Wealthy playboy by day, enigmatic vigilante by night: can anyone go wrong with a tried-and-tested template like that? Unlikely. And Arrow doesn't disappoint either. This new show on Star World has got somewhat eclipsed by the more high-profile series on the channel such as the much-hyped Homeland (which is so liberally festooned with awards, you could mistake it for a Christmas tree). Or Grey's Anatomy (which has recently revived after a bad - as in really bad - patch when all you could do was pray that the characters would go into a coma in their own hospital and thereby spare us their darshan, so annoying and unlikeable had they become).
But Arrow, based on the DC Comics' costumed crime-fighter, Green Arrow, is the sort of engaging entertainer (with stylish action and suppressed emotion in equal measure) that you can unwind with on the weekend. The show is in its first season in the US as well right now and has reinvigorated the network, CW, on which it is telecast (CW has two other shows that we're familiar with: the angsty, addictive Supernatural and teen favourite The Vampire Diaries).
Arrow is the story of billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (played by Canadian actor Stephen Amell), whose life changes dramatically when he's shipwrecked on an island for five years. After his rescue, he returns to his home in Starling City, determined to cleanse the city of all the Bad People. His years on the island have turned him into a deadly killing machine, and he becomes a hooded vigilante at night, fighting his enemies with his quaint weapon of choice (bow and arrow). The show veers from Queen's dangerous mission in Starling City to his equally dangerous years on the mysterious island. There are strong shades of Batman and faint echoes of Hamlet. If nothing else, see Arrow for Queen's awesome body. (Also, the role of the hostile cop out to catch the anonymous vigilante is played by Paul Blackthorne, who, readers may remember, played the infamous Captain Russell in Lagaan).
There's finally something to look forward on the Hindi entertainment channels too. Star Plus is starting a serial based on the turn-of-the-century Gujarati novel, Saraswatichandra (which was made into a film in 1968 starring Nutan). The modern TV adaptation is being done by none other than the master of the grand operatic brushstroke, Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Though the show is starting only later in the month, Star Plus announced that it was going to do a web premiere this week. So I dutifully logged on and found a seven-minute clip from the show which I then dutifully watched. So here are my first reactions. The show seems to have rich production values (a rare thing in Hindi TV serials, most of which look like they've been shot in cookie-cutter versions of the same tacky sets). The narrative style also seems to have sweep. The novel is a solid melodramatic tale of star-crossed love with enough trials and tribulations to keep a TV drama going and audiences hooked. We'll know for sure once the show opens but for now, fingers crossed.