Arrow Season 1 Report Card: A-

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Going into the 2013 season, The CW took some chances with its scheduling.

And, like fellow freshman Beauty and the Beast, Arrow struggled through some initial bumps in the road.

However, it eventually built solidly episode upon episode, taking a strenuous path toward a grade of A- in this TV Fanatic Report Card, capped by the perfect note achieved in the finale, "Sacrifice." Scroll down for my Arrow Season 1 assessment and then chime in with your own...

Stephen Amell as Arrow

Best Character: Oliver Queen. I'm giving the gold star to our main character because he has such huge shoes to fill. He's the savior of Starling City while the entire metropolis wants to take him down as a criminal. Misunderstood is putting it mildly. Stuck for most of Arrow Season 1 portraying himself as the billionaire playboy instead of the man he had grown to be was probably his most difficult task. It became easy to take out the bad guys in his green hoodie because at least he was being true to himself. Slowly showing himself to the rest of the world as the changed man was one of my favorite character explorations of the year.

Worst Feature: Under-usage of well known guest stars. Does anyone remember seeing Kyle Schmid, Currie Graham or anything about The Royal Flush Gang now that the season is over? Seth Gabel as The Count lost out to his own drug, Vertigo. At least James Callis, as The Dodger, brought Felicity out on her first mission (and almost killed her) and David Anders' Cyrus Vanch gave us a glimpse of legal beagle Laurel Lance having a lot more fight in her than what she learned in law school.

Stick with what you know, Arrow. The cast you have is great and you don't need to rely on gimmicky guest stars to gain viewers or gather excitement. Your stories speak for themselves. If you want to introduce a one time villain of the week, let him be a great actor without the pedigree to take away the spotlight from the team that deserves it. 

Best Island Character: Whether he was an unknown force to be reckoned with or working with Oliver to save his ass on the island, one thing remained - Slade Wilson was the perfect foil for Oliver in snark baiting. Their chemistry was undeniable and best displayed through their dialog. Upped to season regular next year, it will be exciting to see how Manu Bennett plays into Season 2. Will he be the continuation of Deathstroke since his original partner in crime bit the dust? Whatever happens, please don't let him stop being a smart-ass.

Slade: What?
Oliver: I'm trapped on an island and my only friend is named Wilson. So... | permalink

Slade: I do have one idea. If you go into the forest and gather as much bamboo as you can find...
Oliver: Yeah?
Slade: We can build ourselves a boat, like they did on Gilligan's Island. | permalink

Most Shocking Arrow Reveal: It sure seemed like the hood was off for good a few times when Oliver showed himself to various people, didn't it? His real to Tommy in "Dead to Rights" was pretty damn incredible and drew a line in sand of their friendship, something that Tommy wasn't really able to reconcile himself with until his last breath. But the most shocking was the moment when Malcolm pulled the hood from Oliver's head on "Darkness on the Edge of Town." Only John Barrowman could have pulled off the stunned look that lead us into the season finale.

Fan Favorite Shout Out: I don't even know what this category means, but I'm making it up because I know that if I don't give Felicity Smoak the love of the fans she deserves in this report card, there will be hell to pay! From mousy, intelligent, Oliver-worshiping desk jockey to one of The Hood's most important teammates, she's taken to swinging on lines on Oliver's back and gussying up for the hottest soirees in town with ease. From just wanting to save Walter to wanting to save the world, Felicity has won our hearts. 

Biggest Twist: Killing off Tommy Merlyn was a huge risk for a freshman series to take with a popular character. That alone earns props. Viewers never imagined a scenario where he would be killed, and that made the scene shocking and extremely emotional, knocking our little dioramas down and forcing us to re-imagine where the residents of Starling City will be when Arrow returns. It was a deathstroke of brilliance. 

Worst Character: I'm sorry, Laurel Lance. If she wasn't so integral to the plot of Arrow, she just might be voted off the island. No, it's not Katie Cassidy's fault. They're writing her like a wooden stick. When they write her well, she performs well. Against Cyrus Vanch, golden. In the scene with Oliver in the hallway when he explained what we all need to know about his love for her, she held up her end of the scene. My best guess is the writers are waiting for Laurel's moment and until they're ready to give it to her, she's going to be on our nerves. 

Best Episode: The finale was perfect. While there were many top notch, five-star episodes leading up to the finale, it was so brilliantly played that it will stand as one of the best freshman finales in television history. It will be interesting to see if Emmy nominates finally realize there is a network called The CW and give it a nod for something. It was that good. Writing would be a good start. 

Grading Arrow is not easy. I tried to focus on the positive, but with an A- you do have to point out some of the negative qualities. There is some room for improvement, such as with Oliver's island scenes, but overall we're swimming in goodness with Arrow.

YOUR turn, Arrow Fanatics. Grade Season 1 now:

 

Carissa Pavlica is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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The grade with the second most amount of votes is an F with 22.8%. Given that 60% gave the show a A, and how the show fixes its mistakes in the begining, improving every single episode, I am going to assume that most of the people who voted F, didn't watch past the 5th episode.

Ronald-simkins

Excellent summary. I agree that Stephen Ammell has driven this series and has been a fantastic spokesperson. He certainly knows the various facets of his character. I just hope the writers don't cave into the comic fanatics. Don't make Roy a heroin addict. I don't care about the Black Canary at all. Don't listen to the slash/fic Felicity needs her own guy.

Neejan

Oops, gave it a D but I meant to give it an A. -_-

Fortyseven

Grade: D

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I agree, an A- and by far the CW's best show in the 2012-13 season. As with any new show, it takes a few episodes to find out what works and what doesn't, thus the deduction of a couple of points. There weren't any bad episodes, and the writers are willing to take the big risks that most other show writers never dream of taking. The hype around the final two episodes was huge, and both episodes exceeded all expectations. It would be pulling big ratings if it aired on one of the larger networks. Kudos all around, looking forward to the second season and hopefully seeing the show get the mainstream accolades it deserves.

Phxcowbot

abso an A - i was kinda bored the night the first epi came on and just kinda turned it on; and then I was hooked. I've trained in martial arts since my 20's and always pay special attention to the stunts - and this show has very special stunts, top notch work Oliver. Laurel bothered me from the beginning, she's awfully dumb for being a law school grad and awfully stupid for being the daughter of a cop; she just seems to stand around in tight sweaters and say and do one stupid thing after another. Gal needs to get tight with the writers.
looking forward to season 2.

Philly-ace

Without a doubt an A. The best new show of the season hands down. I love Ollie, but my favorite character is Felicity like the rest of America. Slade is awesome and I'm going to show some love to Shado. That trio on the island is deadly. I wonder what ever happened to Slade, Shado, and the others?

Sarah-silva

For me I give it a solid A.

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Best character: I'm also gonna go with Oliver. I was really unimpressed with him when the promos were out last year, but he blew me away. So kudos for that.
Worst Feature: Calling Thea "Speedy". That was not okay. At all. Even though I love her..
Best island character: I loved Wilson from the moment he came on just because of the quote. He's stuck on an island. and his friend is named Wilson! WILSON!! Epic. I wonder how much if at all it was done on purpose..
Most shocking Arrow revel: To Tommy. I was left like WHAT?!
Fan favorite shout out - TOMMY I LOVE YOU!!!!!! I do not feel all this love for Felicity.. Yes I know, I'm like the only one.
Biggest twist: Killing Tommy. I'm not ready to talk about this yet *ugly sobbing*
Worst character: Laurel bb, I'm sorry. I hope they do you better next season.. and the you and Ollie are forever happy together.
Best episode: The pilot and the finale. Amazing.

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I agree with most of your analysis, with these exceptions: I loved Seth Gabel's over-the-top portrayal of Count Vertigo. Hope he comes back. My least favorite "under used" villain was the one you liked - David Anders. And I thought Katie did a horrible job acting in that episode. Speaking of which, she's pretty solidly everyone's least favorite character. But I don't think it's totally the writers fault. She can't fight for anything, she looked so spastic in the fight scenes, I would cringe. And unfortunately I guess she's gonna be the Black Canary no matter what...
Speaking of the island, I love Shado - but she's being overshadowed by Felicity, so most fans hardly recognize her existence. I'm sorry she isn't going to be a regular at least for season 2. In fact, Felicity has outshined all the females except for maybe Moira, and who can't love her acting ability, both in her funny scenes and the more serious ones.