We’ve come to the start of another Network Television season, and I’ve had a summer off to ponder these important thoughts and questions…
- Thank God for the invention of the DVR
- How many shows can you possibly put in the city of Chicago, and why do I feel compelled to watch every single one of them?? (…not Chicago Fire, though, but we can talk about that another time…)
- …….Grey’s Anatomy is still on?
- Thank God for the invention of Netflix
- I can’t believe the same people are in charge of both The Flash and Arrow
Now, I feel like that final statement needs some clarification. I love Arrow. I have been one of its biggest fans throughout its 4 roller coaster seasons. I will watch it when the 5th season starts in September. Stephen Amell might be one of my favorite people that has ever existed. But at the moment, with the finale of Season 4 still relatively fresh in my mind, I feel very confident in saying that it’s no longer a good show, and that I hope Season 5 makes me eat these words.
I also must include that this article has nothing to do with Legends of Tomorrow or Supergirl. Both shows have a solid premise and should be much, MUCH better than their inaugural seasons displayed, but I’m going to focus on the 2 flagship shows of this much debated, often criticized DCEU (TV version).
The Flash vs. The Arrow
Greg Berlanti and Co. truly care about The Flash, the story of Barry Allen, and these characters. And boy, does it show. This show is not without its “side-eye” moments and plot holes (…it takes Barry and his ENTIRE group of STAR Labs Super Friends to beat a single metahuman per week for the majority of 2 seasons, yet when Zoom unleashes Earth-2 MetaHuman Hell all over Central City, Allen is able to round them all up in roughly 10 minutes because he has unshakeable confidence from the Speed Force?…hmmmm, I call BS), but it’s the closest thing Network Television has to a perfect Superhero show. Arrow on the other hand has struggled through its last couple of seasons, having a tough time that is both relatable, exciting and not absolutely out of its mind. I’ve narrowed down a few of the reasons why I believe The Flash works, and currently, Arrow does not.
Year Long “Big Bad’s” that are actually both BIG and BAD:
Season 1 gave us the Reverse Flash in the form of Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne. Season 2 gave us Zoom in the form of Jay Garrick/Hunter Zolomon. Both characters were steeped in comic book history and lore, being huge players in the narrative of the Flash. Both were portayed by more than capable actors in Tom Cavanaugh and Teddy Sears, and while not every plot point hit home the way we might have wanted, the characters lived up to the hype. Arrow began with back to back worthy advisories for Mr. Queen, as well.
Season 1 gave us Malcolm Merlyn, also known as the Dark Archer, who has continued to be both a thorn in the side of Team Arrow as well as a character bright spot in a show where the lights are fading quickly. Season 2 was Arrow’s “tour de force”, with Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, being the show’s main antagonist. Viewers were able to see his relationship with Oliver change via flashback from Season 1 to Season 2, and having him be part of both past and modern day storytelling, building a character that fans knew, and cared about.
While I’m hoping that season 3 of The Flash doesn’t rely again on the “oh, we thought he was our friend, but he’s actually a time traveling/world hopping speedster” gimmick, both of Barry Allen’s season-long foes were worthy of the label “Big Bad”. Thawne & Zolomon had a personal relationship with Barry, which made the conflict, well, personal.
This is what we saw from Merlyn & Wilson. Oliver was steeply invested in Seasons 1 & 2. Regardless of what the show tried to get the viewer to feel (or think), Ra’s Al Ghul and Damien Darhk felt disconnected from Oliver and Team Arrow, no matter who died or whose surprise son got kidnapped. Making the villains “bigger” does not necessarily equate to them being better. When you have a nuclear bomb destroying an entire city, yet it feels as if it had zero impact on the direct narrative, I think that is a sign to go back to what worked in the first place: Small scale, gritty and human. Prometheus, another archer with a personal vendetta against Oliver, is teased as the Season 5 antagonist, and I’m hoping that means the producers agree with my sentiment.
Characters We Care About:
Barry Allen might be one of the most likable and relatable characters on television at the moment. Granted, part of this is because Grant Gustin might be one of the most likable and relatable people in the world (that’s not an exaggeration, I mean it!). He was created by God to play this role, and I’m very thankful I get the chance to see his brilliance each week. But the rest of the cast is also made up of likable, competent actors playing likable, down to earth, heartfelt characters that you ACTUALLY care about. While maybe not quite to this extent, many fans felt similarly about Team Arrow in its first couple of seasons. These characters cared about each other, they were a family. Now? They are stupid, petty people, who make stupid, petty decisions that no real human being with real human being emotions would ever make. The voice of reason, and breath of fresh air, to Season 4 of Arrow? Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt, aka, the future Mr. Fantastic. He looked at this fantasy world with open, clear eyes, reacting like most of us would if introduced to a team of superheroes, with awe and humor. And it was awesome. Bring back…THAT!
Do Not, and I repeat, DO NOT, base a Superhero Show Around Romance…like…ever…
When first introduced to Arrow fans, Felicity Smoak was a beautiful, awkward, nerdy, IT genius whose object of affection just happened to be our playboy vigilante. Their banter was witty and their interactions made us smile. I was on board for “Olicity” from the very beginning, deciding that I was okay with the step away from comic book lore, where Oli would certainly end up with Laurel Lance. Then the worst possible thing happened…the producers and writers decided to listen to the fandom. I will admit my mistake in wanting this “ship” to take place, because throughout season 4 I wanted this relationship to burn in the fire of CWTV hell. Neither Oliver nor Felicity were the likable characters they had once been separate, now portrayed as bitter people in a relationship with lying, backhandedness (no really, that’s a word), and pure stupidity. The show focused more on their problem of the week than, I don’t know, say, the possible end of the world due to nuclear war. “Olicity” has played a major part in the downfall of this show, because it shouldn’t BE the focal point of this show.
Barry and Iris have had their back and forth feelings and some very heartfelt moments, but for the time being, that always takes a backseat to a Speed Demon, a Speedster from the future, and familial relationships. These shows are not about one character, or one relationship, and when the focus is put on one of these, the rest of the characters, and the show, suffer.
With all of this said, I still hold out hope for Season 5 of Arrow, I still want to be best friends with Stephen Amell, and I will still be watching religiously the adventures of the Green Arrow each week. I believe 2 months old is the proper time to introduce superhero TV to my son, so he will be watching along with me. But please, I plead to the writers and producers: Care about this show and care about its characters as much as we do, because that is so clearly evident on the Flash, not so much on Arrow.
Oh! And bring back the Flarrowverse Suicide Squad. I get it, the movie is out & the characters are the same, but that was the best thing Arrow had going for it, and I’ll never forgive you for taking that away from me. Okay, now I’m done.
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time husband, full time father & full time superhero nerd. The Geekiverse is extremely excited to have him back.
Looking for a new item to show off in your wardrobe? Visit The Geekiverse’s Online Merch Store, Geek Swag.