Fall TV Preview

Fall TV First Impression: Is Arrow on Target?

The broadcast networks have more than 20 shows debuting this fall, including a Revolution-ary drama from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, a Nashville home for Connie Britton and a new comedy from Friends‘ Matthew Perry. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

THE SHOW | The CW’s Arrow (Wednesdays, 8/7c)

THE COMPETITION | The X Factor (Fox), Survivor (CBS), The Middle/Suburgatory (ABC) and Animal Practice (new)/Guys With Kids (new) (NBC)

THE CAST | Stephen Amell (Private Practice), Katie Cassidy (Melrose Place), Susanna Thompson (Once & Again), Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files), Willa Holland (The O.C.) and others

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THE SET-UP | In this new small-screen take on DC Comics’ Green Arrow character, Amell stars as Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who, after being presumed dead with his father in a shipwreck, is rescued from a five-year island isolation and returns a changed man. Though he presents the same “cavalier cad” public persona to those back home in the increasingly derelict Star Starling City, Oliver in private develops the alter ego of Green Arrow, a hooded, bow-toting vigilante who has an Emily Thorne-like list of ne’er-do-wells to exact revenge upon. Thompson and Holland play Ollie’s mother Moira and sis Thea/”Speedy,” while Cassidy and Blackthorne are old flame Dinah Laurel Lance and her police detective dad Quentin.

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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Arrow marks the second time, Nikita included, that The CW has successfully delivered on a gritty, action-packed drama. Purposely bearing no association with the character’s Smallville incarnation, this riff on Oliver Queen impressively sets up his backstory through a series of intense flashbacks (guest-starring Jamey Sheridan as family patriarch Robert), then thrusts him back into civilization with a literal vengeance. The combat sequences, as Arrow sets sight on his first order of business, are thrilling, while Oliver’s at-home interactions with his mother and sister (each who has a few secrets of her own) and scorned ex Laurel are prickly and never within 100 miles of treacly. Among the performances, Amell brings the right amount of moxie (and muscle) to his dual roles, Thompson promises to be one tough mother and Cassidy has found her best CW role to date, as a buttoned-up legal aide (for the — clever acronym alert! — City Necessary Resources Initiative) who isn’t about to roll over for her back-from-the-dead beau; it should be great fun watching the two of them grapple with keeping at arm’s length.
    Among my concerns, Oliver’s hard-partying, hottie-ogling BFF Tommy (played by Colin Donnell) seems imported from a John Hughes movie and thus is an ill fit with this otherwise dark-ish drama, while it is my hope that Blackthorne and David Ramsey (playing Ollie’s seemingly savvy bodyguard, John Diggle) are afforded plenty to do besides Being Unaware of the Hooded Guy’s True Identity.

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THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE Interest in Arrow is high, at least among TVLine readers who in this admittedly unscientific poll are giving it the edge Wednesdays at 8. If X Factor fails to convert on its Britney factor and Survivor (entering its 25th cycle!) continues to wane, there is a chance here to target those with little interest in any of the four sitcoms in play (two of which are unproven).

Watch a video preview for Arrow, then vote in our poll below.