10 Reasons Why “Arrow” is NOT on M’s WatchList

CW network Arrow TV show logo

Source: cwatlanta.cbslocal.com

CW’s “Arrow” does not hit its mark.

I took a few of my “leisure” hours this weekend to watch a couple episodes of the CW network’s new show Arrow, that chronicles the exploits of The Green Arrow, a DC Comics superhero created in the 1940s, upcycled and revamped in modern day America. I was less than impressed.

How can a superhero show featuring Captain Jack Harkness AND Harry Dresden be so abysmal?

I like a good superhero as much as the next girl, but this one just isn’t it. And with all the old heroes being revamped and reinvented, this is one storyline I think should have been skipped (or at least given a little more time in the rumination stage to make it less… well, blah).

DISCLAIMER: To be fair, I admit I didn’t start with episode one. I jumped in at Episode 11, but I feel if a show hasn’t gelled by then, it probably won’t. Also, I will admit that  although I grew up in the 80s and 90s I was NOT an avid comic book geek. The only graphic novels/ comics I read regularly were The Adventures of TinTin and Groo: The Wanderer. Although, I did fall madly in love with Batman at the age of 10 in 1989 when Michael Keaton donned the suit (and of course, it was a logical tiny hop to adore Michelle Pfeiffer’s Cat Woman a few years later in my formative pre-teen years).

So, disagree at will, but here are my Ten Reasons Why I Will NOT be Watching ARROW:

1) The tedious and disjointed Flashback sequences: I understand why shows use them. They are supposed to give us insight into the characters and their motivations a little at a time. But the flashbacks to the island were disrupting to the tale at hand and often didn’t seem connected to the current storyline. So what triggered them?

2) Familial Relationships as forced plot devices: Obviously every single character of this show has trust issues when it comes to family. But it seemed like they tried to play too much on the parent/ child dynamic of estranged affection as a facade for true love and a desire to protect one’s offspring. The strained relationships came across as more a lack of chemistry, than acting.

3) The Cliche’d use of the Hoarse Voice while in Alter-Ego mode: UGH. Really? As I mentioned before, I love Batman, but Christian Bale kind of killed this hackneyed way of hiding one’s identity in the Dark Knight Rises. It is just way too overdone and way too annoying.

4) Hoodie-Meets-Pleather: Sorry, dude. You do not look cool. What self-respecting superhero would run around in that? Maybe they should have spent a little more money on wardrobe and a little less on the exterior shots of the Queen mansion.

5) Grumpy Cat eye makeup: I actually laughed out loud the first time they show The Green Arrow’s face while he is incognito. Seriously, he looks like a guy dressed as the Grumpy Cat Meme.

Green Arrow looks like Angry Cat Meme

6) Villains? What Villains?: They spend so much time with trying to make you care about the core characters’ duplicity and shenanigans that the “bad guys” all seem flat and lackluster. They are introduced and made out to be bad-ass, in words mostly, but then you meet them and they are… lame.  I was hoping for more nefarious fare in the villain department, But alas, it is not to be. You really can’t have a great superhero without some really great villains, in my humble opinion.

7) The Writing… or maybe the Directing…: I am not sure why they aren’t using some of their actors to their full potential. I mean, you have John Barrowman AND Paul Blackthorne, and yet their characters are flat, awkward, and uninteresting. Is it the bad lines or the director’s choice that keeps these guys (and I am guessing the rest of the cast) under the thumb of mediocrity? I don’t know, but something’s gotta give.

8) Underutilization of Guest Stars: This goes back to number 6 somewhat and the fact that in the two episodes I watched, they had two potentially awesome villain characters, but something happened on the way to the network. I was sorely disappointed with the Count Vertigo character, played by Seth Gabel. I have seen him do really engaging things with characters before. And when David Anders showed up to play Cyrus Vanch I was ecstatic. He was delightfully evil and self-interested as Julian Sark in ALIAS and I was really hoping to see some of that stone cold villainy, only to be left with that WTF feeling.

9) Oliver Queen: I know he is the main character, and this may seem nit-picky, but I just couldn’t care about him. First, he looks too much like an unshaven Robin, a la the Chris O’Donnell days. Second, he doesn’t have an expressive face. Third, I found myself wishing for the “Weepy” hero from The Cape, instead of this guy – and THAT is never a good sign.

10) The Women: They are all just so juvenile. There wasn’t a scene in which I felt any of them measured up to half the women I know in real life. They don’t come across as tough, smart, capable, or particularly charming. Not a one. And all the half-hearted love triangles are a bit too Desperate Housewives for my personal tastes. The number of times female characters just stormed out of the room instead of standing their ground, really got under my skin.

Wow. When I started writing this I was afraid maybe I had been too critical in my limited viewing, and maybe I was, but as I re-read through these reasons it is pretty clear I didn’t like this show at all. It is kind of amazing I made it all the way through two full episodes, as I am not known for my patience in these matters.

If you disagree, tell me why you love this show. If you agree, did I miss anything?

- M of the FrenzyGals

5 Responses to “10 Reasons Why “Arrow” is NOT on M’s WatchList”

  1. Meme Police Says:

    The meme is Grumpy Cat, not Angry Cat.

  2. Frenzy Gals Says:

    Thank you, I will fix that!

  3. Cody Roberts Says:

    I’m a fan of the show but I’m also a huge comic fan so that may have helped. You should really consider watching a couple of episodes from the beginning rather than starting in the middle. I’ll take your points one at a time:

    1. The flashback sequences are less disjointed when you begin at the beginning. They tell you the story of him surviving on the island and they go in order chronologically. They aren’t flashing back to specific events necessarily but are telling the entire story of his survival. There are some times when I wish they would just knock it off and get back to the show, but they are few. If they don’t seem connected, it’s because they sometimes aren’t, or rather the connection is pretty oblique. For example in one sequence of flashbacks the entire sequence is pretty much to show you the first time he killed a person.

    2. Pretty much all relationships with Oliver are strained because he’s just come back from the dead (so to speak) since he was marooned for 5 years. He’s socially awkward and people don’t know how to behave around him. The mother/daughter dynamic in the Queen household is directly related because Oliver and his father were both lost at sea and it sent mom over the edge. Daughter became a wild child and now she’s trying to fix that. Then there’s the father/daughter relationship in the Lance family. The sister was on the same boat with the Queens and was lost at sea. And just to cause more drama, she wasn’t even supposed to be there because Oliver was dating Laurel at the time…he was just banging her sister. So there’s some blame between Oliver and the Lance family. When the daughter died, mom left and dad threw himself into his work with the police. None of them knows how they are supposed to act toward each other, and it’s all related to the common tragedy.

    3. He actually only uses the voice changer when he’s talking to/around personal friends as far as I’ve noticed. If he’s just taking down a villain he uses his normal voice. He is using a digital voice changer though, and not just a raspy voice. The nerd in my wonders how exactly that works since when he’s in costume it’s just hanging off one of his straps. It really shouldn’t be very effective at disguising his voice.

    4. Yeah, not really a big fan of the costume either. At least it has gussets in the right spots so that it won’t restrict his mobility. On a related note, while he parkours around the city there are a lot of times where he does flips for no apparent reason. I like the sequences where he just gets from A to B in a smooth run much better.

    5. Also not great. It’s effective at shadowing his eyes when the hood is up at least? I don’t know. All I can really say is that his costume and makeup choices are better than the comic book. He was dressed as Robin Hood, complete with little green hat and feather. I would guess that they are trying to get away from the classic domino mask that every single hero from his era wore. Maybe a better chose would have been a bandana with eye holes similar to either Ninja Turtles or Zorro (Antonio Banderas version).

    6. This is the big problem with really any superhero based show that comes out anymore. It’s tough to really fear/care about the bad guy when you only get 42 minutes per episode. The comics have the advantage of their stories lasting across several issues but television shows are mostly not allowed to do that. You can do an overall story arc sure, but you better wrap everything up in a neat bow before the credits roll. The classic villains like Lex Luthor and Joker were actually pretty terrible at first. It took years for them to really become established.

    7. Based on the episodes you watched, those guys have crap characters. There is one where John Barrowman’s character is a badass. Actually, in the episode that just aired this week he’s something of a dark Captain Jack. Blackthorne has been dealt a bad hand for his character. He’s really just a vehicle for conflict between Oliver and Laurel. He doesn’t even appear in the comics at all. Both characters have great actors behind them but fall in the unenviable position of 2nd tier supporting cast. Barrowman has been set up to possibly be the Big Bad for season 1 or at the very least a close lieutenant so maybe we’ll see more of him as the season continues.

    8. I really expected more out of them. Count Vertigo is kind of a terrible villain anyway, and then they made him even worse. Originally he was a European aristocrat able to make you dizzy WITH HIS MIND!!!! I mean it’s a pretty effective ability for a fighter, but come on! That’s a terrible evil superpower! “Don’t make me cause you to fall down the stairs!” Then they turned around and made him an evil drug dealer. Terrible. Cyrus Vance was another made up character for the show. I liked where they went with the cold calculating bad guy, mostly because I like those, but I wish he’d had more screen time.

    9. I don’t particularly care for his portrayal of Arrow just because it’s very cold and dispassionate. Arrow is supposed to be one of the more passionate heroes because he’s actually a normal human without any sort of superpowers. Years ago in the comics he lost all of his fortune and became a champion of the little guy against the big corporations and in many ways against the government. He always had a sort of righteous anger about how the normal people of the city were being treated. He’s definitely got the rage part down on the TV series, but the whole ‘caring’ part isn’t really coming across. I’m hoping that he finishes up his current vendetta by the end of season one and moves on to something else. The problem for the writers is that the book of bad dudes is an excellent plot device so they’ll probably hang on to it for a while.

    10. It honestly seems like they’re holding their breath on all the female leads. Oliver didn’t have a little sister in the comics, but her nickname in the show is “Speedy” which is the name of Green Arrow’s sidekick. However, we’ve also recently met Roy Harper who is the real name of Speedy. To add to that, Roy is wearing a red hoody in his scenes and show a high level of physical agility and Speedy is essentially the same hero as Green Arrow except wears red. Laurel in the comics goes by Dinah Lance and is the Black Canary. I’m not really sure if they’ll ever go that route with the television character but it would probably help. I thought that her character really improved during the few episodes when she was directly working with Arrow to stop those bad guys that the law couldn’t touch. I wish the love triangles would stop, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. The downside of dating a superhero is that it’s a real good way to get killed if you’re not a super yourself.

    Overall, I like the show. There’s some work to be done there definitely, but it has really grabbed my attention which is something a lot of shows can’t do anymore. I do wish they would change his catchphrase/battlecry thing. “YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY!” is probably one of the worst challenge statements I’ve ever heard. Maybe go with an actual description of what the guy did? I don’t know. It would seem a lot more condemning if he were to read off a list of his crimes and the people he actually hurt.

  4. Frenzy Gals Says:

    Thank you for the thoughtful and complete response, Cody. I was wondering about the flashbacks making more sense from the beginning, but I missed the first episodes and coming in where I did has not sold the show very well. It does seem like you agree with some of my points and are able to overlook them. Kudos to you for that. :)

    I think we all have our preferences and we know pretty early on whether we like something or not. It probably helps that you are familiar with the characters outside of the show so you already have your fondness for them. Trust me, I have favorite fictional characters I am fiercely protective of and will watch just about anything they are in (that is the only way I got all the way through the Miracle Day series of Torchwood).

    I am really curious, from a social science standpoint, How much time are people willing to invest before they decide whether they like something or not? One hour? 5 Episodes? 6 Seasons? We probably all have different breaking points, but it is intriguing. -M

  5. JustinD Says:

    I barely knew anything about Green Arrow in the comics world, (Although I did love his appearance in The Dark Knight Returns!) so I wasn’t particularly invested in this show, but I’ll give any superhero story a shot. I caught part of the first episode and changed channels early on. There just wasn’t anything interesting enough to me to spend my time on. Now, sadly, this has become “that show” that comes on before Supernatural…


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