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Put an ARROW Through the BEAST

OK. I’ve managed to get my hands on the pilots for both Arrow and the Beauty and the Beast reboot. And while I’m not going to give away any spoilers, there are some observations I can share early and see how they float. Let’s start with the one that interests fans the most.


First, it’s not Smallville, even though they’re re-using the Luthor mansion. Arrow is completely different in tone. It’s not light. It’s not fluffy. And that’s a good thing. This show has a challenge in that a lot of people are going to be expecting the Justin Hartley character from Smallville, besides the worldbuilding most new shows have to do right from the start.

Fortunately, Arrow manages to accomplish both. It very quickly establishes that this is not a spinoff, and it does a fair amount of setting the scene and laying out who’s who while still moving the story forward. Actually, it accomplishes quite a bit in the first hour:

  • Gives us the back-story of Oliver Queen, party boy.
  • Establishes Oliver’s father was not everything he appeared to be
  • Establishes the love-hate relationship between Oliver and Laurel
  • Gives us a possible rivalry set-up
  • Gives us Speedy, complete with baggage
  • Introduces all of the main world-building elements
  • Establishes the foundation of the conspiracy

And it does this without feeling cheesy. Granted, there are a couple of places where the dialogue feels a little clunky and forced. And I can do without the noir-wannabe narration. And someone needs to do some fact checking. You have to wait seven years to declare someone dead, not five. Writers, beware. There are people who will call you on that kind of mistake.

Plus, there’s Paul Blackthorne! Who can pass up a chance to see Harry Dresden again? He’s scruffy and gruff and rough around the edges, just like a good Gotham City cop ought to be. Even though this is (ahem) Starling City. Why they changed it is anyone’s guess. Star City is just fine, has been for how many years in the comics? Unless there’s a particular reason to change it for the sake of the story, which may play out over time.

Say, if Starling City became home to the Birds of Prey, maybe? Reaching, I know. But writers are known for that kind of cutesy-clever crap. Arrow is a definite improvement over the Smallville version of Green Arrow. And its cast is young and pretty enough to fit into the CW mix just fine.

Speaking of pretty…


… stretches the boundaries of “suspension of disbelief” way too far for the show to last very long.

This show also has a narration, but I think that’s a hold-over from the original CBS show starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman (sort of). This one takes the same characters from that show – Catherine Chandler and Vincent – and gives them a CW make-over. (I swear Kristin Kreuk does not age at all. She looks the same as she did the first season of Smallville.) The setup is fairly similar – Catherine is attacked, saved by Vincent, changes her occupation to go after bad guys.

In the original, she went from corporate lawyer to assistant district attorney. This time, she goes from law student to New York cop. OK. And there’s a conspiracy.

Vincent has undergone the most transformation. Falling in line with the CW’s trend of casting interchangeable good-looking people, he’s not covered in four hours of make-up as Ron Perlman was. And that pretty much yanks the spine out of the entire point of the story. “Beauty and the Beast” has always been about love winning over the idea of appearances. The fact that the Beast is a monster is at the core of the story. Beauty is won over by his kindness and compassion. What matters to her is on the inside. This version of the show does away with all of that.

And note: the oldest member of the cast (the boss cop) is only thirty-seven years old. And the coroner is British? Huh?

So, it appears that the CW will be taking its cue from “The Vampire Diaries” (and maybe “Teen Wolf”) in that the show is going to depend entirely on longing looks and a conspiracy, with no deep subtext.

Looking at the two pilots, Arrow comes out of the gate stronger. Beauty and the Beast is going to have to work a little bit to get over the hobbling uneven start.

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

One thought on “Put an ARROW Through the BEAST

  • You touch upon a lot of issues that I have with both SMALLVILLE & VD (Vampire Diaries for anyone who might mistake the acronym for my distaste of STD’s)

    One of the major reasons why I stopped watching SMALLVILLE, was because it became a DAWSON’s CREEK with superpowers (stolen from an article when SMALLVILLE first premiered). The teenage angst and ‘will they won’t they’ romance sub plots, overpowered (pun intended) the cooler conflicts of the show. Same with VD: the storyline does have some bits of originality added in the Vampire mythos, but the constant events as a back drop for pretty people to have somewhere to go, gets in the way of all that.

    I truly hope ARROW doesn’t rely too heavily on any of that and establishes a more mature tone over all. If SUPERNATURAL shows us anything, it’s that The CW CAN have a show that isn’t all about hunks and dames pining for one another amidst life threatening conflicts with the latest pop single blaring in the background.


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