The bow and arrow is making a comeback. Katniss Everdeen, the teen heroine of “The Hunger Games” books and film, uses one to fight her way out of an adolescent death match. On NBC's “Revolution,” Charlie uses one to battle the bad guys as she tracks down her kidnapped brother. Over on “Grimm,” Nick has been known to pull out a more medieval version of one to stop a fairytale monster or two, while it's become a pretty handy weapon against zombies on “The Walking Dead.” Joining this list of archery-enhanced fighters is Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) on “Arrow,” the CW's take on the Green Arrow comic book character. “Arrow” isn't challenging TV. The characters are not complex and the stories are straight out of Superhero 101 — a man takes on a secret identity to fight corruption and injustice — but it's a classic, as they say, for a reason. It's a simple formula that pretty much always works, and “Arrow” is no exception.
Then again, there's no reason not to give a classic a fresh look. The new “Arrow” is still a modern-day Robin Hood, just without the green tights. This “Arrow” wears a hoodie and applies dark eye makeup, military style, to camouflage his identity. He is a playboy and heir to a vast fortune, who was thought to have been killed at sea when the yacht he was on with his father and his girlfriend's sister (with whom he is having an affair) goes down in a storm. The girlfriend's sister is swept overboard while Oliver and his father make it to a life raft. There isn't enough water to go around, so the father kills himself to ensure Oliver's survival, but not before confessing his crimes against the good citizens of their city and giving him a book listing all the corrupt people that have done the same.
Oliver's transformation to avenging hero involves an island and a mysterious Asian man. When he escapes the island, he goes home and, like all superheroes, creates a lair. This is where he forges his arrows and does strength and cardio workouts so that we can all admire his six-pack abs. Each week he picks a target from his father's list, puts on the hoodie and eye makeup and expertly shoots arrows at them before disappearing in seemingly amazing ways.
The rest of the action is based around the people in Oliver's life. There is his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), now remarried to his father's colleague Walter (Colin Salmon). She is somehow involved in what happened to the yacht. His sister Thea (Willa Holland) is the cliché of the spoiled little rich girl who likes to party and use illegal substances. His best friend Tommy (Colin Donnell) also likes to party and likes Oliver's ex-girlfriend Laurel (Katie Cassidy) who he started seeing after Oliver's “death.” Laurel is a beautiful and smart lawyer who does her bit to fight for the common man. She has feelings for Oliver. Then she hates him. Then she doesn't. Then she meets Arrow and well, I'm sure you can guess where that story is going. Mostly, these characters function as filler for the short sequences on Oliver's day job as wealthy man about town. The exception is his mother whose secret wickedness is sure to be a major plot point any episode now.
Page 2 of 2 - “Arrow” is silly, action-packed, no-thought-needed viewing. It's not going to make you ponder the nature of good and evil or explore the psychological implications of hiding who you are. It might have you signing up for an archery lesson, but mostly it will add a fun hour to your TV schedule.
“Arrow” is on Wednesdays on the CW at 8 p.m. EST.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.