Critics’ Roundtable: “Arrow”

Arrow critics roundtable

Like any new series, the first season is all about finding out what works, what doesn’t and hopefully getting enough of an audience to right those wrongs for season 2. Let’s look at the CW’s Arrow.

The comic book based series, developed by Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg and TheBacklot 40 member Greg Berlantipremiered in the fall of 2012 with much attention predominantly for the ripped physique of star Stephen Amell (as vigilante Oliver Queen). However, as much as we love a show that gives us lots of finely sculpted pecs, bicepts and abs, for a show to truly succeed in the TV biz these days it needs to have some substance beneath the eye candy. Thankfully, Arrow delivered.

Halfway through the first season, the show found its tone and was able to combine humor, sex appeal, and lots of nods to Green Arrow comics lore. Plus, the show has created one of the most solid casts in the genre, with smart use of guest stars (John Barrowman, Seth Gabel) and nicely developed supporting characters like David Ramsey‘s Diggle,  Emily Bett Rickards‘ Felicity Smoak and Colton Haynes‘ Roy Harper

That was Season One. How’s Season Two doing?  To find out if all the pieces are coming together as they should for Arrow’s second season,  we asked a crew of TV Critics – Craig Byrne  (webmaster/editor, KsiteTV.com GreenArrowTV.com), Laura Prudom (TV writer, ScreenFad.com), Tina Charles (co-founder, TVGoodness.com) and our own Chris O’Guinn, who covers Arrow for TheBacklot - for their thoughts on the show.

Stephen Amell, Emily Bett RickardsStephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards in action on Arrow

Overall, how are you feeling about Season 2 thus far? Off to a good start or in need of some fine-tuning?

Craig Byrne:  I am incredibly impressed with where Arrow has gone with the second season. As a comic book fan, it has become exactly the kind of series that I wanted it to be, and I feel that the show learned from anything that may not have worked in the first half of Season 1 to become something even stronger now. Characters I once might have disliked, are given decent storylines, and all in all, the show has become the kind of mix that any comic book show could ever dream of.

Laura Prudom: Season 2 already seems impressively confident and focused in its execution — it feels like all thriller, no filler, and it’s packing a lot of story into 42 minutes every week. I’m glad to see the show expanding its mythology and embracing its comic book roots even more boldly this year.

Chris O’Guinn: I think season 2 started off great. They recaptured all of the pathos and the energy of the amazing season one finale and then took it to the next level. I am very happy with the new direction of Detective Lance, who was insufferable in the first season. The cop who fights for what is right at the cost of his own career is a compelling story. And Thea has grown up, which is a huge relief. It’s ridiculous that she’s running Verdant, but I can overlook that as long as it means no more “poor little rich girl” tantrums.

Tina Charles: I don’t know if I am surprised by this, but I am loving this season so far. Even more than season one. The Oliver-Felicity-Diggle quality time is satisfying to me. I’m enjoying the island flashbacks more than ever before. Detective (or should I say Officer) Lance is a stronger character now that he has allied himself with Arrow. The only aspect I’m really struggling with is Laurel. But I did last season as well.

The Black Canary being present now — what do you think the character brings to the show? 

Craig Byrne: She kicks ass in a way that I’m not 100% sure we’ll be able to see Katie Cassidy doing. I would have never expected to see the Black Canary so soon, but that mask, that costume, and the clever sonic device… I like her and would like to see more of her.

Laura Prudom: With five years of Oliver’s time away from Starling City to fill in, it makes sense that not every moment of those five years was spent on the island, and tying that period to Sarah’s fate is a fascinating twist that I cant wait to see play out. Caity Lotz and Stephen Amell have great chemistry, and it’s nice to have yet another ass-kicking woman on the show. I think Sarah brings plenty of dramatic story possibilities for Ollie, Laurel and Quentin Lance, as well as the chance for more awesome fight scenes featuring a strong female character — seems like a win/win!

Chris O’Guinn: Well, Black Canary has brought with her Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins. So what she is really bringing is some hardcore comic cred. Arrow worked pretty hard to keep it’s DC roots buried in dark world realness in the first season–with the notable exception of Huntress. Canary I think announces the show’s intentions to become more obviously a comic book show.

Tina Charles:  To me, when it comes to the Green Arrow I’ve always thought the Black Canary should be by his side. So I know I’m very interested in finding out how the powers that be are going to handle this very essential relationship. And it gives Oliver someone he can connect with on a deeper level. Someone who knows what he’s been through. She seems to be as damaged an individual as he is. They can relate to each other. They can kick ass together. Her presence just adds that much more depth to Oliver’s character.

Caity Lotz, Stephen AmellCaity Lotz (here with Amell) is a welcome addition as Black Canary (aka Sara Lance)

Are you for or against the story that Sara is alive and Ollie kept it a secret all this time?

Craig Byrne: Even when I saw the pilot, I wondered if Sara was still alive. So, I’m totally fine with it, and I like what it can do for potential character dynamics. Not just with Oliver, Quentin, and Laurel, but with new characters like Sin, too.

Laura Prudom: It seems like Ollie still believed Sarah died, just a little later than her apparent drowning on the Queen’s Gambit, so I don’t mind him keeping the exact circumstances of her supposed demise a secret, especially since learning that she’d seemingly gone over to the dark side would’ve been impossible for him to explain to Laurel and Quentin, and probably even more painful for them to hear.

Chris O’Guinn: I’m for her being alive. I’m not wild about retconning that Oliver knew she survived the sinking. It’s pretty clear from the writing and the flashbacks that in season one, he was written as believing she died on the boat. I guess they want to add her to the island flashbacks, so that’s why they did it. But I think it would have been better if she came back and Oliver was as shocked as everyone else.

Tina Charles:  Well, I am totally for her being alive. The conflict and the story that results from her mere presence is going to be huge. That Oliver kept the fact she didn’t die when the boat went down is going to be a major bone of contention once the Lances find out. And I loved that scene between Sara and Oliver at the hospital when he urged her to show herself to her family. That he was willing to sacrifice his relationships with Laurel and her dad just so they can be a family again was heartbreaking and it showed how much Oliver has grown.

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