22nd Sep2013

‘Arrow: The Complete First Season’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Arrow-S1

After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime.

Based on the iconic DC Comics character Green Arrow,  Arrow: The Complete First Season is a modern-day re-imagining of the superhero for television, influenced by the darker tone of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy turning the once-super hero into a hero every bit as dangerous as the criminals he’s hunting. And whilst Arrow may be tonally similar to the big-screen Bat-trilogy, the series is heavily inspired by the well-regarded comic Green Arrow: Year One – by writer Andy Diggle (who is name-checked in the show fact-fans) and artist Jock – a book from which the series takes the idea of Oliver Queen stranded on a desert island; as well as the seductive assassin, originally a drug kingpin in the comic, China White.

It only takes a handful of episodes to realise Arrow is a superhero show unlike any other on television, now, or in the past – there are much more dangerous themes running throughout the series and for once this is a show that is not afraid to throw other superheroes and super-villians into the mix from the get-go (the awesome Deathstroke appears very early on in the first series for example) instead of teasing characters a la Smallville and its ilk. It’s all a refreshing change of pace from superhero shows we’ve seen before – story lines don’t drag on, and there are surprising developments for both those that are familiar with the character and not.

Whilst the pacing moves quickly, Arrow doesn’t move quite so quickly when it comes to character development – Oliver’s time on the island is told through flashback throughout the first season, slowly unveiling his new motivations and back-story; and the supporting cast have similarly well-paced storylines… Yet the show isn’t afraid to admit it’s based on a comic: our hero still has almost super-human abilities, including a cat-like agility that makes actor Stephen Amell look like one hell of a bad-ass (I really need the number of his personal trainer) and the action is a frenetic as anything drawn on the page.

This DVD boxset contains all 23 episodes from the Arrow‘s first season, plus over an hour of special features content, including a documentary, two behind-the-scenes featurettes, highlights from the Arrow panel at Paley Fest 2013, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

One of the best “superhero” shows in recent memory, Arrow: The Complete First Season is released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday September 23rd, courtesy of Warner Home Video.

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