5) The Black Canary
First, she was a teen with telekinesis in "Birds of Prey", then she was the mother of that teen who was quickly dispatched within one episode, then she was conservative radio talk show host on "Smallville", and now she's a lawyer with a Captain Stacy-esque and disapproving father and damsel-like tendencies. As far as I'm concerned, none of these incarnations even sightly resemble the Dinah Laurel Lance we know and love which has me simply asking......
What is so deficient about her that causes writers to tweak her in peculiar and ineffective ways? The Black Canary is a hugely successful character, though not on par with Wonder Woman or Catwoman, she is a constant fixture in the DC Universe with a sizable following. People particularly warmed up to the Black Canary and Green Arrow as a couple which almost never involved Green Arrow saving her from danger but rather out of a mutual respect and admiration for one another. Hell, "Birds of Prey" (the comic series, not the show) was largely successful and very much centered around the Black Canary, Gail Simone had even resorted to bringing her back when the attempt to distance her from the series failed.
Without her canary cry or at least her combat skills....this "Laurel" Lance (another arbitrary alteration) is basically Rachel Dawes without the belivability. Katie Cassidy is really, seriously not convincing as a lawyer and it's also really hard to see her flailing her arms and fleeing from danger when the real Dinah could easily thrash just about any thug. As a matter in fact, she did thrash a thug recently then reverted back to helplessness within the next episode.
My advice to the producers - Read "Birds of Prey", sign Katie Cassidy up for some judo classes or something.
4) More villain screentime
Arrow has been accused of "borrowing" from Nolan's Batman a lot and while I don't particularly find that to be a charming trait of the show, I feel like if you're going to swipe anything from the Batman franchises then it should be the compelling rogues gallery. Let's get some character actors in here, some recurring villains, no more villains of the week whom we'll never see again.
If Deadshot's going to come into the fold, let's make him relevant to Arrow's story in some way so that he brings out interesting aspects of Arrow's struggle. They almost struck gold when Deadshot implied Arrow was a killer but then, SPOILERZ, he's got an arrow in his brain pan a fraction of a second later. I don't know which is the sadder casualty- the death of Deadshot or the death of a potentially fascinating inner moral conflict within Oliver? Let's not forget, Deadshot made a GREAT point. Oliver's killed like 25 security guards alone by this point! This is why we need villains. They confront the flaws of our heroes without reserve and ultimately strengthen the integrity of their character.
3) No more anecdotal monologues or over-illustrated points that solve all emotional problems instantly
Listen, in real life, we're all huge pains in the asses when it comes to our emotional issues. How often do people effectively communicate and find the right words to deal with an emotional between intimates or family members? Next to never! When it isn't us and we're seeing dynamics played out on TV there is some leniency in that regard being time is of the essence and other storylines are going on simultaneously. BUT Arrow is somewhat out of control in this regard, I wonder why they can't let more things just stew.
Speedy is a junkie for a few episodes but her mother manifests the perfect analogy to her situation by bringing up a story about a stray cat that involves her dead father. Voila. Mommy and daughter reach a new understanding. Speedy doesn't like the way Oliver is acting so she takes him on a field trip to his own grave to help articulate the point that she felt closer to him in death than life. Now everything is perfectly okay between the two of them.
People don't act this way, as a matter in fact, people so totally don't act this way that it makes the emotional dynamics significantly weaker as a result. You can say "This is an action show" or "This is for men, none of that soap opera crap" or whatever to rationalize poorly conceived and one-dimensional relationships in this series but I think Arrow can do better. Why can't it be action-packed and emotionally informed?
This isn't 7'th Heaven, we don't need a clearly defined moral at the end of every story.
PS- 3.5 Please, no more voiceover filibustering about justice or injustice. We get it.
2) Less Super Sexy, Hot, Steamy, Model Sidecharacters
The hot IT girl, Laurel's hot friend at work, Laurel's hot father (played by an actor who's only 43), the bodyguard's hot galpal....yes, TV is a place of pretty people but if it's noticeable to the point of absolute ridiculousness on a TV SHOW then you know you're really pushing it. It's just goofy. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any pretty people or that there's anything wrong with being pretty, it just gives the show a distractingly synthetic vibe that doesn't do any favors for it's alleged "grittiness". I'm uncomfortably attracted to Laurel's father and this IT chick looks like a Playboy bunny infiltrating a major corporation by pretending to be an IT chick using a naughty librarian porno as a reference.
Come on, people, this doesn't reflect even an approximate reality and this show isn't so extravagant it can get away with it. Let's see real people. There's enough sexpots on the cast, they aren't hurting for sex appeal over at Arrow so let's dial it back a little.
1) Better Acting
This sounds condescending to say but I do actually mean to say it with compassion- Most of these kids are in over their heads and I'm starting to feel bad for them. I don't hate anyone on the cast actually, in a strange way, I'm almost rooting for them in spite of my cringing through their performances. Stephen Amell is so cute and sincerely trying but he's just not hitting the mark, it's like watching a golden retriever try to be a jackal. Katie Cassidy is even kind of likeable but there's no sass to her performance, no palpable assertiveness. I think Willa Holland could be great but her faux rebelliousness is more soap operatic than it is endearing.
Here's what I would suggest as far as the leads are concerned.....
- Stephen Amell needs a character actor as a villain, a classic stage actor, something and anything he can work off of and he also would largely benefit from a romantic interest of a similar caliber. Think George Lazenby and Diana Rigg in the Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - a struggling actor paired with a thespian or acclaimed actor. George Lazenby got terrible reviews but he had A) less time to prove himself and B) a lot to live up to but in through a retrospective lens it is one of the best Bond films. Why? Diana Rigg compensated for Lazenby as Bond and the romance became the focus. Actors learn from other actors! Just look at David Boreanaz, he started off as kinda iffy on Buffy but by season 3 Joss Whedon felt he was capable of carrying his own show when he saw how much his scenes with Sarah Michelle Gellar strengthened his acting skills.
- Katie Cassidy or Laurel Lance, rather needs to get out of law and go straight to superheroics. Granted, there has to be a transition but with her I could see a much more fruitful path taking up a Lynda Carter-type role as Black Canary. Lynda Carter? Not the best actress. But when she put on the Wonder Woman suit it seemed as though it were easier for her to feel the character and play the role with more sincerity. Katie Cassidy needs that, she needs something to work with.