Being sick last week meant I had a lot of time where I was sitting around just doing nothing and trying not to feel worse. So, I decided to binge re-watch Arrow and Flash. Re-watching these shows revealed even further how different they are.
Throughout re-watching each of the shows it revealed some fundamental structural differences in how they are put together. Arrow is more about an over-arching sense of seeking justice and usually a continuing fight against a larger mysterious villain. Flash definitely comes across as more monster- (or more accurately meta-human) of-the-week. In the end it made Arrow a bit more re-watchable than Flash.
Some of the difference that stood out is the pacing between the two shows. Arrow definitely revealed a mystery pretty early on and then each episodes builds closer and closer to the climax. The build up is actually really slow in some ways, which means that when it is airing live we tend to not be as excited waiting week-to-week. Binge watching is fantastic though because it is not as long between the major build up events of the larger story.
Flash on the other hand tending to be a lot more open in general and the episodes were more about the crime of the week versus the larger mystery. Now there was the mystery of who is Harrison Wells, but since early on we knew Harrison was more than what he claimed we were already watching him with interest – and double-guessing everything he said. Re-watching the episodes did not reveal more than what was there, but the initial airing of the episodes kept us much more interested.
Now Arrow has had three seasons to get things right, which could be part of the issue, but each season shows a lot of character growth and changes. Oliver Queen in particular goes through a specific journey of discovery to find out what and why he is doing what he is doing. It often works out that he needs to change up how he functions both as Oliver Queen and as the Arrow. The show takes us along this journey with him and with his friends.
Flash does have some self discovery, but more of what is explored is the scientific discovery. They deal with the science fiction of the world. There is an ever-expanding repertoire of abilities and science things to be discovered. Barry Allen does discover things about himself, but it is more about him discovering new things about his powers and the way that the world around him has changed since the particle accelerator explosion.
The biggest thing that the re-watch of these two shows made us realize is that one has a better re-watch value than the other. We enjoyed watching both, but throughout Arrow we kept rediscovering references that were made early on in seasons that came to fruition, or things that seemed innocuous that seem to still be coming to fruition in the current season. Flash is so much fun to watch each episode, but a lot of that same element of discovery just was not there. It just gave re-watching the show a different tenor.