Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), playboy son of a billionaire, is stranded for five years on a desert island in the North China Sea when his father's yacht goes down in a storm. Before he dies, his father (Jamey Sheridan) tells Oliver that his, the father's, associates have plundered Starling City, their home and asks Oliver to survive, return to Starling City, and right his wrongs.
In spite of what he tells everyone on his return, we learn very soon that Oliver was not alone on the island. We also learn that the "associates" who are plundering the city include his mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson), and Malcom Merlin (John Barrowman), the father of Oliver's best friend, Tommy (Colin Donnell).
Complicating his welcome is that fact that accompanying him on this trip was his girlfriend's (Laurel Lance, played by Katie Cassidy) sister, Sarah (Caity Lotz), who was killed. Not only does Laurel have mixed feelings about Oliver, but her father, Det. Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) actively hates him (not that he ever thought much of Oliver to begin with).
To fulfill his father's dying wish, Oliver disguises himself with a hood and takes a bow and arrow to the bad guys.
As background to his adventures in Starling City, we are given flashbacks to his time on the island, where he was first rescued by a banished Chinese general, Yao Fei (Byron Mann), then by a stranded Australian intelligence agent, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), both of whom begin his training (by necessity -- he's not only not a fighter, he's a liability), and finally by Yao Fei's daughter, Shado (Celine Jade).
If this sounds complicated, remember it's the set-up for twenty-two episodes -- this description is bare bones. As it plays out, the series is equal parts action/adventure, melodrama, and soap opera. The action sequences are well done, sharp, fast a beautifully choreographed. The melodrama/soap opera sections are an attempt, I think, to give some depth to the characters, and are moderately successful. They would have been more successful, I think, if they hadn't killed the pacing. The same holds true for the bulk of the flashbacks -- there's a lot of talking, not a lot of doing.
However, despite its flaws, I've watched the first season several times and am getting ready for the second, which is finally on Netflix. It's a nice way to kill an hour or two in the evening.
(DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, Berlanti Productions, 2012) For full credits, see the listing at IMDb.