2. Arrow – I almost put it at #1. I really did. Last night I tossed and turned all night debating whether or not I should do it. Part of me wanted to just in an attempt to get you people to give Arrow a chance. Ultimately I decided I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t disrespect what True Detective is doing right now, but in some ways Arrow is more impressive.
Look, I watch some crappy, total guilty pleasure TV shows. I understand why it would be easy to brush this off as just another “silly Tommy” thing, but I promise everyone that Arrow does not fall into that category. It is a legitimately well-written, well-acted (for the most part), and extremely well-produced show that does more than get teenage girls hot and bothered at the sight of Stephen Amell’s abs. Amell abs gets everyone hot and bothered.
It deals with real issues, like the wealth gap, addiction, lies and deception, corruption and so much more. It does it all adeptly without looking completely ridiculous like so many other CW shows do when they attempt to deal with the subjects Arrow does every single week. Is Arrow completely without total teen gush moments? No, it cannot completely bite the hand that feeds it. Everyone has to pay up to the CW piper at some point. However, the show serves as an excellent example of how network guidelines, especially CW guidelines, does not restrict creativity. Show runners for CW shows can no longer complain about the limitations placed upon them as Arrow has proven it is possible to create a top tier show on this network.
The most impressive thing Arrow does is choreograph and produce the best action sequences on television with a miniscule CW budget. The lighting team and gaffers on the show deserve an award named after them as they play a big part in the smoke and mirrors the show utilizes to give it a big budget movie feel.
Arrow has the most expansive roster of characters of any show on TV. This serves as both a strength and weakness. The strength is that it allows for a multitude of avenues in which to take storylines, or better yet makes filler episodes entertaining since it has so many great side characters to call up for an episode or two. It also keeps everything feeling fresh as no story arc gets overplayed and even when one is boring it does not last long. The audience will not get burnt out on the show by season four. There is just too much good stuff for the writers to allow that to happen.
The weakness of this expansive roster of characters is that a lot of entertaining characters disappear for long stretches of time. What the hell happened to Summer Glau this season. Did I miss something about her dying or going on a pilgrimage to Mecca? It would be fine if Arrow was a purely serialized show. Yes, it is highly serialized, but since it has a lot more masters than a Boardwalk Empire, a show with a similar deep roster, it needs to do stories at a more accelerated pace. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I wish things could play out over a few episodes or even half the season. Currently there are so many different arcs and groups of people plotting against Oliver Queen, aka the Arrow, that it makes the show feel more like a thrill ride than a TV show. My only hope is that most of these arcs carry over through the end of this season and do not get tied up neatly in a bow come the season finale. There are so many potential big bads that have the potential to stick around for if not the entire life of the series, at the very least a few seasons.
I have at least 10,000 more words in me about how everyone should be watching Arrow, but in the interest of not having everyone turn against me I’ll just end it with this point. It has Caity Lotz, which as you’ve seen is a very good thing.
1. True Detective – As a compromise for putting it number one over Arrow I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Plus when a show is number one there is not much else I have to say. Right now, True Detective is in a league of its own. Each episode has built beautifully on top of each other and now I’m starting to care more about the investigation, both in the past and the present, in addition to how incredible the lead characters are.
Another impressive aspect of the show is its grasp of the world in which it takes place. The Louisiana bayou has played a big part in the show thus far and it is a setting ripe with great story telling prospects. More disappointing than the total lack of excitement the Super Bowl delivered was the fact we were robbed of watching True Detective for a week. Thank God that will not be the case this week and for the next four afterwards. I cannot wait to watch this story unfold over the next month.