Arrow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release
After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his loved ones welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he's become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow - a vigilante to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory.
For more about Arrow: The Complete First Season and the Arrow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see the Arrow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
As Smallville was preparing to take its final bow, news of another DC Comics-inspired CW series didn't come as much of a surprise. Nor did word that the upcoming show would feature Green Arrow, who had become a feature player in young Clark Kent's saga. No, the surprise was that Arrow wasn't going to be a spin-off starring the reigning small screen Oliver Queen, Justin Hartley, but rather an entirely new incarnation of the hero, completely divorced from Smallville's ten-season mythos. Stephen Amell was cast as Queen, a darker origin story was devised, and a deathly serious adaptation of the popular DC character's story was unveiled. Fandom split. Some bemoaned the exclusion of Hartley and the well-established Smallville universe. Others were excited by the prospect of a fresh start, delaying judgment until episodes of Arrow began to air. Inevitably, fandom split a second time. Some despised the new series and couldn't get past the obvious growing pains that dominated its first few weeks. Others were intrigued, willing to hold on tight until showrunners Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg's first season gained some momentum. It wasn't long, though, before Arrow found its audience, began firing its best shots, and turned into a series with Comic-Con clout and, by season's end, legitimate potential. Where will the future take the show? Time will tell. With enough viewers to sustain its own ten-season run, it's certainly off to a promising start, flaws be damned.
After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Armell) was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), much-beloved sister Thea (Willa Holland), and best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he's become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow -- a vigilante -- to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of the wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be, flanked by his devoted chauffeur and bodyguard, John Diggle (David Ramsey), all while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel's father, Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver's own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on, and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.
Arrow stumbles out of the gate with a cumbersome original tale (told via an endless string of island flashbacks weaved through the entire first season), slippery vigilante heroics, and a series that's initially more Young Bruce Wayne than Young Oliver Queen. It takes a good, long while for the writers to hit any sort of stride, and shaky performances, hit or miss dialogue, and a reliance on villain-of-the-week filler and secret society subplots hold the show back even longer. Thankfully, things begin to drop into place as ongoing Big Bads emerge and raise suitably sinister hell (chief among them casting coup John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn), familiar faces appear (Katie Cassidy's Black Canary, Manu Bennett's Deathstroke, Michael Rowe's Deadshot and Jessica De Gouw's Huntress), and DC Comics nods and easter eggs become more and more prevalent. In the second half of its first season, Arrow finds its rhythm, striking a balance between rapidfire action and dark melodrama with scripts that become increasingly more involving as the characters and actors settle into their respective grooves.
Perfect? Hardly. Arrow's biggest adversary is its budget -- an enemy that doesn't die so easily -- and the showrunners never quite come up with an effective way to inject Starling City scale into the smalltime series. The fact that most confrontations and conflicts involve cuts between closeups also make the show too chatty at times, which only makes the budding superheroism and supervillainy seem that much more constrained. Later episodes are more concise and confident, which helps, as does the focus invested in the more expansive storylines that spill from one episode to the next. Like Smallville, Arrow is at its best when developing a centralized mythos with a handful of primary antagonists. Unlike Smallville, it doesn't waste time giving Oliver his full skillset. Clark learned powers, one by one, season after season. Queen is a force to be reckoned with from Day One. He refines his vigilante craft, sure. But fans are given far more instant gratification, and the series benefits accordingly.
Will Arrow's second season rise to the challenges and obstacles that remain unconquered? It could go either way. But if the series' first season engame is any indication, Season Two is poised to get things right from the outset. Here's hoping Arrow graduates from decent do-gooder drama to must-see superhero TV. First season episodes include:
Homecoming: 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. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, Queen comes 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 friends and family, all of whom are affected by his return.
Honor Thy Father: Oliver heads to the courthouse to get his death certificate repealed and is pleasantly surprised to run into Laurel, who is there prosecuting Martin Somers, a criminal with ties to the Chinese Triad. Oliver recognizes Martin's name from his father's book and sets his sights on taking him down. Martin orders the Chinese Triad to "take care" of Laurel so they send their top mercenary China White after her, an act that culminates in a battle between Arrow and China White. Meanwhile, Moira and Walter ask Oliver to take over the company.
Lone Gunman: Oliver is surprised when someone shoots and kills one of his targets. As his plan is to bring people to justice vs. outright killing them, Oliver doesn't appreciate the help and searches for the gunman. He soon learns that the man, Deadshot, is taking out businessmen who are scheduled to bid at an auction on an energy company and Walter is one of the bidders. Realizing he can't protect his family and stop Deadshot at the same time, Oliver enlists Sergeant Quentin's help, but his plan has dire consequences. Meanwhile, Laurel and Tommy get caught in an awkward situation with Oliver.
An Innocent Man: Oliver still hasn't figured out how to get back in Laurel's good graces, but a late night bonding session with Thea gives him the inspiration he needs. Looking into a suspicious murder case, Oliver realizes an innocent man, Peter Declan, was framed by one of the targets on his list. As Arrow, he asks Laurel to help prove Peter's innocence. Meanwhile, Walter asks one of his employees, Felicity Smoak, to look into a $2.6 million withdrawal that Moira made without his knowledge.
Damaged: After Sergeant Quentin arrests Oliver for murder, Oliver tells Moira the only lawyer he'll allow to represent him is Laurel. Laurel takes the case which puts her at odds with her father. Oliver offers to take a polygraph in front of Quentin but things get tense when Quentin asks him if anyone else was on the island with him. Oliver flashes back to when he got his second scar, courtesy of Deathstroke.
Legacies: A gang of bank robbers, dubbed The Royal Flush Gang, hits a local bank and seriously wounds an off-duty police officer during a heist. John tells Oliver he needs to deviate from his father's list and start helping the citizens of Starling City. Meanwhile, Tommy asks Thea for relationship advice, but things get awkward when she realizes he was asking about Laurel. Moira confronts Oliver about all of his recent disappearances in the middle of family functions.
Muse of Fire: Oliver encounters a mysterious woman, Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of mob boss Frank Bertinelli, who he can finally be himself with, but he soon comes to realize she is hiding dangerous secrets of her own. Helena is on her own personal mission of vengeance and Oliver is caught in the middle. Meanwhile, Tommy is blindsided by an unfortunate turn of events and turns to Laurel for support.
Vendetta: As Oliver and Helena grow closer, Oliver trains her to be his ally, complete with showing her how to use a crossbow. John disapproves of Oliver sharing his secret with Helena as he's not sure she can be trusted, but Oliver refuses to listen to his concerns. Helena's quest for revenge proves to be too strong for Oliver to handle after she kills the head of the Chinese Triad and all hell breaks loose.
Year's End: Oliver discovers that after he and his father went missing, Moira and Thea stopped celebrating Christmas. Determined to make up for lost time and restore a sense of normalcy to the Queen household, Oliver decides to throw the family a Christmas party. Meanwhile, Tommy asks Laurel to spend Christmas with him but she points out that Christmas was also her sister Sara's birthday and she needs to be with her father. Tommy suggests changing things up might be the best way for everyone to heal but Laurel isn't sure her father is ready for that. Meanwhile, John tells Oliver someone is murdering the people on his father's list with arrows, which sends Oliver off to face his toughest adversary yet.
Burned: Oliver's confidence is shaken after almost being beaten by The Dark Archer and he takes a break from being Arrow. However, when Laurel calls Arrow for help to investigate a firefighter's suspicious death, he reluctantly agrees but his hesitance while fighting almost costs him his life. Meanwhile, Tommy throws a benefit for the firefighters and Thea tries to lift Moira out of her depressive state.
Trust but Verify: The next person on Arrow's list is John's former commanding officer and former mentor from Afghanistan, Ted Gaynor. Oliver suspects Ted is responsible for recent armour truck robberies, but John defends Ted and takes a job at Ted's security company to keep an eye on him. Oliver decides to make a move on Ted, which puts him at odds with John. Meanwhile, Thea suspects that Moira is having an affair with Malcolm. Tommy and Laurel have an awkward dinner with Malcolm.
Vertigo: Thea is in trouble with the police after she gets caught using a drug called "Vertigo". Oliver thinks the only way to keep her out of jail is to find the dealer, a man who goes by the name of The Count. Oliver turns to McKenna Hall, an old friend and current Vice cop, for help. Meanwhile, Laurel steps in to defend Thea, and Felicity gives Oliver some disturbing news about Moira.
Betrayal: Cyrus Vanch, a nefarious criminal, is recently released from prison and intends to re-secure his position as leader of the underworld. His first step is to take down his biggest opponent in the city Arrow. Meanwhile, Oliver shows Moira his father's notebook and questions her about the names on the list. Thea is miserable as she starts her internship with Laurel at the legal aid office and Detective Quentin makes a deadly mistake that puts Laurel in the crosshairs of Cyrus.
The Odyssey: After Oliver is shot, he turns to a surprising person for help Felicity. John is stunned when he sees Felicity walk through the front door of the lair dragging a dying Oliver behind her, and the two team up to save Oliver's life. As Oliver hovers between life and death, he flashes back to a seminal event on the island a daring escape attempt with his new friend Slade Wilson.
Dodger: Felicity tells Oliver he's all work and no play, so he asks Detective McKenna on a date. A jewel thief named The Dodger hits Starling City and targets someone very close to Oliver. Meanwhile, while working with Laurel, Thea gets her purse stolen by a very fast thief named Roy Harper. Moira makes a move against Malcolm.
Dead to Rights: Oliver and John learn that Deadshot is still alive and his next target is Malcolm Merlyn. Malcolm invites Tommy to attend a benefit honoring Malcolm for his work with Starling City but Tommy refuses to attend. Oliver encourages his friend to mend his relationship with his father while he can. Meanwhile, Oliver struggles to balance his new relationship with McKenna and his duties as Arrow.
The Huntress Returns: With his night club set to open and a new romance brewing with McKenna, Oliver is as happy as he's been since returning to Starling City. But when Oliver's ex, The Huntress, suddenly returns to town, she threatens to destroy everything and everyone he cares about. Meanwhile, Laurel and her father struggle with the return of Dinah Lance who claims she has proof Sara is still alive. Thea gets Roy Harper a job at Oliver's night club, but he's not too inclined to stop his life of crime. Oliver and Tommy are thrilled they were able to get Steve Aoki to play at the opening of their new night club, Verdant.
Salvation: A angry resident of The Glades who calls himself The Savior, embarks on a kidnapping and killing spree to punish those he believes have wronged the residents of his neighborhood. To make things worse, he broadcasts these murders online and claims he was inspired by Arrow's vigilantism. Oliver is horrified by this statement and vows to stop The Savior, but his manhunt in intensified after Thea comes to him in tears and tells him Roy has been kidnapped. Laurel is surprised when her father starts to believe her mother's claim that Sara is still alive. Meanwhile, Malcolm tells Moira to find the person responsible for his attempted murder.
Unfinished Business: When a young woman meets a violent death after partying at Verdant, Detective Quentin and his partner, Detective Lucas inform Oliver and Tommy that she was on the drug Vertigo. Oliver immediately pays a visit to the mental institution where The Count is locked up, but finds he is in no condition to deal drugs. However, when The Count escapes and Starling City is flooded with even more Vertigo-related violence, Oliver and John make it their mission to track him down. After Detective Quentin uncovers incriminating evidence against him, Tommy goes to great lengths to clear his name, and the fallout from his actions leads Tommy down a new, unexpected path. In a flashback to the island, Oliver recalls the lessons he learned from Slade and Shado.
Home Invasion: Deadshot returns to Starling City after taking down a U.S. Ambassador and six others overseas. By keeping tabs on A.R.G.U.S.'s manhunt for the assassin, Oliver, John, and Felicity, learn that a sting operation is underway to capture Deadshot alive. John is determined to see his brother's killer dead, with or without Oliver's help. Meanwhile, Laurel takes drastic steps to protect a young witness, exacerbating friction between Tommy and Oliver. Later, Roy Harper unconventionally pursues all leads to find his new hero, but runs afoul of Detective Quentin. Back on the island, Oliver recalls how Shado helped him incrementally gain confidence with a bow and hit the target for the first time.
The Undertaking: Finding it difficult to mend fences with Tommy and John, Oliver instead focuses on crossing another name off the list. While digging through a crooked accountant's laptop, Felicity discovers a transaction that could help Oliver find Walter. To reconfirm the lead, Oliver gambles that Felicity can be counted on in the field for the first time. In a flashback, Malcolm reveals to Robert Queen and Frank Chen painful details surrounding his wife's murder, and how that shaped his plans for the Glades. Meanwhile, Tommy stuns Laurel with the truth.
Darkness on the Edge of Town: With the Undertaking days away, Malcolm dons his Dark Archer costume and black hood to conclude business with seismologist Dr. Brion Markov and his team. Oliver and Moira entertain a number of surprise and mostly unwelcome visitors. Hooded confrontations at home and the Merlyn Global Group reveal dark secrets. Meanwhile, Roy and Thea are still looking out for Arrow. Laurel makes a decision after Tommy's revelation. In a flashback to the island, Oliver, Slade, and Shado, struggle to prevent Edward from shooting a Ferris Air jet out of the sky.
Sacrifice: Oliver and John race to stop Malcolm Merlyn from unleashing his vengeance on the Glades. However, they run into a roadblock after Detective Quentin picks up Felicity for questioning. Tommy and Oliver's already tumultuous relationship takes a turn for the worse after Oliver makes a confession about Laurel. After hearing of the danger in the Glades, Thea races to find Roy, inadvertently putting herself directly in the line of fire for Malcolm's devious plan. On the island, Oliver, Slade, and Shado, are locked in a life-or-death struggle against Edward as his missiles lock on a full Ferris Air jetliner.
Arrow hits dead center with a striking 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Razor sharp despite the series' grittier disposition, revealing despite its domineering shadows, and packed with primary punch despite its bleak palette, The Complete First Season serves up every detail showcased in its digital photography, without exception. Noise tends to spike at night and crush rears its head from time to time, but none of it appears to trace back to anything other than the source. Edge definition is crisp and clean, textures are well-refined, delineation is commendable, contrast is on point and black levels are rich and inky. Greens, reds and other splashes of color pop as well, lending the series enough of a flashy superhero vibe to pay constant respect to its comicbook roots. All told, Arrow's first season looks great, and doesn't fall victim to significant artifacting, banding, aliasing or other encoding menaces.
Though less nuanced than that of a big screen superhero blockbuster, Arrow's action-oriented sound design and fittingly fierce DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't disappoint. Dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout, without any serious prioritization issues or mishaps. The LFE channel packs plenty of heat too, with weighty low-end blows, sniper shots, explosions and super-powered clashes. The rear speakers dive into the fray just as eagerly, latching onto every directional ricochet, arrow thwip and ambient effect the soundfield has on tap. The resulting experience is a bit too pointed and punchy to be lauded as immersive or convincing, but as superhero television series go, it's quite engaging, particularly when Oliver dons his costume and dispenses justice.
Arrow Comes Alive! (HD, 30 minutes): A lengthy behind-the-scenes production documentary that digs into the series' origin, the work that went into adapting familiar comicbook characters for television, the challenges the creative team faced during development, and the steps that led Arrow from the drawing board to the pilot.
Fight School/Stunt School (HD, 19 minutes): Follow the stunt team, fight choreographers, actors and showrunners come together to make Arrow's battles and showdowns action-packed, hard-hitting and intense.
Cast and Creative Team at the 2013 PaleyFest (HD, 28 minutes): Another Warner Bros. television release, another cast and crew PaleyFest Q&A. And while it may not be the most revealing panel, it is engaging and entertaining. I'm happy to see these popping up on a more routine basis on television releases. Hopefully it's a trend that continues.
Unaired Scenes (HD, 26 minutes): Deleted scenes are available on all four discs. Episodes featuring unaired scenes include the series pilot, "Honor Thy Father," "Lone Gunman," "Damaged," "Muse of Fire," "Vertigo," "The Huntress Returns," "Home Invasion," "The Undertaking" and "Sacrifice."
Gag Reel (HD, 2 minutes): Short and not all that funny.
Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo Pack Contents (Subject to Change): The initial combo pack release of The Complete First Season features a slipcover (with the original pressing), four BD-50 discs, five standard DVDs, and an UltraViolet digital copy (Flixster download via redemption code, expires 9/17/2015). Please note: The Complete First Season UltraViolet digital copy is not iTunes compatible.
Arrow might just be onto something. Shaky for the better part of ten episodes, the first season soon gains its footing, levels out its aim and ambition, and begins hitting closer and closer to the bullseye. There are still some big problems that need addressed if the series is ever going to live up to its potential, but Arrow is well on its way come season's end. Warner's Blu-ray release is much more precise, fortunately, with an excellent video presentation and a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Additional bonus content would have been nice -- commentaries and behind-the-scenes documentaries especially -- but The Complete First Season gets the series' Blu-ray debut right. Mostly.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed the Blu-ray release of Arrow: The Complete First Season. The popular new CW series stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne ...
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