Monday, October 29, 2012

Guilty Pleasure

I must point out that if you live in a metropolis wherein there resides a costumed crime-fighting vigilante, the first person you should suspect as his secret identity is the playboy rich guy who appears to be a drunken womanizer.


Why do I say this? Well, because fiction is filthy with these guys, going way back: The Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Batman, Super Chicken ...

Which brings us to Oliver Queen. Those of you who are old DC comic book fans know him as The Green Arrow, another rich playboy who kicks ass and takes names, aided by a deadly eye and a recurve bow. Had a Robin-like sidekick, Speedy, but apparently the kid hasn't made it into the reboot yet.

Speaking here of the TV version on The CW–and the network alone is enough to tell you it's a guilty pleasure–is simply titled Arrow, and if the arc seems a whole like like Batman's, that's because it was pretty much swiped from the caped crusader lock, stock, and barrel. Well, and maybe a little Hamlet mixed in, you'll see why pretty quickly.

The rich ne'er-do-well playboy's yacht sinks and he's the only survivor. He somehow stays alive on a middle-of-nowhere island somewhere near China, I think, and is rescued five years later. 

As the first couple of episodes unfurl, you learn that things weren't quite what they seemed, on the island or at home, and without too many spoilers, there is Much More Going On than our hero knows about.

First time you see this guy, played by a very fit Stephen Amell, a whole slew of questions pop up, least they did for me. And by the end of the second episode, most of those have been answered; plus, the audience gets shown PDQ that our hero better Trust No One ...

The basic set-up is that on this island, Queen learned some heavy-duty costumed crimefighter stuff, parkour, gymnastics, martial arts, archery, and came back scarred and built like a serious jock. He is determined to fulfill a promise he made to his father, who was on the yacht with Ollie and who didn't make it. (Ollie's girl didn't make it, either, and she just happened to be the sister of his girlfriend, and the daughter of the local police detective who kinda hates Oliver a whole lot.)

There are several flashbacks to bring us up to speed, and nicely done. I speak here as a fan of flashbacks-when they are nicely done.

Two things come to mind here. First, this fellow isn't TV Batman, no batarangs to knock the guns out of the bad guys' hands, no fancy jujitsu flips to toss them silly but unhurt. No, he's closer to the Dark Knight: Arrow throws bad guys off bridges and tall buildings and when he shoots them with his razor-tipped hunting arrows? He shoots to kill. 

How good is he? This is a bowman who can throw a handful of tennis balls down the hallway and pin then all to the wall without a miss. 

I lost tract of the body count, but in the first couple of episodes, he took out more than a few. Cops arrive and found bodies hither and yon.

Little grittier than Smallville ...

Second thing is, it is beautifully staged and photographed. Got guys behind the camera who can set up a great shot and capture it. 

I'm not impressed with the writing, and the plots thus far are so old hat they should be tricornes; still, I've seen a lot worse, and it is, after all, a guilty pleasure ...


AF1 said...

It's my guilty pleasure too. The actor looks the part and I'm intrigued to find out more of the backstory of the island.

steve-vh said...

I've been enjoying it so far as well. Last week's DVR had audio only though. So I guess I'll miss some of the hints.
I'm guessing the bodyguard will become the sidekick.

Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

In many ways, the original of the type was the Count of Monte Cristo. He wasn't portrayed as a drunken womanizer, but he had all the other characteristics: limitless wealth, an unorthodox and esoteric education, and a mysterious and tragic past. Master of disguise, physically gifted athlete, secretly tormented, etc. etc.

Brad said...

His sister's nickname is Speedy, so they'll work that in somehow. Also, the ex-girlfriend? Black Canary. Haven't been paying too much attention to DC comics since the mid 90s, interested to see where they will take this.

So far, it's my #3 guilty pleasure, out of 3. The Walking Dead and Person of Interest being the other 2.

steve-vh said...

Ha, I was right!
The bodyguard is the sidekick!!