The inaugural season of the CW’s latest superhero melodrama debuts on Blu-ray with a presentation sure to hit the mark with fans.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, French 2.0 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 16 Hr. 12 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 09/17/2013
After surviving a shipwreck that took the life of his father and everyone else aboard, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) spends the next five years stranded on a remote island in the North China Sea. Scars peppering his body point to the intense physical hardship he endured in the wild, but it’s the psychological toll that remains in question.
The Production Rating: 3/5
When Queen is finally rescued and returns to his home in Starling City, he seems to pick up exactly where he left off, partying and carousing his nights away with little regard for anyone but himself. But his time on the island undoubtedly changed him, though no one would ever imagine how.
Donning a green hood and armed with a bow and arrow and some serious combat training, Queen begins targeting the city’s rich and powerful, individuals who built their fortunes through exploitation and corruption. Queen’s own father was one of those people, but, having seen the error of his ways, had begun looking for ways to right the wrongs. With his time cut short, the father’s quest for redemption falls to the son, and Queen pursues it with a vengeance, working off a list of names his father had compiled prior to his death.
Keeping his new identity and mission a secret, however, is no simple task. His mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), sister Thea (Willa Holland), and stepfather Walter (Colin Salmon) seem blissfully unaware of his activities, but their membership in the city’s elite puts them closer to the list than he’d care to admit. Queen’s vigilantism also places him at odds with the city’s law enforcement, specifically Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), who would love nothing more than to capture the man being called “The Hood.” That Lance is the father to Queen’s ex-girlfriend Laurel (Katie Cassidy), as well as Laurel’s sister Sara, with whom Queen was sleeping at the time of the shipwreck and who died in the accident, further complicates matters when Queen is trying to maintain his cover story.
In fact it’s Queen’s ties to his civilian life – the consequences of his past misdeeds and his attempt to now protect those he cares for – that are his greatest obstacles. Eventually he’ll discover allies in the city who can help – including John Diggle (David Ramsey), Queen’s one-time bodyguard, and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), a computer expert in his family’s corporation – but even together they may find Starling City’s deeply entrenched vice and corruption, organized by a mysterious cabal of the wealthy, ultimately insurmountable.
With so much plot it would make a daytime soap jealous, the CW’s Arrow – based on DC’s Green Arrow comic book – fills the superhero melodrama void left by the network’s long running series Smallville. Arrow is a fair bit grittier by comparison, with its protagonist sometimes killing off his targets or those around them, but there’s no mistaking the footsteps the show is following, in respect to its home TV network and the comic book universe that it draws from. Viewers who notice similarities between the Oliver Queen/Arrow and the Bruce Wayne/Batman stories won’t be off base, since it’s a criticism leveled at the Green Arrow character since his creation; it’s just odd the producers would still choose to go there after pop culture’s been so heavily saturated with the Dark Knight mythos.
Nevertheless, the series proved one of the more successful from the last season. As one who could take or leave most of what transpires between Queen and his family, and Queen and his old flame, due to an extreme case of been-there-done-that, my penchant for an origin story was what ultimately kept me returning for more. Dolling out that part of Queen’s life through flashbacks running the length of the season may not have been an original tactic (Lost’s legacy continues), but it remains an effective one. Seeing the main character’s transformation from an entitled, one-percenter to a hardened, vigilante-warrior is probably the show’s most redeeming factor. But now, with much of Queen’s origin story out of the way, there’s limited interest – at least for me – in another season. Bringing me back wouldn’t necessarily be difficult, but it would require the show to aim for something decidedly more original in both its character and story.
Arrow: The Complete First Season includes the 23 episodes that originally aired on the CW in 2012 and 2013. The episodes are spread across four Blu-ray discs in the following arrangement:
- Disc One: Episodes 1-6
- Disc Two: Episodes 7-12
- Disc Three: Episodes 13-18
- Disc Four: Episodes 19-23
The episodes, accurately framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, feature strong blacks, an uncompromised range of contrast, and warm, beautifully saturated color that complements everything from landscapes to skin tones. Detail is excellent, most obvious in the variety of close ups that highly resolve fine pores and facial hair, though cutaways to city skylines also look spectacular. Things are not quite as pleasing with the pilot episode, however, as a veneer of noise gives it a rather brittle appearance. That things aren’t so dialed-in for the first episode isn’t uncommon though, and considering how great things look afterward, more than likely it’s an issue with the source footage and/or the way the pilot was shot.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track features crisp, clear dialogue, balanced – if somewhat limited – surround channel effects, and a solid bottom end. Overall, the audio presentation doesn’t match the video in terms quality, but it does make for an effective complement.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The extras include the usual suspects – deleted scenes, a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes, and a gag reel. DVDs and digital copy fill out the rest of the package.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Deleted Scenes (HD):
- Episode 1: Pilot (1:58)
- Episode 2: “Honor Thy Father” (3:56)
- Episode 3: “Lone Gunmen” (2:00)
- Episode 5: “Damaged” (6:25)
- Episode 7: “Muse of Fire” (1:05)
- Episode 12: “Vertigo” (1:27)
- Episode 17: “The Huntress Returns” (2:18)
- Episode 20: “Home Invasion” (1:14)
- Episode 21: “The Undertaking” (1:44)
- Episode 23: “Sacrifice” (3:32)
Arrow Fight School and Stunt School (18:53, HD): An overview of the show’s action choreography and training.
Gag Reel (2:28, HD)
Arrow Cast and Creative Team at the 2013 PaleyFest (27:26, HD): Footage from panel discussion.
DVD: The episodes presented in standard definition are spread across five DVDs.
UltraViolet: Redeem by September 17, 2015.
Warner Home Video is right on target with Arrow’s high definition presentation, offering impressive visuals alongside solid audio support. The special features include some requisite behind-the-scenes material with the de facto DVD and digital copy, making it a solid release for those looking to begin their series collection.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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