I wasn't blown away. But I think I liked it.
However, there was a LOT of set up going on, which included our hero being stranded on a mysterious island in Asia that dispenses kung-fu and the ability to hack computers and speak Russian, getting rescued, turning into Green Arrow, setting up all the characters and their complicated relationships, beginning the hero's quest to take down a bunch of people on a list ala Revenge, flashbacks to the island, and they still managed to squeeze in a couple of decent and oddly brutal fight scenes that set the tone for this dark comic-book inspired series. I think they tried to fit too much into an hour... Sheesh, this should've been a three-parter.
I guess I should start with Oliver, since he is the most pivotal character. For most of the episode he was stony faced and delivered his lines in a nearly emotionless monotone. Yet for some reason, I liked the actor, and to a slightly lesser degree, the character. Thanks to Smallville, we kind of already know Oliver Queen, which is good because they spent almost no time building up to him becoming Green Arrow. As soon as he arrives in the city he is already a hero complete with the resources and weaponry needed to fight crime. How he acquired that stuff so quickly hasn't been answered yet. I'll give the show the benefit of the doubt, since it looks like island flashbacks are going to be ongoing.
The rest of the cast were good, but no one stood out in particular. I liked Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and her father, Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who both hold Oliver responsible for Sarah's (Laurel's sister) death. We even got to see Sarah being swept away by the ocean, but we conveniently didn't see her body (see Billie's Ten Rules of Television #10). Laurel and Oliver have a romantic history, but it looks like he wasn't a good person before he was lost for five years. Oliver's friend Tom did nothing for me, but he seems marginally ambiguous, so he could be a villain or an ally and I'm honestly not sure I care which. What we do know is that he is in an off-again relationship with Laurel.
Then there is Oliver's rebellious 17 year old sister Thea, nicked-named Speedy who apparently uses cocaine to compensate for her being left alone after Oliver and her father were lost at sea... does the nickname seem a bit too much on the nose? She at least seemed interesting, even though we didn't learn much about her. I could see their relationship being one of the strengths of the series moving forward. Then there is Oliver's mother, who is involved with her dead husband's business partner Walter, and used criminals to kidnap and interrogate Oliver about what he learned from his father about the family business. Gee, what a totally non-twisted family dynamic they have going.
For me, I think this feels a bit too much like a dark version of Smallville without Justin Hartley or Alison Mack, but with the Luther mansion intact. Maybe the producers were trying a bit too hard to sell the idea of the superhero. I guess you can't sell a Green Arrow pilot without seeing the titular hero, but maybe this pilot would've been better served without seeing the green hood. Let's hope next week is better.
2 1/2 out of 4 Green Arrowheads.