Billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home to Starling City after going missing following a boating accident years earlier. Having been gone for 5 years, his family and friends presumed he was dead along with his father and his girlfriend’s sister. On the outside Oliver appears to be the same person he always was but secretly he spends his evenings as a hooded vigilante exacting revenge upon the people who wronged his father and Starling City. Unaware that his own mother is part of a conspiracy, Oliver enlists the help of his bodyguard Diggle (David Ramsey) to help him carry out his quest and make Starling City a safer place.
Arrow was one of the most-hyped shows of 2012 before it had even aired a single episode. Following Smallville’s end, it’s no surprise that US network The CW looked hard for another comic book-related series to fill the void. They got more than they bargained for with Arrow when it pulled in stellar ratings and went on to be one of the network’s highest-rated shows. It fared similarly here in the UK on Sky 1 and has found a loyal audience that comes back week-on-week. What is the secret to the show’s success?
There are so many things about Arrow that makes it such a fantastic show. It’s grittier and darker than Smallville ever was showing the underbelly of a large city that is rife with crime. At the head of the show is Stephen Amell as Oliver who is a powerful force not only in physique but also acting ability. He perfectly encapsulates both Oliver and the vigilante (never referred to in this season as Green Arrow) putting in an impressive performance and making us all feel guilty we cancelled our gym membership. Alongside him is the team of Diggle and IT expert Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) who become the backbone of the vigilante’s operations whilst helping Oliver hide his secret from the world.
On the other side of things there’s Oliver’s ex-girlfriend Laurel (Katie Cassidy) who is obsessed with the vigilante and her father Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) who is determined to arrest the vigilante and make him pay for his crimes. Of course conflict between daughter and father is high and the vigilante puts a huge strain on their relationship throughout the first season. There’s also Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) the father of Oliver’s best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) who could be responsible for the dirty dealings of the city and is thick-as-thieves with the Queen’s matriarch Moira (Susanna Thompson).
Each episode of the show contains a split narrative. On the one hand you get to see Oliver as he adjusts to life in Starling City and taking over his father’s company, but on the other you see what he endured on the island which explains the reasons for his revenge request in the present day. This is the area of the show that we felt was its weakest links at times because we felt the past held up the present. We understand that backstory is loved by fanboys but we could have done with just that little bit less of it over the first season.
By the end of the season the show really finds its feet and it ends with a stunning race against time that threatens devastation over Starling City’s poor neighbourhood The Glades. Towards the end of the season we also get the fantastic Colton Haynes as Roy Harper who will go on to play an important part in the Green Arrow’s story.
Extras on the Blu-ray release are plentiful. As well as getting an Ultraviolet copy of the season, fans can also enjoy a wide array of special features. Alongside unaired scenes and a gag reel, there are a handful of featurettes taking you into the world of Arrow. Arrow Comes Alive looks at the transition from comic book to screen whilst Arrow: Fight School/Stunt School takes you behind-the-scenes of the show’s magnificent and jaw-dropping effects and fights. There’s also a featurette showing the cast and creators at Paleyfest earlier this year.
Arrow: The Complete First Season is a great example of how a comic book should be turned into a TV show. It takes risks, is full of twists and suspense, and for the most part stays true to the source material. If you like your TV shows pumped full of adrenaline, action and plenty of buff men with their shirts off then you’ll love Arrow. Season Two has just started here in the UK and it’s looking like it’s going to be even better.