Unlike Arrow, I’m struggling for direction

There comes a point where I haven’t blogged in so long, not publicly anyway, that I feel the need to write something just to keep the creative juices flowing. I’ve had every intention to do some posts, and I even have a few drafts tucked away that I may come back to, but Uni work has been taking over a little bit. At least now I have a temporary reprieve, although this is being dominated by the Rugby League World Cup, where I am volunteering. But less of that now, since I plan to do a post on all that after the final on 30th November at Old Trafford.

I suppose the only logical direction, for me anyway, to go is in the direction of TV. Not literally. There is one show that has been dominating my schedule at the moment: Arrow.

This contains spoiler-y stuff for Arrow

The cast of Arrow

(from L-R) Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), Manu Bennett (Slade Wilson), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak), Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen), David Ramsey (John Diggle), Willa Holland (Thea Queen), Susanna Thompson (Moira Queen)
Image courtesy of http://www.denofgeek.com

Arrow is by far my favourite current TV show out there. After a bipolar first season which saw a slow first half get completely blown away by a mesmerising second half, the second season is pulling out all the stops already. And we’re just five episodes in.

For those not in the know, Arrow is based on the DC Comics hero Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen. Queen was shipwrecked on a Chinese island for five years, and in the Pilot episode of the show he returns to his home town, Starling City. Aside from being a spoilt billionaire thanks his family business Queen Consolidated, Queen is now a skilled archer (I know, shocking).

The pilot was really good, for a pilot. Obviously there’s only so much that can be done in such an episode because you need to introduce the characters and give them basic traits, but here I found it balanced it all both perfectly (including flashbacks which become a major part of the series) unlike some recent shows *cough* Agents of Shield *cough*.

Having originally seen the pilot at an advanced viewing in July 2012 at San Diego Comic Con, I couldn’t wait for the season to start. What happened next was nearly caused me to give up on the show before it started.

The first half of Season One, as I previously said, was dull. Really quite boring. It was soon obvious that Stephen Amell (Oliver) couldn’t act, he had little-to-no chemistry with female lead Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance, Ollie’s childhood friend), and Willa Holland (Thea, Ollie’s younger sister) didn’t capture the hearts of viewers early. Actually, Thea was the focal point of many of the early episodes, and was one of the only ones to really care about Ollie’s experiences on ‘the island’. The problem is, I personally couldn’t have given a flying monkeys if Thea had popped it (as she so nearly did a couple of times early on) because she was just annoying and didn’t add much to the show.

The better characters early on were John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). Diggle, or Dig as he is usually known, is an ex-soldier who was hired by Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), Ollie’s mother as her son’s bodyguard, although he soon became aware of his alter-ego and started to work with him. Felicity adds a little comic relief to the show, often accidentally piping up with double entendres in an adorable way, but also becomes a more useful character later on as she becomes Ollie’s tech gal when he’s off out skewering people with arrows.

However two cast members were added later on which arguably saved the show. They go by the names of John Barrowman and Manu Bennett. Barrowman is no stranger to the geek world, playing Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who before playing the same character in its spinoff, Torchwood. He is added around five episodes in, but it takes a couple more before we find out a wildly important fact, which I won’t reveal. He then dons an alter ego himself and becomes probably the most interesting character of the series.

Bennett is a little less well-known, but the Kiwi actor has been making a name for himself in the last few years, most notably as Crixus in Spartacus (the first season had the subtitle Blood and Sand, for a bit of reference) and as The Pale Orc in the Hobbit trilogy. The great hulk of a man, who plays Slade Wilson (comic fans should recognise that name) makes his first appearance in episode 13, and is an integral part of Ollie’s island adventures. To reveal much more would spoil it big-time, but he starts to train our hero and as a member of the Australian Secret Service, gives him the skills he needs to survive. Wilson has also been a brilliant character in Season 2 and it’s getting exciting as we slowly find out his motives for his actions on the Island.

Now onto Season 2, which picks up the chronology pretty much straight off. The DC references pick up, although some are in there purely for the comic fans and nothing more (probably). Thea’s boyfriend, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), is in it a lot more after being somewhat infrequent during his supporting role in Season 1, and anyone who knows DC lore (or has access to Google) will be able to tell where his storyline is going. The writers have even been dropping subtle hints about it, such as his clothes. Anyway, he’s been fantastic so far and his relationship with Thea is really blossoming, making him choose between his “destiny” and his family in a way not dissimilar to Ollie.

There has also been another superhero added into the mix, another DC favourite: Black Canary. To reveal her real identity would ruin some stuff big-time (I only said “spoiler-y”), but she’s given another dimension to the show and the League of Assassins has been mentioned by her more than once. As has the name Ra’s al Ghul. The writers of the show also said a man by the name of Barry Allen would be entering the fray soon. Mr Allen is better known as the Flash.

So it’s clear that Season 2 will be a cracker, and I, for one, am really excited for the rest of it to see how it comes together. One of the best shows out there by far.

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