Random Thoughts: “Gotham”

27Sep14

Believe it or not, I watched the pilot for “Gotham.” Here are some feelings and thoughts that I came up with and then typed:

1.) Good start, then less good, and then both bad and good. But not “so bad it’s good.” Just flip flopping. I thought they handled the Wayne m-rder really well, and that kid’s scream alone in the alley was awesome. I liked the introduction of Bullock and I liked the early bits of showing Jim Gordon as both composed and badass. All of this happened in the first 10 minutes. From there, then we get the “story” which isn’t much of a story. I am willing to give this show the benefit of the doubt and assume that the pilot has a TON of heavy lifting to do early on, so there’s lots of set-up to handle. They did it in a largely entertaining way, it’s just they were doing it better at the beginning before they started in with the whole “Remember these past events” type scenes.

2.) I was prepared for the character foreshadowing, but the internet is right to scoff at the level of heavy-handedness. I joked with my wife that at this rate, when Bruce finally does become Batman in 20 years, there would have to be a scene where Gordon or Bullock says, “Man, remember that dude who was always talking in riddles? And then he became the Riddler? He’s been doing that for years and we just watched it happen!” That might be fine for one character, but there are at least three in this pilot alone (Penguin, Catwoman and Riddler). That’s a lot of one-notedness. And on that one-note…

3.) This show’s subtitle could easily be “And that’s how that happened.” It seems like it’s a typical prequel in that we’re watching it because we know who these characters will become, but it makes all of the labored choices, well, labored. “Gotham” is a show that feels it needs to explain why Oswald Cobblepot waddles, so they have him get clubbed by a baseball bat. Again, I’m willing to watch another episode to see if this show can relax and just tell some original stories instead of fixating on such minutiae as “And that’s how the Mad Hatter got his hat.”

4.)  Jim Gordon has an amazing apartment. I mean, it’s incredible. Remember in the 1989 movie, when Vicki Vale – a news photographer from out of town – secured an ENORMOUS apartment in a couple days? The Gordon apartment makes the Vale place look like a dumpster. Huge windows. Bed in the middle of the space. Gorgeous fireplace. When we eventually have that scene in Wayne Manner, I thought, “They should’ve met at Gordon’s place so Bruce Wayne could finally taste the sweet life.” Oh, but Gordon’s fiancée is an art dealer. That makes it all work. And on that note….

5.) Frank Miller’s biggest error (of his hey day) was naming Mrs. Gordon “Barbara” in “Batman: Year One.” It’s so confusing. And there’s a million names. Couldn’t you have picked one that wasn’t Batgirl’s name? I’m not saying he had to set the stage for Batgirl, but it makes everything unnecessarily confusing. I think post “Year One,” it goes that James and Barbara eventually took in James’ niece, who was also named Barbara. Seriously? For a comic universe with names like Carmine Falcone and Selina Kyle, you can’t come up with another name for Gordon’s wife? Maybe Miller was confused, or maybe it’s such choices that make him an artist, but either way it results in confusion.

6.) The Weirdness of Jada. I’ve convinced myself that they named her character “Fish” so the eventually-a-rival Penguin can make some mention of how penguins eat fish (the show is just that clever AND not clever). I’m also convinced that they did a kind of sideways callback to the Adam West series by making Jada perform like Eartha Kitt. Because that’s what African-American women do in Batman-related TV shows.

7.) One-Offs. This is my long-standing beef with current TV culture, but I’m hopeful that this show can find lots of room for one-off episodes where the unlikely partners Bullock and Gordon just solve some crimes. It’s entirely possible and even probably that this will not be the case. They’re probably going to go after the incredibly complicated and legendary events which lead to even BIGGER legendary events. It’s probably going to follow the style of the current “Hobbit” movies as opposed to the original book version, which is a shame. Not only can the larger, EVERYTHING IS SUPER IMPORTANT style be limiting, it can be exhausting. Whereas the smaller stories with these important characters can be simply illuminating, and sometimes that’s enough. This is a show telling stories we never asked for, so I don’t believe they owe us explanations for every element of the eventual legend.

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