Constantine and Gotham Season Reviews Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

On the other hand, Constantine seems downright sunny compared to Gotham. I did have my doubts when Fox announced it was creating a “Batman” series about Gotham before Batman. I had further doubts when we learned villains from Batman’s rogue gallery would be appearing in the series. How do you have the Penguin, Two Face, or the Joker without having a Batman? I was also put off by the fact that there was going to be a pre-teen Bruce Wayne, Catwoman and Poison Ivy. It was all shaping up to be another superhero-rom-com a la the CW. How was any of this going to be good?

gotham-ben-mckenzie-james-gordon

How long will this optimism last?

Any doubts I had regarding Gotham faded after the first couple of episodes. The first of my doubts that faded away was the actual storyline in Gotham. Bruno Heller and his crew have stuck to what made Batman work in the movies (Nolan and Burton, not Schumacher)- solid storytelling and solid acting. Actually,  there are two other stories going on in Gotham besides the obvious “Bruce Wayne will become Batman” storyline.

The first storyline, and the one later advertisements focused on, is  Gordon’s “origin story.” It came as a relief  that Gordon was not a rookie as some of the press releases made it seem, but was transferred from another department. It may not seem that big of an issue, but without prior police experience Gordon couldn’t have been a detective which would mean a lot of the story would be about him working his way up the ranks. That story may work in other places, but not in the story being developed in the series. An established Gordon can do and get away with a lot more than a rookie cop. I think as the series progresses we will start to see Gordon become harder and more jaded establishing a character that will one day become police commissioner. In one sense, Gotham is more of the story of Gordon’s transformation than his origin story. His story into the man who will be commissioner parallels the story of Gotham.

Gotham is also the story of how Gotham becomes such a hive of villainy and scum that there has to be a Batman. Due to the corruption on the police force and in  the mayor’s office crime has been able to operate at almost legitimate business levels. It’s not apparent yet, but we can assume the Waynes somehow kept organized crime under control. When they were murdered whatever control the Waynes had evaporated. We’ve seen in some subtle ways and some not so subtle ways how Gordon and other characters, usually the weekly “villains,” react against a city that no longer protects its citizens. Every episode that has aired so far has added another piece to the eventual birth of Batman.

The story is so well crafted I no longer mind that villains are being introduced way before there is a Batman. However, there haven’t been many “Batman” villains introduced in the series. Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin, is already playing a key role in the story. It’s just my thought, but I think he is doing a lot more to bring the “storm” to Gotham than preventing it. The world sees a crippled simpleton, but we have gotten enough  glimpses into his devious mind to see how Cobblepot may come out on top when the two mafia families go to war.  It’s cute that Edward Nygma is in the series as GCPD: CSI, but he’s not yet the Riddler. The series has also introduced Harvey Dent, but not Two Face. I don’t think there is a need to confuse the people they are with the criminals they will become.

Oswald Cobblepot

There’s something going on behind those beady little eyes.

So, really, even after the initial promises of Batman villains in the series, there is only one villain from Batman’s rogue gallery. Personally, I don’t mind the series not having familiar villains. It’s more difficult to explain away a Dr. Freeze, a Mad Hatter, or a Scarecrow in the series without a Batman. The creators are using the one established Batman villain in a very unique way. Introducing actual villains would waterdown what has already been done with the Cobblepot character. Perhaps this is why the character of Fish Mooney was created. Fish Mooney fits so well  into the Batman mythos and the rogue’s gallery I wouldn’t be surprised if DC Comics introduces the character in the comic book world.

Finally, the meeting between young Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle we all knew would happen was handled much better than I expected. Unlike a CW show, the interaction between the two characters was written and acted much like it would happen between two pre-teens in real life. When the two met in “Harvey Dent”  Bruce is so nervous around Selina he can’t  tell her that he would like to kiss her. Living on the streets has made Selina tougher and more mature than a teenage girl should be, but you can still see the vulnerable girl inside. In “Lovecraft” (The irony of episode’s title is not lost on us), the two characters develop a little closer bond with each other, but nothing that could be construed as a budding romance. I have no doubt that in the future the writers may create more of a relationship between Bruce and Selina, however, there should be no real issues if the writers handle it as well as they have handled the rest of the series.

 

A young Selina Kyle

How long did it take to cast a girl who could pass as a young Michelle Pfeiffer?

At its core, Gotham is a police procedural. Every week Gordon and Bullock solve a crime within the hour and the bigger story gets a little more developed. The only difference between Gotham and other police procedurals is the criminals are little more colorful. Where else are you going to see a vigilante strapping hot air balloons to their  victims with the intent the victims will fall thousands of feet to their deaths?  In those other police procedurals the criminal usually breaks down and confesses to the crime of the week over the objections of a lawyer. Most criminals in Gotham don’t make it to the interrogation room.

Gotham‘s over all dark tones (kudos to the cinematographer) harkens back to Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. This was apparent from the very first trailers Fox released for the series. What was also apparent was that Fox was clearly aiming at viewers who like the Batman comics and the Nolan series. Viewers may have been drawn to Gotham because of The Dark Knight quality trailer, but the series stands on its own merits. Gotham is easily one of the best shows on television. A+

 

 

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