You Have Failed This City
Most of the new comic book related TV that is coming out this year has been from DC comics. We have The Flash, Gotham, Constantine, and eventually Supergirl. Each show will be fairly different and have different networks and tones but one thing they all share is that without Arrow they would have never been made. Arrow was DC Comics first foray into TV in the new modern “Iron Man” age of blockbuster comic book properties. While there is a explosion of the genre right now it certainly isn’t the first time that DC Comics has made its way into television, hell its not even the first time The CW has entered into comic books.
While historically it goes all the way back to the live action TV series, The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves in 1952, the most memorable (to me at least), is the 1966 Batman live action television show. It ran from 1966 to 1968 with a total of 120 episodes and for a long period of time was the definitive take on the character of Batman. There were a couple more shows such as The Secrets of Isis and Shazam! in the 70’s before the next breakout hit of Wonder Woman in 1975.
Wonder Woman ran for 3 seasons from 1975 to 1979 and a total of 59 episodes. Besides Batman, Wonder Woman, and the live action Hulk series most of the comic book television since then has been largely forgettable. There have been some standout successes like the 1993’s Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and 2001’s very successful Smallville. But looking at a list of shows that were made it largely consists of shows I had no idea existed. There was Superboy, Swamp Thing, Birds of Prey, and even a 90’s Flash. Overall there have been 14 shows that have come and gone with maybe three being real successes. The point of all this is that even though a lot of these are properties we all know very well, its still hard to break out and for a TV show to become a real success. Arrow, now starting its third season, can not safely add it self to that list of successes. It is also safe to say had Arrow not been a success there would be no Gotham, Flash, Constantine, or Supergirl.
The season three premiere brings us back into what is the new status quo for Starling City. Recouping from the aftermath of the mirakuru Deathstroke army, things appear to have calmed down. Oliver and and the team back to taking down criminals one by one and are slowly cleaning up the city of organized crime entirely. The police no longer see the Arrow as a threat and even announce that they will no longer be perusing him for criminal charges. There are some seeds of deeper plot points to come but it really culminates in a cliff hanger at the end of the episode.
What I Liked
Arrow has really found its groove. The beginning of the episode they take down some unnamed criminal and you see every one working together as a well oiled machine. Sure Thea is somewhere unknown and Black Canary isn’t really a part of the core team now but you don’t have the bickering and second guessing as you used to. Whatever hangups every one seemed to have before are now gone and you get the feeling they are finally really working together as a team. This of course doesn’t last long, which has something to do with that cliffhanger ending but you do get a sense that every one is on the same page now. I liked this part probably the most, you get the sense that every one has been through some stuff and that they are better as a team because of it.
What I Didn’t Like
I love Felicity Smoak. She is one of, if not my favorite character on the show. It’s kind of well known at this point that she was only suppose to be on the show for one episode but due to the positive reception by fans she came back for a couple more episodes, and then eventually became part of the main cast. That being said there is a quick and dumb romance subplot between her and Oliver that was really annoying. It’s not that I don’t want the characters to get together, but they so clearly are not going to end up together they abandon the subplot as quickly as they introduce it. People generally don’t stay together forever and if they had decided to do this romance plot for a little while and have it not work out I think that would have been fine. It just felt very contrived and as an excuse to have some shock and awe and shake up the status quo a bit. They introduced a new character of Ray Palmer (The Atom) and its pretty obvious they are implying that him and Felicity will get together. Which again is totally ok. Just don’t set the groundwork for the next relationship while trying to pretend that her and Oliver are going to get together. It undercuts the impact and makes the whole thing feel exploitative.
Besides my annoyance at the Felicity / Oliver love subplot it was a really solid episode and I am excited for the things to come. I didn’t see the first season of Arrow until the second had started but after a binge watch of it I became a big fan and am now hooked. The cliffhanger at the end was out of no where and as sad as it is I’m looking forward to seeing what that will mean for the future of the show.