Arrow2coverGrade: B+/A-
Entire family: No
2013, 1014 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

As I wrote about Arrow: Season 1, if your family consists of parents and teenage boys and you’re looking to bond, this show will grab their attention. Loosely based on the DC Comics vigilante Green Arrow, the popular action series spotlights a hero who fights crime but isn’t appreciated by either the police or the media, largely because of his above-the-law methods and the collateral damage that seems to follow him. In Season 1, we saw the origin of Arrow and the madness behind his method: rich people built their fortunes by abusing and taking advantage of others, and he followed a list his father had given him in order to exact what some would call “revenge” and others “justice.”

That first season grew a little tedious because every episode seemed a dead ringer for the previous one. It was like watching My Name Is Earl without the humor. But Season Two had a bigger budget to work with and the production values are noticeably slicker, while more money was obviously paid to writers. The scripts are a huge improvement, and the special effects and action are cranked up a notch to where they’re right up there with big-screen FX. 

Arrow2screenLike Bruce Wayne, that other rich-guy vigilante, Arrow/Oliver Queen leads a double life, and the personal and “professional” lives often overlap or clash this season. Stephen Amell returns as the hero, while David Ramsey plays his bodyguard, accomplice, and stand-in, and Katie Cassidy provides much more than a love interest. She’s a kidnapping target, and there are plenty of run-ins with villains who are, in the tradition of comics, larger-than-life—characters like Slade Wilson (Deathstroke), Brother Blood, The Count, Cyrus Gold (The Acolyte), Shrapnel, and The Bronze Tiger, along with minor villains like The Huntress, Deadshot, and an organization known as the League of Assassins.

If it were a crime drama filmed in the ‘30s, Arrow would qualify as film noir because of the emphasis on shadows and darkness. And it IS gritty and violent, so the PG-13 rating is pretty firm. Twenty-three episodes are included, and unlike Season 1 they’re less self-contained, with the plots arcing beyond the one-hour segments. That too is an improvement over the first season. It’s pretty easy to get hooked on this series, if you’re not opposed to a little comic-style vigilante violence. Season 1 couldn’t make up its mind whether it wanted to be another Lost or another superhero movie, but this season the show finds its identity and hits its stride.

Here’s a listing of the episodes:

City of Heroes
Broken Dolls
League of Assassins
Keep Your Enemies Closer
State V. Queen
The Scientist
Three Ghosts
Blast Radius
Blind Spot
Heir to the Demon
Time of Death
The Promise
Suicide Squad
Birds of Prey
The Man under the Hood
Seeing Red
City of Blood
Streets of Fire