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The CW Introduces Primetime's Newest Action Hero
October 9, 2012  | By Ed Bark

Prime-time's newest action hero has a long to-do list of ne'er-do-wells.

And he's making up for lost time after a five-year survivor stint on a far-off North China island in which he learned "to forge myself into a weapon." Zing go the stings of his pointy things when the hooded right-wronger isn't parkour-ing through Starling City in hot pursuit of those who would do him harm. A really tough workout routine further steels him.

He is — drum roll/cymbal clash — the most interesting Arrow in the world when not masquerading as playboy billionaire Oliver Queen. And he's kind of fun to watch in Wednesday night's scene-setter, which rolls out at 8 p.m. ET.

The CW's Arrow, starring a nicely sculpted, scarred and tattooed Stephen Amell, is being paired with the network's long-running Supernatural. Both series tend to spend a lot of time in the dark during filming in cost-efficient Vancouver. So cross-over episodes are always a possibililty.

Oliver is quickly rescued from his island hell-hole in the opening minutes of Arrow. He had been on a small storm-tossed boat with a handful of passengers, including his tycoon father (Jamey Sheridan dropping in from vice presidential duties on Homeland) and the sister of Dinah "Laurel" Lance (Katie Cassidy), on whom he'd been cheating. They're both dead now, but flashbacks show us that dad let Oliver in on some dark secrets before expiring.

The return to Starling City is heralded by TV news accounts spiked with footage of a drunken Oliver's dust-up with a photographer. But he's a heroic figure now — outwardly at least — to everyone except embittered Laurel, a crusading attorney who specializes in helping the powerless.

Oliver's old room at the stately Queen mansion has been left as is by his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), who's remarried. His wingman, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), also hasn't missed a beat. One of the premiere episode's better moments is when Tommy tries to hand-pick a bedmate for Oliver at a big, loud club party.

"Which one is she?" Oliver says while surveying three gyrators.

"The one that looks like the chick from Twilight," Tommy says.

"What's Twilight?"

"You're so better off not knowing."

Arrow otherwise is enlivened by a pair of very frenetic action sequences featuring tumbles, dodges, flying fists and a number of points well made by Arrow's bow and arrows. Medieval weaponry is at least a minor trend this fall, with NBC's new Revolution specializing in weekly sword fights.

The first episode of Arrow is promising enough to merit a call-back next week. Even if the series more likely than not will settle into an oft-trod TV regimen of dispatching a bad guy per week while peeling away more layers of "mythology" regarding the Queen family's previous bad deeds.

In that respect, Episode 1 ends with a mini-revelation that in reality isn't all that big a surprise. Arrow may not be a-point-ment television. But for starters at least, it's a sharper little tale than expected.

GRADE: B-minus

Read more by Ed Bark at unclebarky.com

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