15 October 2014

Stand-In City

I've been working my way through the CW series Arrow via Netflix. It's based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, a lesser known member of the stable that includes Batman and Superman.

Arrow premiered two years ago, and by the time I noticed last fall that its first season was available to stream on Netflix, season two had already started. Last year it got compared to ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., another comic book-based series and one that had an up-and-down first season. More than once I read that someone thought Arrow was better than S.H.I.E.L.D., and I was already watching that, so it made sense for me to investigate Arrow.

Knowing that the third season of Arrow would start airing in early October, I started watching season one in August. It took longer than I expected, but even if I'd finished it more quickly, Netflix and CW decided to delay streaming of season two until last Wednesday, the day of the season three premiere. As it happened, I finished season one and started season two over the weekend, so I still have at least a couple of weeks to go before I'm caught up. Meanwhile I'm recording the new episodes and holding them on my DVR.

The point of all this is that, while watching an episode last night, I noticed something curious. In the between-scene skyline shots of the fictitious Starling City, where Arrow lives, there were some very familiar-looking elements:
Does anything look familiar?
How about this? (Someone is supposed to be using an abandoned clock tower as a hideout, so this one was followed by a shot of a set built to appear how the inside of this might look.)
Or this?

What I thought was strange was that I'd already watched more than 25 episodes of the show, and this was the first time I could remember recognizing any shots as being of the Boston skyline. The show films in Vancouver, and I had assumed that they were using that city's skyline for the sake of simplicity. But according to IMDB, the skyline shots include footage from a number of cities including Philadelphia; Frankfurt, Germany; Boston; Tokyo; and Singapore.

That's an interesting approach, but it seems like the show would want to mix shots from different cities, instead of all the shots in an episode being of one city, as this one was. I don't know who makes such decisions in a TV production—the editors, perhaps?

Plenty of shows have been set in Boston, with production based elsewhere but using shots like these (Fringe is a recent example that comes to mind). Of course, some shows have been filmed here too (well, maybe Banacek was only partially on location). But while I don't recall seeing Boston used as a stand-in for another place, it's probably happened before.
Here's one more from Arrow, of the distinctive Zakim Bridge from the north.

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