Arrow gets off to a lumpy start, but it soon picks up, with Stephen Amell in particular visibly growing into his role as the show goes on. He has this fantastic combination of charm and absolute, dead-eyed shock that marks his Ollie out as very different to his amiable Tony Stark-a-like counterpart in Smallville, played by Justin Hartley.
It doesn’t detract from Hartley’s role either; it’s just a very different take on the character.
David Ramsey as Diggle, Ollie’s splendidly grumpy Alfred, stand in is another stand out and the relationship between the two men is the fast track that Ollie’s growing morality travels along.
Paul Blackthorne also impresses as Detective Quentin Lance, the father of Ollie’s ex-girlfriend Laurel (Katie Cassidy), and her sister who Ollie was sleeping with on the night his voyage began its five year layover on Suckhole Island. Also, John Barrowman doesn’t so much steal every scene as buy them out, repackage them as his own and sell them back to you at twice the cost.
Colin Donnell also does very impressive work as Ollie’s best friend and, to some extent, old self. The show is at its strongest when dealing with these two party boys stumbling towards adulthood and, thankfully, it does that a lot.
It’s not all good news though. Colin Salmon is wasted as Oliver’s new stepfather Walter, and Willa Holland as wayward sister Thea and Susanna Thompson as secretive mother Moira both find themselves with little to do besides act out and be stern respectively at the start of the season. Things aren’t helped by a take on the Huntress that brings the show to a juddering halt for two full episodes. Worse, the excellent Cassidy winds up having relatively little to do until the second half of the run.
Despite these problems, Arrow is an impressive show. The nested flashbacks to Ollie’s time on the island have some real surprises in them and it picks up real momentum in the closing stages. Besides, it’s weirdly appropriate to have a show about a hero learning his trade as he goes doing the same thing.
It’s flawed, but fun and full of potential.