"...if you're enough of a Green Arrow fan to know what I mean when I say 'Longbow Hunters', give this show a few episodes. I bet it will grab you the same way it did me."
As a DC fan who dropped Smallville after season 1, I've avoided this show since the day I saw the pilot at SDCC several years ago. I have a few friends who told me they liked it, and I respect their opinion, but the overall reviews were so mixed I didn't want to waste my time. Green Arrow is one of my favorite heroes and I didn't want to see him mauled by a pretty-boy scene-chewer. Changes like making Star City into Starling City were a red flag that some producer or director wanted to make stupid changes for no apparent reason. Last week a friend browbeat me into watching it now that Season 1 is free on Netflix and...I am absolutely shocked by how good this show is.
The writers of Arrow have an obvious love for the source material, planting subtle Easter Eggs throughout the season (look for references to the Nodell Tower, and the Wolfman and Perez law firm). Other locations in the DC universe, such as Bludhaven, Central City, and Coast City (home to Nightwing, Flash, and the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, respectively) are folded into the dialogue in ways that give DC fans hope for more to come (see links below). Characters like Deathstroke/Slade Wilson, Count Vertigo, The Royal Flush Gang, Deadshot, and Merlyn have counterparts in this "real-world" drama that make sense. The fight choreography is jaw-dropping at times, particularly because the main actor, Stephen Amell, is pulling off many of these stunts himself. Just as shocking is that the archery is fairly well represented. What I'm most surprised about is that they found an actor who could do the physical scenes and still actually act! Ollie has some subtlety, but is not overly complex in this series, so I'm not seeing the actor pull off major emotional stretches, but he is being directed well and is able to pull off believable emotional cues with skill.
The same love for the DC heroes, unfortunately, isn't given to the DC heroines. The storyline introducing the Huntress was written well, but the actress was heavy-handed and so a fan favorite fell flat. Laurel Dinah Lance will eventually become Black Canary (we guess), and though the character of Laurel is well handled and we see she can fight, so far I'm not seeing anything that makes me believe she can pull off Canary onscreen. The rest of the show becomes so good by the end of season 1, though, that I'll give the creative team some credit.
So, if you're enough of a Green Arrow fan to know what I mean when I say "Longbow Hunters", give this show a few episodes. I bet it will grab you the same way it did me.
The Flash's secret identity, Barry Allen, will appear in two season 2 episodes of Arrow, then get his own pilot set in the same universe.
It's now been confirmed that my all-time favorite DC hero, Nightwing, will also make an appearance at some point.
Addendum 12/14/2013: We're now 9 episodes into season 2 and it is just as good, if not better, than season 1. The writers inject great emotional payoffs to plots seeded in the first season and the Barry Allen episodes are making me long for The Flash pilot. It's rare to see the kind of understandable character growth they show between 1 and 2 as well. Finally, the Black Canary storyline forced some changes to the character, but worked out far better than I would have expected.