Monday, August 29, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Arrow - Season 4

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great acting and action, mostly good story
Cons: Over the top final couple of episodes
The Bottom Line:
Darkest DC show
Goes over the top at end
Still fun overall

“I Love How Playing Superhero is What We Consider Normal.”

Little did I know four years ago when I decided to start watching Arrow that it would turn into a gateway drug.  Because of it, I now have a superhero show that I watch every night Monday through Thursday nights.  While I do find myself looking forward to these others a bit more than the original, I still enjoyed season 4 of Arrow.

The producers recognized that season 3 got very dark, and they promised to lighten the tone of the show.  Part of that was having Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) take on the mantel of Green Arrow, who has more quips – at least in the comics.  Unfortunately, that didn’t quite pan out this season, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Season 4 picks up a few months after the end of season 3, and finds Oliver Queen and his girlfriend Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) living in domestic bliss.  They’ve moved to a suburb of Star City and are leaving all of their responsibilities behind.  That is until Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Thea (Willard Holland) show up at their door.  Star City is facing a new threat, and they need the two of them back to help take him down.

That new threat is Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), who is not being subtle about his desire to take over the city.  What isn’t clear is his end game.  What does he want?  We certainly know that he isn’t above using family and friends against our heroes, as Diggle (David Ramsey) finds out when a face from his past resurfaces.

While our heroes try to figure that out, Felicity deals with her responsibilities as the new CEO of Palmer Tech, her mother (recurring guest star Charlotte Ross) starts a relationship with Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne), and we meet her father (Tom Amandes).  And in a surprise announcement, Oliver decides to run for mayor.  What no one knows is, before the season is over, someone will die.

Think I just gave a big spoiler?  Actually, we are told that much in a flash forward during the season premier.  We are then left to wonder who it might be until much later in the season.  But I could tell from that moment this wasn’t going to be the light season that the producers promised us going in.

While I would have enjoyed a lighter tone (I do like light in case you haven’t noticed), I’m not complaining about the tone here.  This is still a solid show most weeks, and the characters are continuing to grow, which I enjoy.  The action is fantastic, and the standalone episodes are great.

Unfortunately, we do have some issues this season.  The biggest to me was the final few episodes, which were very over the top for the show.  Yes, we are used to saving the city, but here the characters were having to save the world.  And no, it wasn’t part of a multi-show team up, which definitely would have been cool.  Instead, it felt very 24 to me.  While I loved that show, that’s not what this show is, and the result seemed over the top and melodramatic to me.

In January, the newest DCverse show from this creative team started – Legends of Tomorrow.  This show spends a couple of episodes setting up the new show, which makes sense since it is populated with supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash.  The only time it felt like a weakness to me was during the November crossover with The Flash, which was about introducing a few of the characters and setting up the villain of that show.  I’m not saying that episode wasn’t fun, it just felt like what it was, a backdoor pilot.  On the other hand, we get the payoff to something set up in season two in these two episodes.

And they still haven’t abandoned the flashbacks.  Personally, I’ve never really felt they added much to the show.  Here, at least, they do tie into the main story near the end of the season.  Rumor is season 5 will be the final year of the flashbacks.  Personally, I’m can’t wait.

But as I said, the strengths of this show still certainly shine through.  We’ve got great characters who continue to grow and entertain.  The acting is great as well as all the actors have grown into their roles.

I already mentioned the action, but it bears repeating.  Each episode features plenty of stunts and action and fight scenes, and I just love them.  The work that goes into this show each week, shows.  While Arrow isn’t as heavy on the special effects as some other shows in the DCverse, but I find the ones they do have perfectly believable.

This set gives you wide screen and full surround on all 23 episodes from season 4.  They even throw in the first part of the crossover with The Flash to give you 24 episodes.  The extras feature two on Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Vandal Savage, which tie into Legends of Tomorrow and that 2-parter.  Related to arrow, we get the 2015 ComicCon panel, deleted scenes, and a gag reel as well as a featurette on Damien Darhk.

While Arrow continues to be the darkest of these shows, it continues to entertain as well.  Season 4 kept me tuning in episode after episode.  I can’t wait to see where we go next with season 5.

Season 4 Episodes:
1. Green Arrow
2. The Candidate
3. Restoration
4. Beyond Redemption
5. Haunted
6. Lost Souls
7. Brotherhood
8. Legends of Yesterday
9. Dark Waters
10. Blood Debts
11. A.W.O.L.
12. Unchained
13. Sins of the Father
14. Code of Silence
15. Taken
16. Broken Hearts
17. Beacon of Hope
18. Eleven-Fifty-Nine
19. Canary Cry
20. Genesis
21. Monument Point
22. Lost in the Flood
23. Schism

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