D., beased on the classic Marvel Comics secret military/law enforcement agency created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1965.  The acronym originally stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division, which later changed to Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate and currently the Marvel film universe uses the acronym to mean Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.  Whatever it stands for, it means the return of Joss Whedon to TV, after his successful series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and less successful but popular Firefly and Dollhouse. 

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The CW Network’s Arrow series premiered this Wednesday, and for those who missed my review of the pilot episode originally published here July 17, 2012, I am reprinting it here updated with my additional comments after seeing a second showing all these months later.  Spoilers!

The CW previewed the entire pilot for the series on Comic-Con Wednesday and Friday this year to thousands of attendees.  The auditorium erupted in cheers to several scenes in the series opener, starting some worthy buzz for this newest DC Comics Justice League superhero to hit the small screen.  Was it good?  Absolutely.  And even for a big fan of the traditional character’s story, updates made for TV were well thought out and did little to detract from the core of what makes Green Arrow the unique character that has survived as a key comic book character for 70 years.  The pilot deftly managed to alter far less of the source material than, for example, the Green Lantern movie released in 2011, and in doing so created a believable, refreshing story with appropriate nods to the past, and one that promises to survive, should it find its fan base.  On second viewing this past Wednesday, my thoughts haven’t changed one bit.  If you are a fan of superheroes or read comic books at all, Arrow is the one series you should be watching.

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We’ve been talking about the new Arrow TV series all year here at borg.com.  I have been a life-long fan of the character, and I spent all night and a day camping out with thousands of Firefly fans to see the pilot episode that I reviewed here back in July.  Now everyone gets to see the pilot and why those who have seen it so far think this will be a superhero series that may actually survive the scrutiny of TV audiences and ratings.

Right now you can get a free digital copy of the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive print comic created for the TV series, downloadable at Comixology.com.  It gives some insight into the TV series.  A weekly digital tie-in will also be available at Comixology’s website for 99 cents starting Wednesday.

Although the DC Comics New 52 series is not tied into the TV series, one of my favorite artists is now the artist for the current DC comic book series–Freddie Williams II–and here is a great sketch of a young and determined Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow that he kindly created for me, similar to the guy you’ll see tomorrow night.  Very, very cool!

I hope you all enjoy the pilot tomorrow night!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Up until this week 13 confirmed DC Comics characters had been announced for the CW Network’s new TV series, Arrow, premiering October 10, 2012: Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), his girlfriend Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Katie Cassidy), colleague in crime fighting The Huntress (Jessica De Gouw), the villain Deathstroke (not yet released), Speedy (formerly an alias of multiple characters but now Oliver’s sister Thea, played now by Willa Holland and referred to in the pilot episode by this nickname), the DCU villain Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Green Arrow Year One’s China White (Kelly Hu), Merlyn now Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), Queen Industries CEO Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), Judd Winick and Phil Hester’s Constantine Drakon (Darren Shahlavi)–a former nemesis of Oliver’s son Connor in more recent GA stories, Firestorm series character Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), and Mike Grell’s creation Moira Queen, Oliver’s mother (Susanna Thompson).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The CW Network’s new TV series Arrow will not be aired until the Fall, but the CW previewed the entire pilot for the series last Wednesday and Friday to thousands of attendees at Comic-Con.  The auditorium erupted in cheers to several scenes in the series opener, starting some worthy buzz for this newest DC Comics Justice League superhero to hit the small screen.  Was it good?  Absolutely.  And even for a fan of the traditional character’s story, updates made for TV were well thought out and did little to detract from the core of what makes Green Arrow the unique character that has survived as a key comic book character for 70 years.  The pilot deftly managed to alter far less of the source material than, for example, the Green Lantern movie released in 2011, and in doing so created a truer, more refreshing story with appropriate nods to the past, and one that promises to survive, should it find its fan base.

Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Amell, is son of one of Starling City’s preeminent business magnates and head of Queen Industries, Robert Queen (played by Jamey Sheridan).  Oliver was on a yacht with his father and cheating below deck on his girlfriend Dinah “Laurel” Lance (a legal aid lawyer played by Katie Cassidy) with Laurel’s impressionable younger sister.  A surprise storm sinks the craft, the sister is sucked into the sea and drowns and Oliver, his dad, and a crewmember are left floating in a lifeboat.  Before running out of food Oliver’s dad kills the crewmember and himself to give Oliver a chance at survival.  All of this backstory is interspersed throughout the episode, building up to the revelation that the father and crewmember were dead by his father’s hand.  Oliver stays on the island five years until rescued by natives of another island sailing by.  By then he has become a sort of Grizzly Adams, hairy, physically strong and singularly adept at survival, including impressively wielding a bow and arrow.

When he returns home to Starling City, his mother, played by Susanna Thompson, is now romantically linked with his father’s former business partner and this does not sit well with Oliver.  Despite his numerous apologies, Laurel Lance has no place in her life for Oliver and blames Oliver for her sister’s death.  Oliver has his own sister, Thea (Willa Holland) a misguided youth tempted by parties and the like, and Oliver immediately returns to his role as big brother, irking the girl.  In one of the best updates to the traditional Green Arrow story, Oliver’s nickname for the sister is Speedy.  Green Arrow fans will know Speedy as the long-time sidekick of Green Arrow.  In the Phil Hester, Ande Parks, and Kevin Smith run of the Green Arrow comic book, a wayward girl with HIV named Mia was taken under Oliver’s wing, and she became Speedy, so there is some history with a female Speedy (in my view the best incarnation of his sidekick).  Hopefully the series will survive long enough for this to take on the Speedy story as its own fleshed-out subplot.  The first Speedy had drug issues, and you could see that history seeping into his sister’s character arc.

Laurel has been friends with Oliver’s best friend Tommy, played by Colin Donnell, since Oliver was presumed dead.  Tommy immediately steps back into a supportive role for his friend.  Another wealthy late-twenty-something guy like Oliver, Tommy surprisingly fit in well in the pilot.  A tad smarmy, he is the only one to really celebrate Oliver’s return and give him the “welcome home” party he deserves.  In his party scenes we see Oliver’s only similarity to Batman’s Bruce Wayne, a little window into the excesses shown by Christian Bale in his stints as the the caped crusader that were echoed in the traditional Oliver Queen.  Despite that slight similarity, series writers/creators Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim have shown Oliver to be a completely different superhero.  And this is best highlighted when Oliver begins cleaning up the streets of his former home, donning a green suede hooded outfit like Robin Hood.  The city is riddled with crime and nasty masked characters who try to kidnap Oliver, only for Oliver to kill them off one by one.  A superhero that kills is definitely against mainstream norms but it also has history with this character, most recently in the superb Justice League Cry for Justice mini-series, which left Oliver murdering the villain Prometheus in part for maiming the original Speedy, now called Red Arrow.

How often have you watched Batman let the Joker live after committing horrible crimes and wondered why he didn’t just end the Joker once and for all?  After Joker killed the second Robin (Jason Todd) in A Death in the Family?  After the Joker assaulted Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) and left her disabled in The Killing Joke?  It’s long overdue that the vigilantism that is the undercurrent of both Batman and Green Arrow comes through in a story.  It didn’t occur in the original Flash TV series, in any Superman movie or in the Green Lantern movie.  So the audience that previewed the new Arrow was introduced to an element never before seen in a major DC Comics character and they loved it.  And Amell, later in the panel, proved that he understands his character, saying, “You couldn’t expect that Oliver was going to undertake something so monumental without there being collateral damage.  You don’t have to agree with his tactics, but you should respect what he’s trying to do.”

The pilot set up a web of subplots that can be handled throughout the first season.  Oliver’s mother seems to be behind his kidnapping upon his return.  Why?  Who is she working with?  How does it relate to some secret Oliver’s father may have disclosed to him on the yacht?  Will Diggle be a friend to Oliver or spy for his mother?

British actor and genre favorite Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files) plays his American accent here as Detective Quentin Lance, Laurel’s father and an angry cop investigating the crime element in the city as well as trying to track the new hooded vigilante killing off local crimelords and their lackeys.  He also can’t move beyond his younger daughter’s death these five years later.  Adding further difficulty to Oliver’s covert superhero doings, after the botched kidnapping, Oliver’s mother hires a full-time bodyguard named John Diggle (played by David Ramsey) to accompany Oliver everywhere.  Initially easily ditched by Oliver, Diggle learns quickly, giving Oliver an extra obstacle to fulfilling his goal of secretly cleaning up the city.  Like Green Arrow in his history of DC Comics stories, his alias is not so expertly hidden and Tommy suspects that it is Oliver who is the new hooded vigilante–yet another future story element to investigate.  The pilot also included a few throwaway characters that probably shouldn’t survive the pilot–typical stereotypes that you’d stuff into a pilot as filler, including Roger R. Cross as Detective Hilton and Brian Markinson as villain Adam Hunt.  Does Detective Lance need a partner?  If there was a downside to the pilot it was too many second tier characters.

Diehard fans of any character or story will always wrestle with any change or update to a character when translated from its original source material.  Changes like updating Star City to Starling City actually help to pull the character from the comic book world into the real world, although my initial reaction was “why change that?” or “why not just place him in Seattle where he lived for decades as written by Mike Grell?”  I asked Neal Adams at Comic-Con to give me his take on the new series, and he’s just not interested.  Adams, along with Denny O’Neil, created the modern, cocky and cool Oliver Queen at the tail end of the 1960s.  The biggest changes to Green Arrow later came from Mike Grell, who really amplified the role of Dinah Lance into Oliver’s story, and made Green Arrow the ultimate urban hunter.  I think Grell would at least like the direction this new Oliver Queen appears to be heading.  Do I wish this was a scene for scene adaptation of Grell’s Longbow Hunters series or his other stories?  You bet.  But since nothing ever matches what you’d envision, this at least gets Green Arrow a long overdue screen adaptation (the rest of the key seven Justice League members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Green Lantern have had at least their own animated series over the years), keeps Black Canary as his love interest, and features Ollie showing his stuff as urban archer.  If the writers can keep the series interesting and fresh, people will watch and we can see some expanded stories if the series will last.  When I look at series like Supernatural and Smallville, whose early episodes seemed to me to be very thin, it should be a no-brainer for CW to make this series into something just as successful.  Amell later in the panel admitted that he hopes it makes it ten years.  Wishful thinking?

After the preview of the pilot, series stars Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy and writers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim responded to some well thought out questions from the panel moderator.  During the pilot Amell’s voice seemed very familiar and I had to look away to figure out who I was hearing.  He sounds a lot like a young, cocky Tom Cruise, from around the time of Top Gun.  Amell’s command of the character comes through in his voiceovers and Cruise’s early “immature jerk” roles seem to be reflected albeit not intentionally in Amell’s performance as the cocky side of Oliver.  I know many don’t like voiceovers, but I am one who prefers the Harrison Ford voiceover Blade Runner to the edited version, so I thought the voiceover here was also a good touch.  Amell responded very passionately to questions about playing Oliver Queen.  Amell sounds like he is inside Oliver’s head, both in voice delivery and in the word choice drafted by the writers.

The series features an older cast than Smallville, less teen soap opera, less typical CW, and more adult drama, if maybe at the younger end of the adult set.  Writer Andrew Kreisberg calls the show a crime drama, a family drama and a romance.  But even with that age block the actors appeared youthfully ambitious and eager about their new gig.

When asked whether we’ll see Cassidy’s Laurel Lance turn into action heroine Black Canary, in particular donning the character’s signature fishnet stockings, it seemed clear that both she planned on it saying she is “definitely ready” and Kreisberg and Guggenheim couldn’t say no to the roar from the crowd.  Kreisberg said that fans would see this transpire “not as soon as you want, but a lot sooner than you think.”  The creators didn’t shy away from the fact that they wanted and selected attractive stars for the series, reflecting the attractive characters from the source material.  Amell was the first who auditioned for Oliver and according to the writers, he was immediately selected for the role.

A key scene in one of the trailers, reported here several weeks ago, shows Amell doing a nearly impossible feat climbing a series of workout bars.  Amell said no CGI was used, and he, indeed, did these scenes on his own.  One of the writers added that that was “something you won’t see in Batman.”

CW revealed Kelly Hu will be guest starring in a future episode as the DC villain, China White, first appearing in the 2007 mini-series Green Arrow: Year One.  As I had speculated this past February here, the writers acknowledged relying heavily on the modern origin story in Green Arrow: Year One, illustrated by the artist known as Jock.  Not a classic Green Arrow story by any means, it did seem to serve as backdrop for at least the pilot episode.  A very recent villain like China White seems to me to be DC Comics taking an easy route.  Why not some bigger villains?  At least Deathstroke was disclosed as another villain we can look for in the series.  The writers advised watching each episode for “Easter Eggs,” like this Deathstroke mask found in one of the show’s trailers:

All said, I had trepidations about taking my favorite character into his own series, but I am quite pleased so far and am looking forward to watching the full series in the Fall CW lineup.  The pilot for Arrow premieres to the rest of the world Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

I will feature the actual Arrow costume in a later post, as it was on display at the SDCC DC Comics booth.

One additional benefit to attended the previews of the pilot was a convention exclusive comic book for the series that I was happy to get my hands on, pictured here with a cover by none other than the great Green Arrow artist, Mike Grell:

Full trailers can be found in my earlier post here.

The CW Network just released the first photo of Stephen Amell in the new Green Arrow supersuit for the new TV series, titled simply Arrow.

The costume was designed by Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood.  A native of the Seattle area, Atwood has created a pretty interesting look for the classic DC Comics superhero son of Seattle, Green Arrow, alter ego of Oliver Queen.  In fact, you could see someone wearing this outfit in a crowd on the streets of Seattle on a typical gray day and no one would even give him a second glance.  And that certainly fits with an urban hunter who needs to keep a bit of a low profile.

The costume seems to reveal some tidbits about the new Green Arrow.  First, although the outfit doesn’t appear dark and brooding itself, the dark shadows that Amell is filmed in reflects that the producers want viewers to see this as a dark superhero drama.  So fans of the cheesier, bright and shiny, green vinyl look that Oliver Queen wore in the Smallville series, take note.

I always thought this bizarre "leafy" outfit from Smallville is something you'd see Joker's girlfriend Poison Ivy wearing.

As we predicted (and hoped) earlier here at borg.com, happily, they are taking a different tack here.

Jock's tougher looking, hooded Green Arrow outfit from the Year One mini-series.

Second, this photograph isn’t just an homage to Jock and Andy Diggle’s Green Arrow: Year One, this IS the Green Arrow designed by the artist known as Jock:  from the hood, the small arrow quiver, the vest design with the extended shoulders–further cements this new series as a Year One-inspired story.  The fact that one of the show’s characters is named Diggle leads one to believe either the creators were working with Diggle & Co. or at least heavily influenced by the recent incarnation of Oliver Queen in the Year One mini-series.

The costume also is obviously heavily influenced by the character’s own idol, Robin Hood.  This can be seen in both the medieval stylized green suede mantle and decorative trim, but even more so on the bottom from the front to the reverse in the skirting/dags/tippets/flaps as seen in Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood costume from the classic Adventures of Robin Hood, as well as in the Green Arrow early 1980s Wonder Years mini-series.  The medieval capa or hood bridges the early 1980s incarnation with the later 1980s version created by Mike Grell for The Longbow Hunters.

Green Arrow from Green Arrow: The Wonder Years

The small quiver would seem to indicate removing the possibility of fitting Oliver’s renowned trick arrows in there.  Probably a good thing for this kind of series.

The only possible detracting component is the pocket(s).  I think pockets on this kind of piece are actually kind of humorous.  Would Oliver have time to stand around with hands in pockets in stealth mode?  It seems a bit 1990s “hanging out on the street corner” kind of look.  Yet altogether my verdict is…  I think this costume works.  Green leather and possibly suede are slick materials to use.  Dark tones.  Inspired by various past Green Arrow influences.  Practical gloves.  No unnecessary belt with a big “G” buckle (I never have been a fan of that part of the costume).  Looks like someone jumping around buildings could move easily in it.  And it doesn’t look silly.  Clearly some good thought and planning went into this.

Atwood could have taken one of these huntsman outfits from the Snow White movie, but didn't.

We shouldn’t be surprised.  Costume designer Colleen Atwood has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and won three Oscars, for Alice in Wonderland, Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.  Her other work includes Sweeney Todd, Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Public Enemies, The Rum Diary, The Tourist, and the recently previewed coming release Dark Shadows.  Do we see a theme here?   Yep, pretty much all “dark and brooding”  Johnny Depp vehicles, and interesting designs.  Recently Atwood designed costumes for the 2012 release Snow White and the Huntsman and Mission Impossible III, but her past work includes film classics like The Handmaid’s Tale, Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, That Thing You Do, Gattaca, Fallen, Mumford, Big Fish, and The Planet of the Apes (remake).

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com