In its pursuit of young women viewers, the CW has at times relied on such obvious strategies as soap operas, like its reboot of 90210, and women-centric shows such as the new Emily Owens, M.D., a younger-generation Grey’s Anatomy imitator, which premieres on Oct. 16. But the network has also believed that young women like fantasy adventure — and that the boys may come along, too. Hence the long runs for Supernatural, currently in its eighth season, and the now-concluded Smallville.
Hence also the new series, Arrow, which premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday on the network.
This is the latest descendant of the old Green Arrow comic books, part of the same creative world as Superman and Batman. The Green Arrow dressed in a manner reminiscent of Robin Hood; he packed a bow and a quiver full of trick arrows for different jobs. Like Batman, his secret identity was that of a wealthy man, in this case Oliver Queen.
The CW series begins with the transition of Oliver, the young heir to a fortune in fictional Starling City, into the vigilante known as the Arrow. Oliver, once a tabloid-filling wastrel, disappeared following a mysterious shipwreck; as the series begins, five years have passed and Oliver, long thought dead, is found alive on a Pacific island.
Alive, of course, and changed, much as Starling City has changed in his absence. In public, Oliver is still the playboy of the past. In private, though, he sees considerable injustice and corruption in the city. And with skills acquired somehow during his absence, he is ready to make things better.
Among the new network dramas, this is second on my best list, behind Last Resort. It has considerable flair, a dark look that works well with the material and, in Stephen Amell, a lead actor who is effective both as Oliver and as the Arrow.
The premiere has its silly moments, particularly when it tries for the big action sequence. But there are mysteries aplenty, not only among the people trying to figure out the returned Oliver, but among those running Starling City, whose agendas are not all clear. The flashbacks to Oliver’s shipwrecked past are good, and Stephen Amell plays both Oliver and the Arrow with skill. It’s all worth a look.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can reach him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.