Tag Archives: CW

Apparently, ‘Arrow’ writers don’t know much about history

You think you can play Diggle like a punk?

You think you can play Diggle like a punk?

“There’s never been an armed occupation in history that wasn’t overthrown in force.”
John Diggle, “Uprising,”
Arrow

In a recent episode of Arrow, during a conversation with the rest of the green-hooded (at that point believed-to-be-dead) hero’s gang, resident badass Diggle utters the phrase above. It’s a pretty cool phrase, uttered by a character who is a military veteran and knows a little something about armed combat.

The only problem is it’s untrue. And I knew it immediately. How would I know this and the writers of Arrow wouldn’t? I’m not sure, because I don’t think it would have been hard to google it. Hell, it was the subject of an Academy Award-winning film. Give up?

I can sum it up in three words: Mahatma frigging Gandhi.

Yeah, a little bald dude in a toga who spent his free time making yarn on a loom, walking all over India and kicking the British Empire’s privileged, heavily armed ass the whole way back to Europe, minus the ass kicking. Gandhi wasn’t the only one involved, of course, but he fronted the movement and became a worldwide sensation when the only thing resembling a global media outlet was BBC radio.

That’s a pretty big oversight on the Arrow crew’s part. I’m betting there are other examples out there of civil disobedience working, although maybe not on the scale of what Gandhi and his fellow Indians pulled off.

Someone needed to step away from the script and fact check. And they didn’t. Because here’s the thing: A character like Diggle would know full well that the line he uttered was complete bullshit and never have uttered it in the first place.

Don’t play Diggle like a punk. And don’t play Arrow viewers like punks, either.

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All in on ‘Arrow’

If you've been a bad boy, you don't want to see this coming at you in a dark alley.

If you’ve been a bad boy, you don’t want to see this coming at you in a dark alley.

I had a couple of buddies who are bigger comics geeks than me tell me that I really needed to check out Arrow. I hemmed and hawed for a while, as I am not a fan of many things D.C. outside of Batman.

But since I had periodic gaps while I was waiting for Game of Thrones discs from Netflix, I went and streamed the first two seasons of Arrow. As this went on over a period of a couple of months, I started to realize that I was letting GoT discs sit because I had to see the next episode of the adventures of Oliver McQueen and his pals.

Is it Game of Thrones quality? Hells naw. We’re talking the CW here, so let’s not get carried away. That’s not what Arrow is, nor what it aspires to be.

But when I compare it to another CW superhero drama, Smallville, there’s no comparison. Arrow is head-and-shoulders above the Man of Steel offering. Smallville never seemed to have a grasp of what the larger story should be over time, other than to drag out his origin story. Their “Oh shit, they’ve graduated high school … so now we have Smallville community college” moment was just one example of that ineptitude, as well as the abrupt evolution of Lana into a special being of her own, which was the point where I abandoned the show.

Arrow has a great overarching enemy – the League of Assassins – as well as a much more solid core group of actors than Smallville with Stephen Amell as the titular hero, David Ramsey as sidekick/war hero Diggle, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity and even Willa Holland as McQueen’s sister Thea, who is starting to shed her the-next-Paris-Hilton persona into a true player among Starling City’s arrow-slinging heavyweights. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it does a nice job of layering the story, revealing key points only when absolutely necessary and taking the narrative to unexpected places.

The evolution of the individual storylines works, as well. Oliver’s transition from stone-cold killer avenging his dad to hero trying to save a city when he couldn’t save his best friend was natural and necessary. John Diggle struggles with the possibilities of what his injury or death might do to the woman he loves and his new child. And while Katie Cassidy’s lack of acting skills in anything other than crying sometimes hurts the character Laurel at times, the idea that she needs to quit being that simpering addict and take matters into her own hands has been one of the more interesting arcs of Season 3, as well as offering some potential for growth beyond that.

I look forward to seeing how Arrow proceeds from here. Here’s hoping they can keep this train on the rails.

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‘100’? I’d give it a 79

Don't eat the radioactive animals, kids.

Don’t eat the radioactive animals, kids.

There will be a shit-ton of spoilers about the new CW show, The 100, in this post, so don’t come crying to me if I ruin it for you.

Set-up: A-. I don’t know the book The 100 is based on, so I can’t say if the show is faithful to it or not. Ninety-seven years before the show’s kick-off, nuclear war made the Earth unlivable. Eleven nations had space stations that some of their citizenry were able to retreat to for safety. Now, all 11 space stations have been combined into one large space station. It’s estimated that it will take up to 200 years after the war for Earth to be safe for human inhabitants. Meanwhile, the space station is getting crowded. Lawbreakers are automatically shot out the airlock. Juvenile offenders are jailed until they turn 18, then they get the airlock. Everyone’s clothes are ragged, and nothing seems as if it’s in very good condition. But the powers that be have a plan: Launch all 100 incarcerated youthful offenders to Earth. They get the opportunity to live – maybe not very long, depending on how conditions on Earth end up being – and, via wrist monitors the 100 wear, the space station will be able to get an idea if it’s feasible to start inhabiting Earth again. Pretty awesome, eh?

Characters: D. It’s the Sleepy Hollow syndrome all over again. Why do writers and execs think you have to know everything about everything by the end of the damn pilot? For example, we pretty much immediately find out that our heroine, Clarke, has been imprisoned for rebelling after the death of her father, who discovered that the space station’s calculations for how quickly its resources will run out are way off, and that the whole space livin’ crew will be screwed soon. IT’S TOO MUCH INFORMATION. We don’t need to know that. It’s pretty obvious that the situation in the space station is pretty tight, both on space and resources, just from the set-dressing and the plan to launch the juvies to Earth. Plus, we find out that one of the other main characters, Octavia, has been jailed simply for being born. There’s population control on the space station, and she’s the second child, and – therefore – an unnecessary drain on the collective’s food, air and space. The imminent end for the space folks could have been a guarded secret to find out down the line. Even the fact that Clarke’s father’s death had been set into action when he defied the station’s leaders and shared the dreaded information, that could have been held back. Clarke is also too much of a cardboard cutout from the jump off, and this sort of indelicate plotting doesn’t help. Her mother tells her to take care of herself and not to try to save everyone like her father. What does she do in every scene after that? Try to save everyone like her father. It’s very ham-handed. Another other issue with the characters are that they are supposed to represent 11 different nations. Yes, there’s an ethnic/racial mix among the actors, but they all have American accents. Really? So far, no other character has really distinguished himself or herself other than Clarke, and to be fair, that’s hard to do with a large cast and having just an hour to get stuff established. There’s promise, which is what saves The 100 from a dreaded F in this category.

Acting: C+. Eliza Taylor, who stars as Clarke, is so earnest that it’s almost stifling. Most of the young actors are pretty under-cooked and awkward, but that could improve. The best performance by a younger actor comes from Devin Bostick (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), and his character is dead by the end of the pilot. The only other young actor who sets himself apart is Richard Harmon (Percy Jackson). The adults – all on the space station – are fine, a solid mix of character actors such as Paige Turco (Party of Five), Isaiah Washington (Romeo Must Die, Out of Sight), Kelly Hu (Scorpion King) and Henry Ian Cusick (Lost).

Writing: B-. TV is a writer’s medium. I realize this is the CW and not HBO or AMC, so there’s a curve. But the aforementioned issues with sharing too much hurt, and too much of the dialogue is spot on and tepid. I’d probably normally go lower, but the overall story idea really saves it, and in a pilot, you’re going to get more exposition than probably any other time in the series. Plus, it’s the first episode. This is a feeling-out process, and the craftsmanship could improve.

Recommendation: If you’re a sci-fi fan with an opening in your TV watching schedule, give it a shot. It’s the CW, so if you’ve been fans of shows such as Smallville, Green Arrow, Supernatural, etc., odds are good you’ll have an affinity for The 100. If science fiction isn’t your thing, look elsewhere. The 100 is not the kind of show that will change your mind about the genre.

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