Arrow1coverGrade:  B
Entire family:  No
2012, 972 min. (23 episodes), Color
Unrated (would be PG-13 for violence)
Warner Bros.
Aspect ratio:  1.78:1
Featured audio:  DTS-HD MA 5.1
Bonus features:  C+
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UV Copy
Trailer

If your family consists of parents and a teenage boy and you’re looking to bond, Arrow can be a good alternative to video games. The series appeals to boys, especially, because it’s based on the DC Comics vigilante Green Arrow, who fights crime in his city but isn’t appreciated by police or the media because of his methods. He doesn’t work within the system. He works from a list of people his father gave him—rich people who have built their fortunes by abusing and taking advantage of others, making the city worse for their wear.

The action is top-notch, the acting is solid, and the characters are interesting. There’s graphic violence of the PG-13 sort, but there are also twists.  

Makers of this 2013 action-drama have tried to incorporate elements of Lost in order to provide some flashback texture to an otherwise straight revenge/scourge plot week after week. Billionaire Oliver Queen went out on his father’s boat with his girlfriend’s sister (whom this spoiled rich boy was also “dating”) when a storm hit. She was sucked out to sea, but the men survived (yeah, this is why the series appeals mostly to males). The father makes a huge sacrifice so his son can survive and atone for his mistakes, which are all chronicled in a book of former business partners and “like” minds.

Queen was marooned on an island for five years, and he wasn’t alone. There were people there who wanted to (and DID) hurt him badly, and others who were tough on him because they wanted him to survive. Other things happened, and flashbacks tease viewers the way Lost did with its disjointed narrative. One thing is certain: he’s no longer the irresponsible bad boy he once was.

ArrowscreenLike Bruce Wayne/Batman, Queen assumes a dual identity as himself and The Vigilante (as the media first calls him), with plenty of tension on the work and home fronts. His best friend (Colin Donnell) is dating his girlfriend (Katie Cassidy), an attorney he dissed by dating her sister when he felt the two of them getting too serious. Like her father, a police detective (Paul Blackthorne) who wants to bring The Vigilante to justice, she blames him for Sara’s death at sea. Then there’s Queen’s sister, Thea (Willa Holland), who gets into wild behavior and drugs because she’s still angry at the loss of her father and a brother who was also thought dead until he resurfaced. Meanwhile, Queen’s mother (Susanna Thompson) married her dead husband’s CFO, and that’s not setting well with Oliver—especially when the two hire a bodyguard (David Ramsey) he doesn’t want or need.

It might sound soapy, but action takes center stage each episode, with Arrow using the bow and arrow that helped him survive on that island. Characters find out about his identity, characters work with/for him, and, as happens with any “superhero,” people close to him suddenly find their lives in danger. Throw in a Russian mob, an Asian mob known as the Triad gang, a copycat killer, and various murderers working alone, and there are plenty wrongs for Arrow to avenge.

Fans of action films will enjoy this series immensely, but those who prefer the complexity of a drama like Lost will wish for more island flashbacks and a little more substance and variety apart from the formula of “here’s the next name on the list . . . .”

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