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Arrow: The Complete First Season

Arrow: The Complete First Season
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, and for Digital Download
Home Video Release Date: September 17th, 2013

Synopsis: Based on DC Comics' Green Arrow superhero comic book series, Arrow has been reinvented for a modern day audience and comes to DVD and Blu-ray for the first time. After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, the Oliver returns to Starling City a new man -- determined to right the wrongs of his father and sworn to bring justice to those who've corrupted his city. But Oliver finds his crusade complicated by his friends and family who are all affected by his return.

Special Features:
* Arrow Comes Alive! - From the minds of Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg comes Arrow, with its solid nod toward the roots of the famous DC Comics character. These two creative forces, along with their stellar cast, will guide this documentary, as they describe their modern update of the Green Arrow for a television audience.
* Arrow: Fight School/Stunt School (featurette): From expertly choreographed fights, to stunts that give feature films a run for their money; Arrow takes aim to present the best that television can offer. Experience the extraordinary effort that goes into each stunt sequence.
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Arrow at Paley Fest 2013: Highlights from the Paley Fest 2013 Arrow panel including the cast and producers

Arrow: The Complete First Season Review
By James Harvey

Well, color me surprised (so...green?). After a bit of a rough start, Arrow quickly turned into not only one of the most talked-about shows of the 2012-2013 television season, but one of the most acclaimed series at that. Bringing the classic DC Comics character Green Arrow to the modern day, Arrow provided solid acting, great action, and even interesting stories during its first season. True, it struggled at the start, trying to leap past those standard tropes we find on most The CW shows, but once it got passed that hurtle, the show took off into something genuinely entertaining and engaging. And something worth revisiting on home video.

After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, the Oliver returns to Starling City a new man — determined to right the wrongs of his father and sworn to bring justice to those who’ve corrupted his city. But Oliver finds his crusade complicated by his friends and family who are all affected by his return. Arrow stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, with Susanna Thompson and Paul Blackthorne. Based on characters published by DC Comics, Arrow is produced by Bonanza Productions in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television with executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg.

It's funny how, after watching this show, how perfectly suited Green Arrow is for a weekly television series. By focusing on the beloved character's more gritty, street-oriented roots, Warner Bros. was able to come up with a perfectly grounded and enjoyable approach to the Emerald Archer, one that works quite well. Granted, there are a fair amount of changes from the source material, but overall there seems to be a genuine love for the characters here in Arrow. Classic Green Arrow tales like The Longbow Hunters and Year One get a nod. In fact, there's very little to actually dislike here save for the show's somewhat choppy beginnings. Now, that's not to say the show was awful from the get-go. It was alright, but, like most first season shows, was trying to find itself. And, since it was placed on The CW, it found itself leaning toward a much younger-skewering demographic than the regular comic reader. Amazingly, the show basically shrugged off the usual The CW trappings after awhile and took its own path, and the results ended up being pretty great (honestly, about halfway through the season, the show does an amazing about-face).

If you need to compare this show to something, its closest match would likely be Smallville. And, honestly, the first season of Arrow alone is head and shoulders above Smallville in terms of quality across all boards. Acting, production value, writing, all of it just surpasses The CW's previous DC Comics-based television series and leaves it in the dust.

Arrow manages to nicely balance audience expectations, bringing in plenty of romantic problems and squabbles and squashing that nicely with some gritty and dark developments. It's clear that the producers behind this series were influenced by Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, in terms of tone and approach to the comic-book origins of the character. Out are the boxing arrows, and in are...well...very pointy and deadly arrows. Quite honestly, Queen (aka "Arrow," aka "The Hood") amasses a crazy body count quite quickly in the series. In the pilot alone I'm pretty sure he hits double-digits in his kill mark (if not, he's fairly close). And he leaves behind a bloody trail nearly every episode. Thankfully, this is all done purposefully with a reason, as Queen's friends do take notice of this quite early in the series.

Queen's present day drama and adventures are nicely balanced with flashbacks to the five years he spent stranded on a mysterious island, one he quickly discovered was inhabited with some very questionable people (and some well-known to long-time fans). Arrow finds a nice balance for the two "eras" the show covers and how both of them intersect, usually superficially, but the island B-stories do usually play out nicely combined with the present-day A-stories. It adds some flavor to what is basically a crime procedural, though that is easily masked by the abundance of DC Comics references, evil machinations, corrupt businessmen, and the usual The CW-esque dramatic twists. The wealthy supporting cast also keeps things constantly moving, with roughly eight characters (give or take) constantly moving in and out of the spotlight. The regular rotations of guest characters, both good and bad, can occasionally make for an overstuffed episode, but there's no real detriment. Characters who started out with larger roles initially, such as Laurel Lance and Tommy Merlyn, seem to eventually get shunted off for fan-favorites like Felicity Smoak and Slade (yes, as in "Deathstroke").

Like with most first-season shows, Arrow is able to eventually find what really works and boils things down appropriately. The show focuses away, but never completely leaves, some of the standard love triangle-type drama and trappings and instead brings us core essence of what this show's all about. In fact, one of the show's gutsiest episodes is its season finale, which not only ends on a bit of a down note, but tosses everyone out to the wind. It takes all the show's major plots and turns them on their ear. Honestly, I was disappointed by the finale on my first viewing, but watching it again here as part of the season collection I find it's actually the most logical way the show can go. It opens up so much for the second season.

Overall, Arrow is a show that really pays off if you stick with it. It's not a perfect series, but it does find its footing as it progresses, and that all comes to head in a very gutsy, satisfying season finale. Once fans get past some of the changes made to the mythos (which, honestly, are minor), they'll undoubtedly find a show that actually embraces what makes Green Arrow a fun character. Arrow utilizes a great deal of the DC Universe that should pull in the long-term fans and hopefully pique the interest of casual viewers. Not every character is full fleshed out, not every actor is excellent, and some stories can be of questionable quality, but this show is greatly entertaining and worth your time. It may not hit the bullseye, but Arrow lands on target.

Moving on to the Blu-ray Combo Pack release from Warner Home Video, the studio has provided both a healthy amount of bonus features and ways to actually watch the entire first season. The set contains four Blu-ray discs, five DVDs, and the option to view the show through Ultraviolet. The oversized Blu-ray keepcase is nice and sturdy, packaged in a nice slipcase with a mini-booklet that breaks down the episodes and bonus content.

Taking a closer look at the Blu-ray discs included, the audio and video quality for Arrow is, of course, pretty high for the high-def release. In terms of video, the detail is excellent save for the odd soft-looking shot (something I assume is the result of the actual film and not the transfer). Everything pops, even in the nighttime shots. Characters are easy to distinguish with even the smallest amount of lighting. The only issue is, from time to time, colors seem a bit off, but it's nothing too distracting. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is surprisingly deep, taking full advantage. Dialogue is clear and distinct, with the quiet moments perfectly balanced against the loud action beats. Dialogue is usually center-focused and the action beats are more spread out, allowing everything to be heard nice and clear - as it should be. Dialogue, action, music - everything is balanced to perfection here. Arrow has never looked or sounded better.

In terms of bonus features, Warner Home Video has given fans a healthy amount of extras to sift through. First up are the deleted scenes, which can be found on each disc in the set. Not every episode features cut material, but the majority do and, surpisingly, the majority of the cut material seems to be more cut for time than quality. Some of the dropped scenes actually should probably have been left in, though it's understandable why they were inevitably dropped.

The remaining bonus content, housed on the last disc, features a collection of featurettes and a gag reel. The first featurette, the 30-minute "Arrow Comes Alive!," covers the shows developments with cast and crew interviews and a peak at the show's evolution from idea to final product. Andy Diggle and Jock's "Green Arrow: Year One" and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Trilogy" are cited as the main sources of inspiration. Up next is a study of the fighting and stunt work for the show un the featurette "Arrow Fight School/Stunt School," running about twenty minutes. The featurette looks at the fighting styles used, the stuntment, and how the fights play into the overall story. The final featurette is the roughly 30-minute "Arrow: Cast and Creative Team at the 2013 PaleyFest," which covers a panel spotlighting the show's cast and crew at PaleyFest event. The disc wraps up with a gag reel and some trailers.

With nearly two hours of additional content, fans have plenty of goodies to sift through long after they revisit the entire first season. My only complaint - and one I will repeat over and over until it changes - is the horrible default menu system Warner Home Video is using for these releases. They look cheap and poorly made. I can understand the studio trying to go for a type of house design with having similar menus across the board, but do they really have to look like this? It's awful.

To wrap things up, if you're a fan of Arrow, this collection is a must-own. The show looks fantastic, and bonus content is worthwhile, and it's a solid overall package. If you're a casual fan, or interested in giving the show a spin, I'd still recommend it. Just power through the first chunk of the season - the episodes are still good, don't get me wrong - and you'll be in for a genuinely fantastic series. You don't have to be a fan of the "Green Arrow" comic series to give this show a spin - it's does an excellent job at introducing new fans to its world, and provided more than enough to make them stick around (although, if you're now interested in reading "Green Arrow" comics, I'd recommend starting with Canada's own Jeff Lemire's run on the book, which just started a few months back - brilliant stuff). Warner Home Video has created an excellent release with Arrow: The Complete First Season, one deserving of space on anyone's shelf. Highly Recommended!

Also, if this isn't enough for you, I highly recommend picking up the truly excellent Arrow – Original Television Soundtrack: Season One soundtrack, available on Compact Disc and Digital Download from WaterTower Music, and the new DC Comics release Arrow - Volume One trade paperback collection. Both of these products are very much worth your time if you're an Arrow fan, especially the incredibly well put-together soundtrack release, which features probably some of the best scoring on television today. The comic collection is equally excellent, with short stories filling in character backstories and expanding on certain episodes. Bopth are currently available to buy via retail or online outlets.


Package Art and Menu Systems


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MP4 Quicktime Clip #5 -- MP4 Quicktime Clip #6

Arrow – The Complete First Season is now available to own on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download from Warner Home Video. Also available for purchase is Arrow – Original Television Soundtrack: Season One on Compact Disc and Digital Download from WaterTower Music and Arrow - Volume One from DC Comics.