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Superhero drama 'Arrow' hits the bull's-eye

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The first of the CW's new shows premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, and it's a good one. "Arrow," based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, is the tale of Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy shipwrecked on an island for five years and presumed dead, who returns to Starling City intent on cleaning up the corruption that now runs rampant.

It's a superhero drama but not. While the character is a hero, executive producer Mark Guggenheim (who has written for Marvel and DC Comics) said the folks who run the show approach the series "more like a crime thriller than a live-action comic book."

That's perhaps most evident in the look of the film. This is a dark, gritty superhero world, more akin to Christopher Nolan's Gotham City than the world of "The Avengers." It's a dirty place, marked by a muted color palette and the desolate former warehouse of Oliver's late father, which serves as Green Arrow's headquarters.

Also, his costume is much less flashy than that of many superheroes, including the version of the character played by Justin Hartley on the Superman drama "Smallville." (Hartley returns to the network Oct. 16 in the new series "Emily Owens, M.D.") It's dark green, which I imagine will make it easier for him to blend into the shadows than Hartley's bright green one.

The show comes from Greg Berlanti ("Everwood," "Brothers and Sisters," "Political Animals"), which means we should get plenty of character development to go with the villain-of-the-week stories. Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg has already hinted at that, saying, "Every week is sort of its own origin story. We're seeing both the hero and how he got that way."

Canadian actor Stephen Amell plays the hero. He's seriously buff -- a must for superheroes (watch for his hardcore pull-ups in the pilot) -- and he's got very expressive eyes. I really noticed them in Oliver Queen mode, but they'll surely come in handy during his masked vigilantism, as well. And speaking of eyes, it doesn't hurt that he's easy on them, too.

Also in the cast are Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, Oliver's ex and a Legal Aid lawyer; Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn, his rich playboy best friend; Willa Holland as his sister; Susanna Thompson as his mom; Colin Salmon as Walter Steele, his father's former business associate and his mom's new husband; and Paul Blackthorne as a cop out to unmask Green Arrow. Jamey Sheridan is seen in flashbacks as his father.

If you're looking for a superhero fix to tide you over until "Iron Man 3" hits theaters in May, or you need an action-packed pick-me-up to get you through hump day, be sure to check out "Arrow."

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Also premiering

"Chicago Fire": 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, NBC. This workmanlike drama from "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf can be summarized in one word: hot. As in hot fires, hot bodies and hot tempers. It's centered on a fire station where tensions are high among the beautiful people working there after a team member's death.

The cast includes Jesse Spencer ("House"), Taylor Kinney ("Trauma"), Lauren German ("Hawaii Five-0") and Monica Raymund ("Lie to Me"). Fun facts on Kinney: he studied business management at WVU before he got into acting, and he's dating someone else with a West Virginia connection: Lady Gaga (her mom is from the Mountain State and her grandmother still lives here).

"Nashville": 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, ABC. Connie Britton shines in the trailer for this Music City soap, elevating my curiosity from ambivalent to mildly interested. She plays an aging country queen forced by her record label to team up with a white-hot country pop starlet (Hayden Panettiere, "Heroes"). Each episode will feature original songs produced by Grammy and Academy Award winner T-Bone Burnett ("Crazy Heart," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?").

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Series premieres: "Nor'easter Men," 9 p.m. Thursday, History (New England fishermen); "Crash & Bernstein," 8:30 p.m. Monday, Disney XD (a boy's puppet comes to life); "To Catch a Smuggler," 9 p.m. Monday, National Geographic (JFK customs agents); "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Lifetime (with Abby Lee Miller of "Dance Moms"); "Keyshia & Daniel: Family First," 10 p.m. Tuesday, BET (R&B star Keyshia Cole); "Bid & Destroy," 9 p.m. Wednesday, National Geographic (demolition team).

Network season premieres: "30 Rock," 8 p.m. Thursday, NBC; "The Cleveland Show," 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox; "90210," 8 p.m. and "Gossip Girl" (final season), 9 p.m. Monday, CW.

Season premieres: "Jersey Shore," 10 p.m. Thursday, MTV (final season); "Billy the Exterminator," 10 p.m. Saturday, A&E; "Pit Bulls and Parolees," 10 p.m. Saturday, Animal Planet; "Upstairs Downstairs" (Masterpiece Theater), 9 p.m. Sunday PBS; "Ink Masters," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Spike.

Timeslot change: "The Neighbors," 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC.

Rebroadcast: "Call the Midwife," whose debut last week was upset, re-airs that episode at 7 p.m. Saturday on PBS2 before the new episode at 8 p.m. Sunday on PBS.

Season finale: "The Next," 8 p.m. Thursday, CW.

Specials: "Hollywood Goes to Washington," 8 p.m. Friday, TCM (study of politically-themed films); "Winged Planet," 8 p.m. Saturday, Discovery (cameras on birds' backs give unique view of the world); "Steel Magnolias," 9 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime (all-black remake with Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah and more).

Schedule note: CBS' Sunday night programming begins a half-hour late, starting with "60 Minutes" at 7:30 p.m.

Of note: Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film's release, Daniel Craig hosts "Saturday Night Live," 11:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC; "The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror," 8 p.m. Sunday, Fox; Joss Whedon's super-villain musical, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, 9 p.m. Tuesday, CW.

W.Va. alert: The Hatfields & McCoys feud is the focus of "How States Got Their Shapes," 10:30 p.m. Saturday, History 2.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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