Category Archives: Best Of

5 reasons you should be watching ‘Arrow’

I can’t believe I’ve made it this far into television blogging without talking about Arrow, which has, in its two short years on air, become the show I most look forward to watching every week. If you’re thinking Arrow — based on DC’s “Green Arrow” comics — is just another soapy CW genre show with bland acting by beautiful people, you would be wrong. Arrow is the story of billionaire playboy Oliver Queen who, after five tortuous years stranded on an island, returns with a vendetta against those who have ruined his hometown of Starling City. Here are five reasons you should be watching Arrow right now:

Heir to the Demon

Stephen Amell as The Arrow (Cate Cameron/The CW)

Superheroes done right: It’s been a while since primetime television has done a superhero show well. Often the lower budget of television leads to cheesy special effects and off-screen action sequences. But not so with Arrow. Somehow, the producers manage to pull off at least one spectacular sequence a week — whether it’s an intricately choreographed fight, stunning trick shots with Arrow’s bow, a big explosion or a thrilling car chase.

A genre-lover’s dream cast: The titular star Stephen Amell was a relative unknown before being cast as the Arrow / Oliver Queen. But the show is rounded out with supporting actors and recurring guests who are sure to be favorites of anyone who loves sci-fi / fantasy. Watch for Katie Cassidy, formerly Ruby from CW’s long-running Supernatural, as Laurel Lance, Oliver’s long lost love. And Paul Blackthorne, from the TV adaptation of the beloved Dresden Files novels, plays Laurel’s father — police detective Quentin Lance. Other recurring guests include John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) and Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).

Actual character development: One of the interesting things about Arrow is that it tells stories in two timelines — the main story is in present-day Starling City, as Oliver spends his evenings using bad guys for target practice. The second timeline is on the island where Oliver was marooned for five years, and be assured that this is no Castaway story. There was a lot more happening on that island than campfires and coconuts, and the unfolding story there helps shed light on how Oliver transitioned from a spoiled, self-involved rich kid into the present day’s hardened sharpshooter with his own moral code.

Birds of Prey

Caity Lotz as Canary (Cate Cameron/The CW)

Girls who kick ass: Arrow may be Oliver’s show, but this vigilante is surrounded by women — both friend and foe — who are nuanced, tough characters not afraid to put Oliver in his place. Laurel Lance, her sister Sarah, Oliver’s sister Thea and his mother Moira all have their own interesting character arcs that don’t always revolve simply around their relationship with Oliver. And several of them have proven that they are just as courageous and tough as the show’s title character.

Stephen Amell’s abs: Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory.

via The CW

via The CW

via The CW

via The CW

 

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Snowed in? 5 TV shows to stream right now

Everyone from Denver to Boston seems to be snowed in right now, and cabin fever will soon set in. If you’re all caught up on your DVR and your street still hasn’t been plowed, perhaps now is the time to try out one of those shows your friends have always been telling you to watch. Here are my top picks.

Veronica Mars: Don’t let this show’s high school setting and spunky blonde heroine fool you. This show is classic noir, covering dark topics including murder and rape. But it’s also wickedly clever and features one of the best father-daughter relationships ever to hit the screen. This beloved series ran for just three seasons, so picking it up now won’t feel like a lifetime commitment. Plus, the Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie comes out next month, so this is the perfect time to join the fun. All three seasons are available to stream for free for Prime users on Amazon Instant Video.


Orphan Black: A woman runs into her doppleganger in a train station, only to watch her lookalike commit suicide. This kicks off what has become one of the most thrilling sci-fi series in recent history, starring Tatiana Maslany as the protagonist — and as the cloned versions of herself. The second season comes to BBC America in April, and the first season is available on BBC America On Demand, as well as for purchase on Amazon and iTunes. I was able to watch the first episode for free with my Prime membership, and I was so instantly hooked that I didn’t hesitate to pay the $9 to watch the rest.


Sherlock: If you’ve been on the internet lately (or, ever), you may have noticed that people are uncontrollably giddy about how much they love the BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous detective, and Martin Freeman as his Dr. Watson. There’s good reason for all the chatter. This series is, like Holmes himself, about as clever as it is smug, but the two lead characters have such excellent rapport and chemistry that it’s a delight to watch. Each episode is 90 minutes long, and there are 6 episodes (2 seasons) available to stream for free on Netflix. The third and most recent season just finished airing on BBC America, so if you missed them, you can buy them on iTunes.


Misfits: I stumbled on this lesser-known show via a recommendation from Hulu Plus, which knows my affinity for British dramas. And it has been my favorite “new” show in the past year, even though the first season aired in 2009. It is the story of five juvenile delinquents in the U.K. who are suddenly gifted with special powers after a freak hailstorm. The concept is straight out of comic books, but the execution is sublime. These teenage characters both hilarious and endearing, and the greatest moments come not when they are using their powers, but when they are getting to know each other and themselves. Five seasons (each 6-7 episodes long) are available to stream on Hulu Plus.


House of Cards: This critically acclaimed political thriller makes my list because it seems to have grown on me over time. Kevin Spacey’s performance as a power-hungry Senator from South Carolina is campy, but in the best possible way. Despite Spacey’s energetic performance, the show feels as though it moves a bit slowly, which is why this is a series made for binge-watching. No single episode will stick out in your mind, except perhaps Chapter 8, making the whole first season feel like a very long (but very good) movie. The trailers for Season 2, which will be released on Valentine’s Day, hint at some serious political and personal upheavals, so if you’ve been putting off this show, now is the time to give it a shot. The first season is free on Netflix.

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