“You’re overwhelmed, Freeze was underwhelmed. Why isn’t anyone ever just whelmed?”
– Robin, Young Justice S01E01: “Independence Day”
Well, Robin, colour me whelmed. Gotham, while thankfully not underwhelming, certainly was a very predictable experience going from one foreseeable beat to another as if in an attempt to deliberately play it safe. Though, admittedly, now isn’t exactly the easiest period to début a show based on a comic book—let alone one based on “the goddamn Batman.”
With Arrow pretty much setting the standard for comic books on television (more on that in an article to come) and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. having their big screen sugar daddies to fall back on if ever there was a lull in action, the audience are in a position that may have actually never happened before: we have the ability to choosewhat comic book shows we’d like to watch.
With only Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the ’90s and Smallville in the early ’00s pretty much representing their respective decades when it came to the comic book genre’s presence on television, comic book geeks have never really had a choice as to whether we could watch something else instead.
But this season, it’s different. Just on the front of DC Comics, we already have Arrow hitting its third season next month. And if that weren’t enough for The CW, they’ve got The Flash spinning-off of Arrow and hitting the ground running with a leaked pilot. (I know I could have avoided that pun, but I really just wanted to say it.) And on NBC we have Constantine, which has done a pretty good job in setting itself apart from the very different movie with Keanu Reeves.
With comic shows having such a great streak, it would seem that Batman, of all characters, would have a fantastic run on television having just come off an incredibly overrated and underwhelming trilogy of movies about a guy so boring, he’s bored with himself.
Well, my biggest gripe with Gotham is, why would anyone conceptualise a series that so pointedly deals with a pre-Batman Gotham, only to highlight a whole bunch of Batman related plot lines that only serve to outline a very large bat-shaped hole in the middle of this series?
Gotham is a city with rich history and interesting characters. Between a rising James Gordon, an already fallen Harvey Bullock, and the quickening social decay of the city after the Waynes’ death, the premise already held much potential without having to resort to random shove-ins of Batman-era trivia.
Add to that a pretty good cast who seem to be just going through the motions with any bit of dialogue they can throw out (“Well, aren’t you just a cool glass of milk…” Really?), I’m already looking forward to the hasty decision of shoving the show 10 years into the future in the second season just so they can bring back an angsty martial arts-savvy Bruce Wayne and give us ‘Batman Begins: The TV Show.”
So the question is, with so many options, do I wanna still watch Gotham? (After all, I no longer have to watch it just to get my live action comic book fix.)
I’d say… give it a shot. I doubt Gotham is ever going to reach the “oh my god, I can’t wait for next week?!” heights of Arrow, but I’m sure it isn’t going to sink to the mind-numbing pointlessness that was 75% of Smallville… well, not in the first season anyways.