Arrow: Season One [Blu-Ray]

Arrow: Season One [Blu-Ray]
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Drawing from the DNA of Robin Hood and Batman (he's a wealthy vigilante who rights wrongs across economic divides), the creators of CW's take on DC second-string superhero Green Arrow makes the character of rich playboy-turned vigilante Oliver Queen more compelling than he ever was in paper and ink. The series gets off to a bit of a shaky start, forced to contend with cheesy dialog, upend expectations and convince the audience there's more to the show than a heavily muscled pretty boy working out and beating up bad guys because it was his daddy's dying wish. While the exhilarating, highly adrenalized fight choreography and surprising brutality are present from the start, it takes a handful of episodes before Arrow finds its rhythm and balances action, humour, character drama and mystery. Once it does though, the entire season is uphill in quality. The HD homevideo version of this easily digestible, compulsively watchable bit of testosterone-fuelled wish fulfillment lacks commentary tracks, but there's plenty of content giving the creators voice amongst the special features. To-the-point, like much of the show, the extras are broken up into three primary pieces: the equivalent of a "Making Of," behind-the-scenes with the stunt and action choreographers, and a group interview with the principle players. "Arrow Comes Alive" is mostly comprised of interview footage with series developer Greg Berlanti, the other producers, writers and essential cast members. They discuss the difficulty of telling two concurrent storylines — an element of the show that becomes one of the most compelling aspects of the narrative — explaining that the idea of making Oliver's transformative time as a castaway an essential, series-long concern came from Andy Diggle and Jock's Green Arrow: Year One comic run. The conscious decision to not hold back on character introductions is working out well so far. Tantalizing hints of future adversaries and partners lay a great deal of groundwork for general viewers and keeps devout comic fans foaming at the mouth. Not using code names, except where sensible, goes a long way towards reducing the camp factor associated with many superhero properties as well. "Fight School/Stunt School" takes around 18 minutes to study the mechanics of being a fake badass. As is often the case, the secret is that they endeavour to make as many of the stunts and elaborate hand-to-hand skirmishes doable by star Stephen Amell. Every team member appears proud of the exhaustive research and planning involved in making a show with some of the most exhilarating, kinetic action currently on television. "Cast and Creative Team at PaleyFest" is a panel moderated by DC chief executive officer and Arrow writer Geoff Johns. His love for, and knowledge of, the material makes him a great leader in coaxing the rest of the group into giving the audience a solid outline of what inspired this version of the character and what's in store for this corner of the DC universe in the long run. Less interesting is the assortment of deleted scenes and the relatively tame gag reel also included. (Warner)