Gotham. A dark gritty series following the struggle of Detective Gordon–who will one day become Commissioner Gordon to DC’S Batman–against the dark underbelly of the city. A prequel for the Batman universe known and loved by so many.
I wasn’t sure about the idea of Gotham. I like Batman. He’s one of the few superheroes I grew up with–the 60s TV series and the 80s Tim Burton movies. I loved the lurid sinister villains. There was something cartoonish–clownish about them that I found creepy. Crime is frightening enough an event without the perpetrator having an incongruously painted face or panto outfit. And as much as I loved the universe the idea of Gotham did not appeal to me.
Prequels are tricky. Origin stories can often be an intriguing side journey in a series. But when a film or series decides to root it’s existence in what came before I find that the draw diminishes. After all, the series seems set to follow the rise of the Batman villains–yet surely we know that they are going to be unchallenged until Bruce Wayne grows up in 15-20 years, and that ultimately Gordon is going to fail to protect Gotham. That’s a bleak prospect. I then thought, perhaps they won’t focus on the established villains. That it would be just set in that universe. That could be doable, and watchable.
I hate being critical of things–especially when I know the time and effort involved in creating, but I only made it through the first episode. So, you could easily write this review off as a harsh dismissive judgement. It probably is, but watching Gordon tour Gotham was a little bit like a Gotham sites tour–we got the Wayne murders again (I’m really tired of seeing the origin moment for Batman) followed by a curious crossing of paths or appearances from Riddler, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Catwoman and Joker and probably others I don’t know of. Wow, Gotham is a small world.
Teasing all these and focusing on Penguin, it seemed like this show would be about the development of the villains after all. Not really something I wanted to watch, knowing that Gordon could do little to lessen their impact until Batman enters the night.
Ben McKenzie was good as Gordon, and Sean Pertwee promised to be a good Alfred–although how much scope there would’ve been for that given the premise and the young age of Bruce I don’t know. It looked good, and I’m sure production values would’ve done it justice but that’s all I can say. It’s actually more of a geek low in hindsight–I’ve really enjoyed ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’, especially the crossovers which had expanded and enriched both worlds, and it would’ve been great to have a third series to sweeten the mix.
What Gotham has highlighted is that it’s time for a ‘Batman’ TV series–one that is a compromise between the camp fun of the 60s show and the dark but soulless Christopher Nolan movies. I want that instead of Gotham. Maybe Gotham could get it’s origin stories out of the way and then fast forward and bring on the caped crusader.
Have I been too harsh? I’ve done it before with ‘Arrow’ and regretted it. Can you give me a good reason to try Gotham again?