Developed By: Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Manu Bennett, Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Susanna Thompson, Colton Haynes, Caity Lotz, Summer Glau, Kevin Alejandro, Dylan Neal, Dylan Bruce, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Barrowman, Celina Jade, Audrey Marie Anderson, Michael Rowe
Certificate: 15 Running Time: 43 Minutes per Episode, 23 Episodes
Tagline: "His death was just the beginning."
Green Arrow has never been among DC's most popular characters but after a bit of a redesign, modified back-story, and the introduction of a few new characters in addition to reworked versions of the established ones, his adventures quickly proved to be ideally suited to the revitalised world of live-action TV shows. This show was of course Arrow and it was in fact the first such show of DC's assault on the currently-popular 'shared universe' approach to showcasing their roster of characters, although unlike Marvel, their version will be keeping the TV and cinema universes separate, and that makes Arrow its only occupant at this stage.
Fortunately, the first season was superb, with critics and fans-alike impressed with The CW's effort. The cast was well-chosen, the action was fantastic, and the drama, while perhaps a bit corny here and there, still succeeded in making you care about the characters. Well, most of them anyway (no show is completely bereft of annoying characters). A successful début season then, by all accounts, but could the second continue the momentum? The signs were certainly good at least, but before you find out by reading on, allow me to issue a hopefully-unneeded spoiler alert just in case you haven't seen the first season yet.
|At work taking down the criminal scum of Starling City...|
Of course, it doesn't take too much fluttering of Felicity's delightful eyelashes before Oliver returns to Starling City and he does so with a revised mantra, as revealed in the new opening voiceover: "My name is Oliver Queen. After five years on a hellish island, I have come home with only one goal: to save my city. But to do that, I can't be the killer I once was. To honor my friend's memory, I must be someone else. I must be something else." A tough job just got a lot tougher then!
|Arrow gets some help with this season's crisis...|
Naturally, the evil-sounding Dr. Ivo (Neal) isn't entirely happy to have Oliver and his friends running around causing problems and the main man soon finds himself one of several prisoners aboard the Amazo (Ivo's ship) where he's more than a little startled to find not only that Sara survived the yacht wreck the previous year but that she is now working for Ivo too, helping him conduct experiments on the prisoners.
|The formidable Deathstroke awaits...|
Much of the season's humour once again comes from Felicity who, despite saving the day countless times with her amazing intellect, continues to struggle in other more personal areas, whether it's her drug-addled confession to Oliver, a jealously-fuelled effort to get into fighting shape, or her attempt to join in a comparison of battle-scars ("I have a scar. It’s in my mouth. I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 16. Three stitches, they were really badly impacted."), she never fails to raise a smile. We even get to meet her mother, which of course she's thrilled about!
|Watch out Oliver, somebody else likes Felicity...|
Overall then, we have lost one cast member but gained several more. The result is obviously a lot of characters to find time for, but the producers have done an excellent job. The season is probably more action-oriented than the last, with less need for exposition, and these scenes are of a consistently higher quality than ever, but there is still time for characters to continue evolving, and there are a few shocks and revelations in store. In particular it's very satisfying to watch Oliver's journey from tolerated vigilante to genuine hero. Despite such a large cast he's still very much the star here too, and he's still a very likeable one, flaws and all.
So basically then, this about as good a second season as fans could've hoped for. It's at least as good in pretty much every area, better in some, and worse in none. If you were to level any criticism at it, it would be that it's perhaps getting a little less realistic, and some things are rather silly, but the tension and excitement are kept at a good level for its whole, not-insignificant length. The show has really found its groove at this point. Now that it's established, the producers have their work cut out to maintain the momentum for a third season and beyond, but by the looks of it we don't have anything to worry about.
RKS Score: 9/10