Back Comments (1) Share:
Facebook Button
Feature
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 in this hard-hitting action series. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, the Oliver returns to Starling City a new man--determined to right the wrongs of his father and sworn to bring justice to those who've corrupted his city. But Oliver finds his crusade complicated by his friends and family who are all affected by his return.

 Arrow: The Complete First Season
I grew up a Marvel fan so I've never been big into DC Comics or any of their characters outside of Batman and Superman, and I get that, given Warner's recent decisions regarding their theatrical film plans and based on the fact that The Caped Crusader is featured in just about every DC related animated series on television somehow, unfamiliarity with any other character is a real obstacle that they have to overcome if they ever want to reach those Avengers levels of fandom and money. After watching the first season of CW's Arrow I feel confident, however, that they're well on their way to establishing at least one of their second-tier Justice League characters into the public lexicon of superheroes, even if it is on the small screen for now. It's a pretty damn good show, and an exciting and enjoyable way to spend 43-minutes or so per week.

In general Arrow takes a lot of its style and structure from Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, but it changes things to better fit a long running television series that needs to work as both a set of individual stories and as a story with one overarching plot, and in that respect it's very much along the lines of genre shows such as Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. J.J. Abrams's Lost is also recalled quite often, with multiple flashbacks to the mysterious and not-so deserted island and Oliver's Green Arrow training and origins serving as the B-story for nearly every episode, and for the most part the way the series handles its titular character's origins while moving the story forward works very well. The fact that it's able to maintain an air of mystery to the island and draw viewers in even when the ultimate outcome is a known factor is somewhat of an accomplishment.

Another feather in Arrow's cap is that the villains are largely drawn of DC's deep stable, and like the Nolan series are more grounded in real life with a bit of flair for the fantastic in their characterizations, schemes or both. Just a few of the baddies you can expect to make an appearance in this first season are Deathstroke, Constantine Drakon, The Royal Flush Gang and Deadshot with many more are being teased at for the upcoming second season, and the producers' willingness to bring in "real" characters as opposed to the type of made up villains that have populated nearly every other superhero T.V. show that's ever aired goes a long way towards legitimizing the program. One major difference between the Bat's recent big screen outings and Arrow is though, and it's certainly one that's worth taking note of, is that Oliver doesn't feel any hesitation in killing anyone that he sees as a threat to him or Starling City. A lesser, similarly oriented program wouldn't take the time to discuss the consequences of his actions, but here it's a major plot point and a bone of contention between Oliver and those he chooses to reveal his identity to. It'll be interesting to see how the show allows him to evolve in this respect over the course of what will presumably be multiple seasons.

If when you start watching Arrow you get the sense that things aren't gelling quite right or the feeling that it's slow, make sure you stick with it. Unlike a lot of shows that take nearly a season to find their footing, Arrow does so only after a few episodes and it doesn't take very long to fully get invested in it. Once the latter half of the season kicks in--or more specifically when the episode entitled "Odyssey" comes up--it's pretty much a sprinting roller coaster of a ride to the big finish that promises even bigger and more intriguing things ahead. If any of this sounds good to you, make sure you get caught up on this 23-episode first season before the October 9th premiere of the second season. It should be fun.

 Arrow: The Complete First Season
Video
Warner Home Video presents Arrow: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray with a series of AVC-encoded, 1080p episodes, all in their originally broadcast 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and the results are good, and even surprisingly so. I say surprising because I noticed that each disc houses five or six episodes, and at a total running time of nearly 4.5 hours plus menus and features I was uncertain of how the video transfers would hold up, but after the first episode it was plain to see that for the most part I had little to worry about. The video ranges from good to absolutely gorgeous with blacks that are for the most part very deep and satisfying and a nice handling of a color palette that ranges from the blues, blacks and golds of the city at night to neon kaleidoscopes of night clubs and warm interiors of the Queen mansion without missing beat. There's plenty of detail to be had in the picture as well with not much in the way of noticeable banding, aliasing or black crush, and most other typical defects weren't noticed either. The only real issue with the transfer is that the stream for each episode is right around 6.3GB, and the lower bit rate video does lend itself to instances of macroblocking every now and again, but it's not intrusive enough to deter one from enjoying the series. From what little I saw of the show a few weeks during its summer repeats it looks like the video transfer here on these discs matches up quite nicely with the intended look of the series, but also benefits from the higher quality and bit rate presentation of the discs making this one release that actually exceeds its original presentation.

 Arrow: The Complete First Season
Audio
Also surprising is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track included with the set that's good enough to rival any other series currently airing on television and even give some theatrical presentations a run for their money. Though it is mostly front heavily and catered more towards dialogue like a lot of shows, there's plenty of life in the surrounds once the action and musical soundtrack kick in. City and crowd atmospherics place you right in the middle of any given situation a number of times, and nearly every gun and arrow shot zooms through the room with terrible velocity. Dialogue is always clear coming from the center channel, and the mix is normalized quite well so you won't have to worry about readjusting your volume at all. Overall this is a very good audio track that again gives viewers a better than original presentation experience.

 Arrow: The Complete First Season
Extras
Warner Home Video has included several high definition features with the nine-disc set (four Blu-rays and five DVDs). Chief among them are several deleted scenes which are included alongside the episode in which they were cut from. A lot of these scenes feature more in-depth character moments, motivations and interactions and should be of interest to fans. The first of the featurettes included, “Arrow Comes Alive”, is a nearly half an hour look at the genesis and making-of the series with producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, cast and crew.

“Arrow: Fight School/Stunt School” is a look behind the scenes in reference to all of the stunt work and action sequences were accomplished for the series. The featurettes are rounded off with the Arrow panel from the Paley Festival, which shows the cast and crew in a more candid light. The extras are concluded with a gag reel, and the set also includes every episode on DVD and UltraViolet digital copy, redeemable through flixster.com. The only thing I would have really liked to have seen included would have been an audio commentary track for the pilot episode, but what is presented here is good, quality stuff.

 Arrow: The Complete First Season
Overall
Arrow is one of the better superhero television programs to come along in quite a long while, and unlike Smallville I only hope that it's able to maintain the quality of its first season in the long run. It's an action packed and intriguing series full of interesting characters and twisting plots that any comic book fan ought to check out. Warner Home Video's Blu-ray release of the series' first season features very good video and audio and a nice selection of special features for fans to enjoy. Overall I'd highly recommend the set to those already on board, and as far as anyone else goes I say you should give it a shot--I doubt you'll be disappointed.



The screen captures throughout this review were taken from the Blu-ray release, but due to .jpg compression may not be representative of the true high definition quality of the video.


Links: