This year, we’ll be seeing four new television series based on DC Comics hit the air: We’ve got Gotham coming to Fox, Constantine on NBC, and iZombie and The Flash on The CW. This DC TV renaissance all began two years ago, when Green Arrow was given his own series. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit skeptical about how the show would work. The character had just appeared on a few seasons of Smallville, but wasn’t a “top-tier” character that I felt deserved his own series, or could even sustain one for an extended period of time.
Luckily, I was so, so wrong. Arrow quickly became one of my favorite shows on television. The series definitely isn’t perfect, as it occasionally dips into typical CW melodrama, but its hiccups are easily forgiven when you consider how faithful and respectful it is to its source material, which luckily includes the introductions of countless other DC heroes and villains. The action sequences in the series are some of the best I’ve ever seen on TV, and the show lacks “filler episodes” entirely, as it chooses instead to hit the ground running at every opportunity and raise the bar week after week.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first season, but things got even better in the second. Oliver Queen was no longer the only vigilante in Starling City, as his efforts in season one gave rise to masked copycats, fellow do-gooders, someone from his past fighting injustice as the Canary, a group of villains-turned-mercenaries called The Suicide Squad, and, eventually, a kid named Barry Allen who would become the Fastest Man Alive. That, of course, led to the appearance of more villains, who gave Team Oliver a run for their money with each passing week. Characters like the Clock King, Count Vertigo, the League of Assassins, Bronze Tiger, Sebastian Blood, China White, Deadshot, Professor Ivo, and of course, Deathstroke made Arrow one of the wildest and most exciting superhero shows in TV history.
One of my big problems with the first season was its darker approach to the Green Arrow character. In the comics, Oliver Queen is a fun-loving, joke-slinging archer who clearly has fun taking bad guys out with the variety of trick arrows in his quiver. Arrow‘s version of Oliver is much darker, and is frequently compared to the Bruce Wayne of the Dark Knight trilogy. He also showed no qualms about dispatching his enemies or racking up an incredible body count, and was nowhere near being a “hero.”
That all changed in season two, as Oliver began to learn from his mistakes and adopted a “no kill” rule along the way. That not only brought him closer to the character we know and love from the comics, but gave the series a lot of morally grey areas to explore and dissect. It became clear right from the get-go that the sophomore season as a whole is a bit of an origin story, as Oliver is slowly going from simply being “The Hood” to one day becoming “Green Arrow.”
The Arrow Complete Second Season Blu-Ray is an absolute must-own for fans of the show and of the character. There simply isn’t a better look at the DC universe outside of comic books than this.
Quality-wise, the box set itself is top-notch. The packaging is smooth and well-constructed, and thankfully fits in nicely with the rest of your Blu-Ray collection. The box is also rather simply constructed, and doesn’t contain any strange fold-out parts or complicated disc slots that eventually get destroyed as you re-watch the series again and again. (Smallville, I’m looking at you!)
At 1080p, the video quality is incredibly crisp, which goes a long way in a show that features a ton of nighttime action sequences, intricate sets, and superhero costumes. Watching the series as it airs is one thing, but revisiting it at home, on your Blu-Ray player, is a completely different and far more enjoyable experience. The episodes sound great, too, as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks provide a crystal-clear listening experience. The episodes are dynamic, and well balanced from start to finish. Even the menus sound and look great, which is sometimes a lot to ask for these TV-to-home-video releases.
As far as special features go, the box set boasts the following:
Bonus Recap Episode: Year One
From Vigilante To Hero featurette (24:12)
How Did They Do That? The Visual Effects Of Arrow featurette (11:17)
Wirework: The Impossible Moves of Arrow (09:43)
Gag Reel (4:44)
2013 Comic-Con Panel (26:10)
Unfortunately, there are absolutely no commentary tracks available, which is a huge disappointment for me. One of the best things about owning these shows on home video is being able to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse not only at the show as a whole, but at individual episodes. A show like Arrow presents a lot of opportunities for the writers, producers, and stars to talk about their decisions with the character and what went into making the show. I was really looking forward to hearing what it was like adapting these characters, why certain decisions were made, and how the writers and showrunners constructed the series’ expansive DC universe. Alas, we have to rely on the handful of other featurettes to give us those little nuggets of fan goodness.
The Gag Reel and 2013 Comic-Con Panels are exactly what they sound like. There’s nothing really special in either of them, though the Gag Reel does contain a great little snippet of Deathstroke that makes Groot dancing in Guardians of the Galaxy look like an amateur at a disco revival.
The bonus recap episode, titled “Year One,” is a great refresher course for those who either skipped the first season, or haven’t seen it in a while. The editors did a great job with cramming a season’s worth of content into one episode, though they had to do so through a lot of voiceover. That normally wouldn’t bother me, but the voiceover actor they chose leaves much to be desired. As it stands, he sounds more like the host of a reality competition show than an actual voice actor. Still, if you can get past that, it’s well worth checking out.
The “From Vigilante To Hero” featurette is a great look back at the series and a wonderful peek behind the curtain that not only breaks down what goes into making the series, but the philosophies that go into adapting a character like Green Arrow with a modern, darker edge.
The “Wirework: The Impossible Moves of Arrow” featurette was surprisingly my favorite. It contains interviews with the stunt and fight coordinators, as well as Stephen Amell’s stunt double, as they break down the anatomy of the complicated wirework that goes into creating some of Arrow‘s most impressive fight sequences. The “How Did They Do That? The Visual Effects Of Arrow” segment, on the other hand, was a bit underwhelming. Instead of a comprehensive look at what goes into creating the VFX of the series, we’re treated to a few minutes of one or two scene dissections that, ultimately, are nothing new to movie or TV aficionados.
The deleted scenes are, predictably, kind of boring and don’t offer much to the overall viewing experience. There are a few good character moments mixed in that we weren’t treated to in the series, as well as a cool extended scene featuring Harley Quinn, but other than that you won’t miss much by skipping them.
In conclusion, the Arrow Complete Second Season Blu-Ray is definitely something worth spending your money on, especially since Netflix just announced that the episodes won’t be available for streaming until October 8th, 2014, the day that the third season starts. Sure, it lacks the commentary tracks that cinephiles like myself live and breathe for, but the other featurettes add enough of a behind-the-scenes look at the show to soothe your craving.
If you’re a diehard fan looking to add the series to your collection and revisit your favorite episodes, or a binge-watcher looking to catch up before Oliver and company return for season three, do yourself a favor and pick up Arrow: The Complete Second Season Blu-Ray as soon as humanly possible.
Despite its lack of commentary tracks, I can't recommend Arrow: The Complete Second Season on Blu-Ray enough.