Monday, 27 October 2014


Gotham leads the way in DC Comics big push into live-action TV, following the solid success of Arrow leading to a spinoff for The Flash and to Hellblazer Constantine getting a show as well. Unlike the other three its on primetime on a free channel. And... it’s a mess.

It’s mostly a police procedural about crimes slightly too weird even for CSI Miami. And partially a somewhat OTT gangster saga. And a bit of a “hey look, a thing from Batman!” show.

Sometimes the former works reasonably well. The child-snatchers in episode two were pretty creepy. And then sometimes it does Balloonman. Not sure it was a good call to have the first major vigilante to emerge after the Wayne murders, in the third episode of the show, be so... hilarious.

The overall effect is a bit like a splicing of Batman Begins with Batman Returns, where the grim down-to-earth stuff is suddenly interrupted by ninjas and circuses. It reasonably reflects what Gotham is like in the comics, but the shifts seem less jarring there.

The design work to make it look like 70s-80s hellhole New York never cleaned up is great (and could provide fodder for loads of World Of Darkness visuals).

And it’s making its own continuity, separate from (a) the other DC shows and (b) the DC movies. So the built-in possibilities for crossovers have been deliberately cut. (And apparently Arrow and The Flash will be separate to the movies as well, with a movie version of The Flash announced several years in advance complete with casting a week after the first episode came on TV, which is... not the direction I would have gone.)

Ultimately, Gotham is a backdrop for Batman. Does the city need him or not?


  1. Did I lose my first attempt at a comment or is it in the aether...? I'll never know. Try again... I feel the need to defend the Gotham. It seems to be getting a bit of a bashing with people I know but I've really liked it.

    I can't deny that the crazy villains do seem at odds with the background but I think I've just become used to that with the onscreen Batman we've been seeing - it hasn't stuck in my head so much. Instead I've seen things in Gotham that I'm just not getting from other shows on at the moment: personal decisions and a believable threat level.

    Perverse as it may seem to read it, I'm finding the stories in Gotham much more down to Earth than those of its contemporaries - yes, despite the crazy villains and potential balloonman jokes. I'm enjoying seeing Gordon fight to stay honest and Penguin stuggle for respect and power. Both are more engaging for me than the search for the maguffin or science that will save us all this week.

    The personal level to the stories also gives me a threat level I find it easier to connect with, easier than 'we have to save the world' again. Gordon is defending his honour and his marriage. Penguin is carving out a career and building social power. The threats against them are more interesting to me because I can understand them in terms of their ambition, pride and such.

    Nevertheless, I will acknowledge I might be biased, despite that being in such a way that could get me thrown off this page: I struggle with Whedon humour. More than that I'm finding Arrow and SHIELD annoying, SHIELD even arrogant at times. That must be a personal reaction but I've yet to feel these things with Constantine or Gotham.

    1. Why I oughtta...

      Yeah, fair enough. I'm finding Gordon pretty bland (especially standing next to Bullock) but Pengu-- I mean Oswald is always entertaining. I think there's a balance of Weird Level and tone, and if they find it that'll be nice. If not, I have a perfectly decent Batman show in Person Of Interest.