Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Gotham

Preface: I've been wanting to write a review column for some time, but really didn't know what to write about. Now that I'm back into some comics and TV shows, I have something to review. I kind of hope this will become a weekly thing, but if history is any indicator, it won't be quite that frequent. I'd also like to keep it relevant, that is, reviewing newish things, but who knows.

So, with that...


They sell a lot of umbrellas here.

As of my writing this, there are now four episodes of Gotham. I have to say, I am on the verge of letting this show go.

First of all, this does not feel like a superhero comics universe at all. This is a grim and gritty cops and mobsters drama. Some characters from the Batman oeuvre are present, albeit in something of a larval state, but not all of them have anything interesting to do. Episode 1: Pilot was particularly guilty of this. Besides the requisite Waynes and Jim Gordon, there is the Penguin, The Riddler, and maybe Poison Ivy? Oh, and let's not forget Selina Kyle, the future Catwoman, who seems to be photobombing every other scene.

I know that was only the pilot, and they threw everything at us at once to hope something sticks. Still, I had hope for the show.

In subsequent episodes, Oswald Cobblepot, or the Penguin (don't call him that, btw) grows as a character, and is to date the most interesting part of the show. He's playing both sides when we're introduced to him, and continues to do so even after a falling out with his former boss. I'm not sure what his angle is, playing the mob against the cops and against each other, but he's doing a pretty good job of it so far.

Fish Mooney is another one of our main characters, and to my knowledge is not from the comics canon. This is Jada Pinkett-Smith vamping all over the place. She's mean and dangerous, but charismatic throughout. She's an interesting character even if a bit one-dimensional. Whenever it looks like she might have some vulnerability, she completely undercuts it with her ruthlessness, and as much as I want to like her, I really don't. If that's by design, then they're doing a good job.

See the red? Red equals evil.

Gordon. I like Gordon, but he's your typical white hat cop in a corrupt system. This trope feels a bit played out even in the setting of Gotham. His paladin-like moral code makes some of the choices he has to make even tougher, especially since he has to play the game or face death at the hands of the mob. I feel like this is true to Gordon, but it's just not that interesting, and the conflict he has at home with Barbara feels forced and unnecessary.

Which brings me to Bruce. Oh, Brucey Brucey Brucey. I get it. It's Gotham. Gotham is all about Batman. We've seen the Batman origin time and time again, in two sets of movies, in comics, in animated series. We know this story. Origin stories are always and forever the least interesting part about superheroes. Why do we have to keep cutting away to Bruce Wayne? Why do we have to get an eleven-year-old's perspective on everything? He doesn't even seem like a real kid. He's reading his parents' files, he's following current events on the news, and worst of all, he's boring. I would much rather see a teenage Bruce Wayne. What is that guy like? Is he trying to get into the family business? Is he beating up muggers in his spare time? I'm not really sure when he put on the cowl, but it would be far more interesting if a proto-batman were out there, maybe getting his butt kicked because he's not good at it yet. Maybe he's filtering information to the police, an anonymous tipper. Maybe he tries to get in with some mob thugs with the idea to infiltrate the system. Little kid Bruce is just nothing, and I'm tired of him wasting minutes of this show. Why does Gordon keep reporting back to him like some kind of underling? It just doesn't work.

Don't worry kid, one day you'll be cool.

I do kind of like Edward Nygma as the CSI or whatever he is. He's odd, but in a kind of fun way, and knowing who he becomes later, I get a kick out of him. He doesn't ham it up too bad, he just does his thing and then is gone again doing whatever it is he does. I'd actually like to see a bit more of him, but what we're getting is enough.

So, I'm going to keep watching it for now, but I'm losing my patience with you, Gotham. Be better. We all want you to be better. You've got a built-in fan base, don't blow it.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, seems like a lot of your concerns echo some of my initial worries about this. I’ve not seen any of the show yet, but the whole mobster-flick thing somehow doesn’t appeal even though a pre-Bat Gotham definitely could have that feel. I think what I’m worried about most is cardboard characters I cannot be invested in, and villains not shaped by Batman. He tends to have a lot of impact on his adversaries, heh. Awesome review—I’ll be curious to see what you have to say as the show matures. I’m still on the fence, but I probably am leaning towards not watching at this point. Keep us posted!