One day I was scrounging around Netflix looking for something decent to watch when up popped a television show called The Arrow. From the accompanying blurb it sounded suspiciously like an old DC comic book character called Green Arrow. I ignored it at first, because when it comes to super heroes, GA was pretty much down at the bottom of the barrel.
His only super power was being able to somehow keep off the sexual predator watch list while running around wearing green pantyhose, matching green man panties, a silly green tunic, an even more silly hat with a feather in it, and sporting a dyed blonde goatee. Oh, and let’s not forget a just as ridiculously garbed pubescent boy named “Speedy”.
(What is it with all of these super heroes from the ‘golden age’ of comics and their scantily clad adolescent male companions? Batman and Robin, Green Arrow and Speedy, Flash and Kid Flash, Aquaman and Aquaboy…)
Anyway, the only thing Green Arrow had going for him was an endless assortment of utterly ridiculous arrows. Like boxing glove arrows when he needed to knock someone out. Net arrows when he needed to catch someone. Rope arrows when he needed rope. Exploding arrows when he needed to blow something up… The list was endless. Whenever he got himself into some hopeless situation, guess what? He would just happen to have yet another ridiculous arrow to get him out of it.
Batman wasn’t ‘super’ any more than Green Arrow was, but at least Batman was intimidating looking. The Green Arrow with his green pantyhose and green panties and ruffled shirt… Well, let’s just say that even back in the 1960s when I ran into the comic, people kinda wondered…
Well, they’ve been busy “rebooting” all kinds of comic books of late… SHIELD, Flash… I’d seen some of SHIELD and it wasn’t bad. Flash, well, it was silly but at least not truly horrible. Good enough to keep me watching. So I’d take a shot at the Arrow (ha ha… take a shot at the Arrow… get it? God, that was bad even for me.)
Much to my surprise, it wasn’t actually bad. Not at first, anyway. In true reboot fashion they’d made it gritty and dark and ridiculously complicated with about a dozen different subplots all running at the same time. But they did manage to keep things interesting enough to keep me watching.
(Aside: What’s with all of these former actors from Dr. Who turning up in these comic book reboots? The woman who played River Song, the fellow who played Jack Harkness from Who and later from Torchwood)
The Arrow (NOT Green Arrow, thank you very much. At least not at first. By the second or third season he is Green Arrow, although they don’t change the title of the show itself.), had been a young, naive, wealthy playboy until tragedy struck and he ended up shipwrecked on an island that would have been too sadistic and horrific even to include as one of Dante’s circles of Hell. The whole island story gradually comes out gradually in flashbacks extending through the entire length of the show as the writers attempt to somehow justify the ever more bizarre corners they write themselves into by the end of the second season.
Eventually they turn his teenaged sister (I think she’s a teenager. At least she was too young to legally drink in the first series so she was under 21) into the old Green Arrow sidekick, Speedy, because she’s learned mad, crazed ninja stuff from her evil biological father and member of the Assassin’s Guild…
Assassin’s Guild? Wait a minute… Where the hell did a guild of assassins come in?
Hell, I don’t know. I’d given up trying to figure out what the hell the writers were doing by that time and realized I’d been sucked into some kind of bizarre and possibly drug induced evil vision that the writers were trying to work out by writing instead of going to therapy like normal people.
So, we got Green Arrow. His sister, now super ninja assassin girl, Speedy. We got your drug crazed super soldiers. We got an assistant DA who dressed up in a black latex jump suit and a mask and screams at people who calls herself Canary. We got people coming back from the dead. Literally coming back from the dead.
The Arrow’s girlfriend, who just happened to be the sister of the assistant DA and the daughter of a police captain, died in the same shipwreck… Only she didn’t. She comes back and it turns out she’s some kind of wicked super ninja assassin too only she’s a good super ninja assassin…
And then it turns out the daughter of the head of the assassin’s guild in the lover of The Arrow’s risen from the dead girlfriend. And then Arrow has to fight the head of the assassin’s guild to the death and sort of kinda gets killed himself only not really, and then Arrow’s sister gets almost kinda sorta killed and they have to take her to the guild and shove her into this magic spring that heals people but only by turning them into occasional monsters who have to kill people every month…
There is a phrase that’s come into common usage in the entertainment industry: jumping the shark. It originates with an episode of the old Happy Days series where they put The Fonz, complete with leather jacket, on water skis, and made him literally jump a shark.
It referred to the fact that the writers and producers had so completely run out of anything even remotely entertaining to do that they had to resort to outright insanity in order to try to keep going.
The Arrow has jumped the shark. The assassin’s guild, the Hive plot, government conspiracies and now outright magic? Come on, guys, you’re not even trying now, are you?