As the creators point out in the season's special features, a lot of Arrow's style actually comes from the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. While Arrow is about a superhero, it is very much grounded in reality and rarely goes into fantastical comic book subjects or explanations. It isn't all that much of a leap to think that someone in Oliver Queen's situation could become the character he is in this show.
Arrow: The Complete First Season starts off with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) being rescued from an island in the South China Sea. The audience quickly learns that he and his father were lost at sea five years ago and presumed dead. The other revelation that follows is that those five years have changed him from the young playboy that he was to something with much more depth. In a manner similar to Batman Begins, Oliver returns to his home city with a desire to cure the city of a sickness that has been growing for years. While crime runs rampant, Oliver believes that the random acts of wrongdoing are more of a symptom and the true disease actually stems from the top, that is to say, the rich and powerful who have "failed this city."
While Oliver only shows off a little of his troubled thoughts, he puts up a front to once again become the city's number one bachelor, all the while, he is working off of a list of names supplied to him by his father. While Oliver doesn't exactly know how these names are connected, at least not at first, he does know that each person in the list is not as charitable as he or she appears to be.
Oliver dons a green hood and a bow and takes to the night visiting the people in his list. His goal is to convince them to change their ways, but it is pretty evident that the first few people he confronts have no desire to correct the wrongs they have done. As the season progresses, The Hood's reputation grows, but Oliver quickly finds that he can't keep everything to himself. Eventually he enlists a compatriot that, for the most part, stays out of sight. While I don't want to give away who this character is for those who haven't seen the show yet, suffice it to say that Oliver's equivalent to Alfred isn't an old butler, and ends up being an even stronger moral compass than Batman ever really seemed to need.
Oliver's non-vigilante life isn't all that simple. When he left for the trip five years ago, he did so with his girlfriend's sister, so Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) has had some ill feelings towards her former boyfriend, not only for cheating on her, but also for leading her sister to her death. Of course, these feelings get worse when Oliver returns as the only survivor of the tragedy. Detective Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), Laurel's father, doesn't like Oliver either. The first offense was, of course, dating his daughter, but the primary reason for his dislike is the same as Laurel's.
Oliver's best friend growing up is Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell). Merlyn has continued his playboy life while Oliver was thought dead, and from Oliver's perspective, he hasn't matured that much, but Oliver does decide to hire Tommy to run a nightclub that Oliver starts as a way to not only give the young vigilante an excuse for being out at all hours of the night, but to also hide his secret lair.
Also in Oliver's non-crime-fighting life are his sister, Thea (Willa Holland), mother Moria (Susanna Thompson), his new stepfather and CFO of Queen Consolidated, Walter Steele (Colin Salmon) and his bodyguard, Diggle (David Ramsey). Oliver's need to juggle not only his night life, but also his family life and everyone's desire to learn what happened to him on the island is an interesting and major part of Arrow, but it is also only half of the story.
As Oliver's time after the island progresses, we also see flashbacks to his time on the island. We start to see just what happened to him, how he survived, and in this season at least, the events that started to shape him into the character he eventually becomes when he finally gets rescued.
Arrow does a good job of throwing in a good number of named DC characters. These characters include China White (Kelly Hu), Deathstroke (Jeffrey C. Robinson), Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Helena Bertinelli/ The Huntress (Jessica De Gouw), plus a few other surprises I would hate to give away.
Arrow: The Complete First Season comes with quite a few special features. One featurette interviews the show's creators as they discuss what what the thoughts were behind creating the show, while another looks at the stunts and fights developed for the show. One of the more interesting aspects of this is the fact that Amell does as many of the stunts as he can, they just happen to be rehearsed and planned out a lot by his stunt double and the stunt team. There is also a slew of deleted scenes and a gag reel, but what tops off the list of extras is a panel featuring the cast and crew at the 2013 Paleyfest.
I really enjoyed this first season of Arrow. It is a much darker and grounded series than viewers might expect and it takes a character that has only recently become more widely known and brings him to the forefront of the average TV viewer. What impressed me the most though was Amell's acting. He not only has to play the lurks-in-the-shadows hero and the playboy-by-day shallow celebrity, but the scenes that take place on the island show a third side of the character. At first, this is a character similar to the one that the post-island Oliver is attempting to act like, but the more time he spends on the island and the more he has to do just to survive slowly changes him and this version of Oliver Queen really is drastically different from any of the non-island ones. If nothing else, then seeing Amell flex his acting muscles makes the show worth watching.