TV Series Review
Stop me if you've heard this story before: Billionaire playboy suffers massive personal tragedy … which turns him into a mask-wearing vigilante determined to protect his beloved hometown.
You have? Well, so surprise there. The superhero world is littered with crusading billionaire playboys—so much so that we have to wonder why Bill Gates wastes his money on charity work and hasn't started buying high-tech crime-fighting gear and domino masks. What's his problem? Does he have a bad back, perhaps?
No matter. The most popular moneyed do-gooder in the game today—or, more accurately, the most popular one who has a show on the CW network—is not Batman or Iron Man or even Mr. Gates, but Oliver Queen, a fellow known in comic book lore as the Green Arrow.
Tie a Bow on It
Arrow is an almost paint-by-numbers illustration of the life of a superhero … as interpreted by the youth-and-relationships-obsessed CW. That's not entirely a put-down. He is, after all, at least trying to do the right thing, which is more than we can say for the folks he's fighting.
It wasn't always so. Oliver was once the enfant terrible of Starling City's ludicrously wealthy and powerful Queen family. There never was a party he didn't like, a drink he didn't quaff or a girlfriend he didn't cheat on with her sister. But his attitude begins to change after his father's ship wrecks, killing almost everyone on board and leaving young Oliver marooned on a mysterious island (its Chinese name translating to Purgatory). There he is taught belated lessons of right and wrong, of loyalty, of courage and (most importantly) how to shoot arrows really, really straight.
Flashbacks show that Oliver's path to good-dom wasn't exactly straight as an, um, arrow. He spent some time in the Russian mob, as we see from numerous flashbacks. But hey, he gets there eventually. Fast-forward a few years, and Oliver's a real do-gooder, determined to clean up the newly renamed Star City either in a suit (as the city's new mayor) or in, well, another sort of suit (as a hooded vigilante, toting around a quiverful of high-tech arrows to harass and occasionally kill evildoers). We see him live for the good of the city (as he sees it) rather than the next big party. He tries to be a better person to the folks in his life whom he might've hurt before. And he risks pretty much everything when he goes out to deal with all those desperados.
He's got a bevy of helpers these days, most of whom also enjoy wearing a mask or a cowl when they're taking on the town. Currently, his team includes John Diggle, who serves as Oliver's bodyguard and (since that seems like a pretty boring job these days) fellow vigilante. He prowls the streets of Season 5 with loose cannon Rene Ramirez, a.k.a. Wild Dog; Curtis Holt, a gay, married man who becomes Mister Terrific; fellow arrow-slinger Evelyn Sharp/Artemis; and Rory Regan, a guy still dealing with the death of his family and destruction of his hometown who dresses in supernatural rags and goes, naturally, by the name of Ragman. Meanwhile, Felicity is a full-time tech-wiz and Oliver's sometime love interest.
Stringing Us Along
Batman would be aghast at the ethos of Oliver and his pals, though, given the Dark Knight's no-killing creed. While Oliver's vigilante slayings aren't necessarily graphic, they're inherently disturbing. He's the show's hero, remember—a self-appointed avenging angel who's trying to make us all safer. But considering that his idea of making things "safer" is through assault and battery and the occasional murder … well, even Iron Man might get all high and mighty about that.
Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver, says Arrow's penchant for killing isn't admirable, but necessary within the context of the show.
"The central character of all the great shows on television, and I don't list these names to draw comparisons, but as an example—Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper—these are all incredibly flawed people that do regrettable things, terrible things, unforgivable things," he said back in 2012 in an interview with SFX magazine. "But as long as they're pursuing an overall goal, and as long as they engage the audience, that's why those shows resonate. I've always wanted to play somebody who was unflinching, who set up for something and followed through with it. That's why we have to kill people on the show, because he's trying to clean up the city. To think that there wouldn't be collateral damage, that would be farcical."
The show has other problems, too. Oliver regularly breaks the law to defend his fine city. CW loves its soapy plotlines, and Arrow is filled with suds. Relationships can get hot and steamy. Language, in between the twanging of bow strings, can be a bit rough. Also, because superhero worlds can sometimes be filled with questionable theology, you never know when you might run into themes involving reincarnation, immortality or godlike beings.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen; Katie Cassidy as Dinah 'Laurel' Lance; Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn; David Ramsey as John Diggle; Willa Holland as Thea Queen; Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen; Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance; Colin Salmon as Walter Steele; Josh Segarra as Adrian Chase; Echo Kellum as Curtis Holt; Madison McLaughlin as Evelyn Sharp; Rick Gonzalez as Rene Ramirez; Alexander Calvert as Lonnie Machin; Joe Dinicol as Rory/Ragman; Chad L. Coleman as Tobias Church