Arrow finished its sixth season limping to the finish line. Not in terms of ratings, though – it was once the CW’s top-rated show and was still in the top four at the end of Season 5. With Season 6 it remains a healthy #5.
But in terms of story ….
I still love the show – its first three seasons were some of the best things on TV, especially for a comic book fan. But since then the Big-Bad-style, although popular, dragged the show down. I think for Season Seven they should abandon it.
Seven seasons is traditionally the final season for most shows – casting contracts last for seven years and are negotiated after that on a season-by-season basis. If Arrow goes on to an eighth season, do not be surprised if major members of the cast leave. Those that haven’t already left or been killed off …
To keep the show fresh they need to dump the Big-Bad storyline. That is, one major villain dominating the series for the bulk of the 22 episodes of the season. When it works, it is gripping and exciting! When it doesn’t, it makes for long, tedious stories with neither plot advancement nor real resolution until Episode 22. In other words, the last three seasons of Arrow.
“He’s one step ahead of us!” “This will work! We can defeat him!” Nope. Oh, occasionally the Big Bad has a set back and is even captured! But he will get back on his feet and escape. After a rare episode featuring a new or returning villain in a done-in-one show or a one-episode character study (“I’m leaving for good!”), we are back to the undefeatable Big Bad.
“Hoping this is their chance to stop (insert name of Big Bad) once and for all …” seems to begin the synopsis for 3/4ths of Arrow’s IMDB’s Episode Lists …
The Big-Bad style was done poorly over last three seasons of Arrow. By the time of the Big Finish, I stopped caring… And apparently, I’m not the only one:
Here is a website tracking Arrow’s ratings this season: https://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/arrow-season-six-ratings/
Pretty abysmal for a network show, although still respectable for cable/satellite channels. Click on any of the dates and you will usually see Arrow dead last among the networks selected (but note they are comparing, say, the CW to CBS …).
But the highest ratings over the last several weeks were from done-in-one shows: Roy Harper’s and Nysa Al Ghul’s return (Episodes 15 & 16), when we get back this season’s Big Bad, ratings tanked. Almost two hundred thousand viewers stopped watching.
The finale was the highest-rated show since January 25th and was the sixth-highest rated show of the season.
Sixth? The rip-roaring conclusion was only sixth?
Should that be a big enough hint for the producers?
The season began with Cayden James being the Big Bad: from the Arrow Wiki: “Believing Oliver Queen was responsible for the death of his son, the master hacker committed a series of attacks throughout Star City, wanting to avenge his son’s death and formed his own cabal to do so. It was later proven to him that Oliver was not responsible for Owen’s death, and James was subsequently taken into custody. Shortly thereafter, he was killed by the true mastermind behind his son’s death; James’s former associate Ricardo Diaz.”
The second half of the season revealed Diaz, played by the excellent actor Kirk Acevedo, as the true Big Bad.
Unfortunately, Diaz was much like Adrian Chase (last season’s Big Bad): an Olympian-level (but not too super-powered) athlete who was always one step ahead, had the local law enforcement on his side … yadda yadda ad nauseum…
Season 6 was a cut and paste of Season 5. Both had an exciting conclusion but the dozen-plus episodes leading up to it was tedious television. I may have to treat Arrow Season 7 as I did Agents of Shield 2 & 3: watch only prime-numbered episodes (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc.), the mid-season cliff-hanger, and the last two shows. I wouldn’t lose any of the plot. And that’s a shame.
(Obviously this doesn’t count the line-wide cross-over. This year it was “Crisis on Earth-X” and got Arrow it’s highest rating of the year. The show had no sign of Cayden James or Ricardo Diaz. Hint. Hint.)
And don’t think we didn’t notice Arrow copying this season’s Flash plot with its “our-hero-is-on-trial” sub-plot – Arrow even copied the resolution – with Christopher Chance taking Ralph Dibny’s role!
(and hey, I’ve got to include this: I love Kirk Acevedo’s channeling his inner-Al Pacino as Diaz, but to bring in Rene’s daughter during the trial as a silent threat? Holy Vincenzo Pentangeli!
The solution? Only feature the Big Bad in half your episodes. Make the other 11 done-in-one or two-or-three-part (separate and resolved) story-arcs.
Gaining new viewers in a seventh season will be very hard to do. This might make for a good jumping-on point for what may be its last season.
But what do I know? Who am I?
I may be one of the two hundred thousand viewers lost, that’s who…
Original material copyright 2018 Michael Curry