Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Real Time Review: Gotham

I was not excited about Gotham, the new police procedural from Fox set in Batman's famous city, at least not until the excellent trailer they aired 3-4 weeks before the Pilot. The show intends to give us insight into Jim Gordon's early career before Bruce Wayne becomes an adult. I decided to review this one as my impressions were fresh.


The show opens early with Thomas and Martha Wayne being mugged and blatantly murdered in front of young Bruce. I say blatantly because the writers decided not to go with the were-they-or-weren't-they killed because of a mugging gone wrong. The guy, Joe Chill I hope, clearly guns them down after getting what he asks for, but also just as clearly, chooses not to shoot Bruce for unknown reasons.

Pre Title-Scroll

Acting is mediocre, directing is heavy-handed, Selina opening scene was...odd...unbelievable; homeless, pickpocket girl with perfect hair and heavy makeup? I like my first impression of Alfred. Interesting that they cast Harvey Bullock instead of Flass for this one. I'm guessing because fans are more familiar with Harvey from Batman: The Animated Series than Batman: Year One.

First Commercial Break

I'd be turning it off if it weren't, you know, Batman'ish. Far too predictable. Nothing interesting happening. Similar to SHIELD's early season, except not quite as offensively bad. Just uninteresting.

23 Minutes

Easter Eggs are always fun, when they're subtle. Every scene introducing a familiar name/face makes it very uninteresting. Penguin, Ivy, Riddler, Selina, all in the first 23 minutes? Really? The only "subtle" egg so far was Grundy as a street name--quotes are because how the hell is Grundy a street name. It jumps out too easily.

31 Minutes

Harvey doesn't want to pursue the route that Pepper might have been innocent because they would lose their jobs?!? The guy fired at police officers and was going to kill Jim when Harvey killed him. That could not be a more clear case of appropriate use of force. Harvey is clearly an idiot, but Jim going along with it? That's ridiculous.

A new villain every 8 minutes, then an unnamed comedian on stage? Really. What is up with the Hammer storytelling? [Addendum: I've since read that this guy may not have been the Joker (see below), though I think it's odd that they decided "We're being so blatant about everyone else, it will be a surprise when we aren't shoving it in viewer's faces with at least one villain" was the best approach.]

Final Verdict

The only character of any interest was Penguin, who was brilliantly portrayed. The mobster, Fish Mooney, was also handled well. Otherwise, not worth watching. There are too many good shows on the air to bother. It's far past time for show-writers to understand that the first few episodes of a series needs to give us a strong sense of what and why we're watching. They need to show us why their series is unique. Compel us to both want to watch the next episode and tell our friends about it. SHIELD and Gotham are/were sad excuses for series starts, weighing far too much on the rep of their subject material instead of solid writing. SHIELD only got good when they blew up the show and started with something completely different.

I hear it all the time and I'm tired of the "give it time to get its feet" excuse. Yes, shows sometimes take a while to hit their stride. That's NO EXCUSE for the terrible, basic writing mistakes being made in these shows. Great writing is a challenge, yes, but good writing with a team of editors, writers and directors shouldn't be falling in these holes. The lack of understanding about basic police procedures is just lazy!

Arrow was a wildcard that managed to do something surprising instead of giving us the expected "pretty boys on parade" superhero shows we typically get. Arrow got it right and hopefully the upcoming Flash series will as well. Gotham and SHIELD, though, are powerhouse properties deserving strong writers and production teams in an era of blockbuster superhero films. This amateur crap is a waste of time and money for everyone involved.

Penny Arcade seems to agree.

Joker Appearance?

"Basically, every episode in the first season will introduce a character that might be a future Joker, each emphasizing aspects of the character's iconography, a card sharp, a flower seller, a clown, or just a guy with a very big grin," according to Bleeding Cool. "All relatively unknown actors. All potentially a Joker. But only one of them being the actual Clown Prince Of Crime."

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