I don’t know about you, but this blog has started feel a little Marvel-heavy to me lately. Granted, Marvel has been churning stuff out like crazy and I do like most everything Stan Lee puts his name on, but I’ve decided to use the upcoming five-week hiatus (is this a mid-spring finale?!) of FOX’s Gotham as a way to give DC Comics a little love too!
As a life-long Batman fan, Gotham was the television show I was looking forward to the most this fall. The show isn’t about Batman per se, but I’m also a sucker for prequels/origin stories, which the series hinted at in spades before it premiered in September. And on that front at least, it has delivered. In just 18 episodes, we’ve been introduced to younger versions of Catwoman, the Joker, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, the Scarecrow, and Two Face, just to name a few classic Batman villains. Of course we also have a prepubescent Bruce Wayne and a rookie detective version of Jim Gordon.
But while I have enjoyed seeing all of these different versions of familiar characters – and some not so familiar – I’ve also felt a bit like the show’s creators are trying to pack as many people as possible into the first season and hoping that we don’t notice there isn’t much of a plot. Okay, okay, maybe that’s a little unfair – there is a plot, but it has been uneven.
Ostensibly, the show focuses on Gordon and his quest to bring justice to Gotham’s victims, primarily the murdered Waynes. Yet after the first few episodes, that overarching storyline seems to have disappeared. Instead, there are violent gang rivalries, increasingly disturbing examples of human depravity, and a sub-plot that makes Gordon’s ex-fiancée a bisexual drug user. Though I completely understand the need to have Gordon solve different cases in each new episode, I think the show would hang together better if it somehow connected back to his overall mission – in a vein similar to the first (and most excellent) season of Veronica Mars.
Also, producer Bruno Heller’s Gotham is the darkest version of the famed city that I’ve ever seen. To be sure, Gotham has always been a bit bleak and seething with villainy, but ever since Christopher Nolan’s popular trilogy, its depiction has gotten even grittier. I guess there’s nothing entirely wrong with that, but I can’t help wishing for some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.
Gotham has four more episodes in this first season, and has already been renewed for a second run, so hopefully it can regroup and get back to what made it so good in the beginning – unique characters that connect us to a familiar world and a storyline that illustrates how Gordon becomes commissioner and Bruce turns into the caped crusader.