Critics’ Roundtable: “Arrow”

Last week, the new CW series Arrow premiered to solid ratings from viewers who were more than likely just as curious to see the Green Arrow TV adaptation as much as they were about star Stephen Amell’s much-talked about (and showcased) body.

So how did the show fare? Is Arrow going to keep those viewers around and live a long life on the CW?

AfterElton gathered a group of TV critics to chat about the merits of Amell and Arrow and predict the show’s future. Featured in our roundtable are Laura Prudom (Associate TV Editor, HuffPost TV), Craig Byrne (webmaster/editor, &, Damian Holbrook (Senior Writer, TV Guide Magazine), Lauren DiMascio (Contributing TV Editor, and our own Jim Halterman.

What else does Stephen Amell have going for him on Arrow besides, um, lucky towel?

AfterElton: The casting of Stephen Amell – yes, he’s got the bod, thank you very much – but what do you think of his acting chops?

Craig Byrne: I think the biggest thing that jumps out to me about Stephen Amell is how dedicated he was to the role. Even before the pilot shot, he worked out, dieted, and has continued to be in top physical shape to play Oliver Queen. The fact that so many people are looking at his chest right now… well, he built that. I can’t think of many actors who would work this hard to get it right, but Stephen has. Regarding his acting… he’s good. I’m not totally sold on the voiceovers, but hopefully they’ll go away after a few weeks.

Laura Prudom:The rockin’ bod certainly helps, and I also think he has the stature to pull off the action scenes convincingly, which is half the battle on a show like this, where you don’t want to cut away to a stunt guy in a wig who looks nothing like the actor (looking at you, Buffy). I think Amell has the chops to settle into the role, although in the pilot, I was more compelled by his pre-Island “douchebag” version of Ollie who had oodles of personality, because the Oliver that comes back from the island is a lot more subdued and plays things closer to the vest.

Damian Holbrook: I’m thrilled that Amell can actually act. He’s got the gravitas for this broken character and really brings some interesting shades to the heavier drama. Many times we get bodies with no skill to carry more than just action but this guy and his life-affirming right-pack deliver on both levels.

AE: The pilot is a tad on the dark side, justifiably so based on the story, but do you think the show needs to incorporate a balance with a lighter, more playful side moving forward?

Lauren DiMascio: I think “a light, more playful side” will be incorporated as we see more episodes of Arrow. Especially as we get glimpses of Oliver pre-shipwreck and when he is pretending to be the same old Oliver from those days. I’m hoping that well see some in his relationships with both his sister, Katie and his friends as well as they both adjust to his return.

Damian Holbrook: I can actually tell you that there will be an infusion of lighter material. We’ll see humor from Tommy, Ollie’s bodyguard and surprisingly, Ollie himself. That is definitely needed. What I’m noticing about Revenge is, if it weren’t for Nolan, that show would be nothing but dour socialites bitching about each other. Dramas—especially those with over-the-top angles—need to give us some reason to smile now and then.

Jim Halterman: This being the CW, Arrow won’t sway far from the formula set up on action series like Nikita, Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. The humor will weave in and out and, thankfully, Amell will show that he’s adept at both.

Katie Cassidy (yep, David’s daughter) plays potential love interest Laurel (a.k.a. Black Canary)

AE: A lot of show is based on the chemistry between Amell and Katie Cassidy. Not just romantically but whenever her character becomes Black Canary. What do you think? Are the sparks big enough at this point?

Craig Byrne: I’d have to see more of the two of them together to know for sure. To be honest, I’m actually more curious at this point how he will do with Jessica de Gouw, who plays the Huntress. When we were up on set it looks like the two of them had some good spark going on.

Laura Prudom: I’m not wholly sold on their chemistry from the pilot, since both are holding a lot back and there’s a lot of resentment on Laurel’s part, but I’m hoping once the actors have become more familiar with each other, the characters will loosen up and the writers will have them flirt a little more.

Lauren DiMascio: There are definite sparks between Amell and Cassidy thus far. I mean, how could there not be, right? Look at how attractive they both are. I also think their chemistry/complicated relationship will help bring the non-comic book/action adventure fans to the show. They’ll go for the abs and stay for the relationship drama.


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