GOTHAM Behind-the-Scenes Video Raises More Questions

HAS WARNERS PUT TOGETHER THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO TELL THIS STORY?

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The Gotham extended trailer has 7.3 million views and counting. But the “First Look” video released since then has only been seen 112,000 times. Which is interesting to me, because this second video might have a lot more clues to what we can expect from Gotham this fall.

Hey, I get it: who enjoys boring talking-heads featurettes from non-actors, right? Most EPK (Electronic Press Kit) material really does suck, because it’s created by soulless Hollywood marketing weasels. But if we want more info about Gotham, we’ve gotta take what we can get. So let’s dig in:

I’m very curious to see how the showrunners can make Gotham interesting. The time period of the show seems to be the second-least interesting period for Bruce Wayne: the time between his parents’ murders and his years as a young adult training to become Batman. (The least interesting being his childhood before his parents’ deaths.)

The decision to make this era the exact same time for Gotham to attract all of the people who will become Batman’s greatest villains and allies could work. Usually on film, what passes for a super-villain’s origin is “something bad happens” and BOOM, instant super-villain. Watching each character’s slow descent into evil and/or insanity could make for some compelling stories, as long as the filmmakers take the time to make viewers care about the characters and don’t blink when certain hardcore fans in the audience demand to see full-on super-villains each week. I’d be fine with never even seeing the Joker’s face for at least a couple of seasons.

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Lil’ Bruce Wayne

Since we all know Bruce’s parents have to die, I’m fine with them getting offed in the first episode. But it would be really cool if we see flashbacks to when they were alive, to see how they influenced young Bruce before he lost them. That would be much more interesting than seeing Detective Gordon be Bruce’s big brother week after week: while Jim Gordon is one of the few people that Bruce learns to trust, having him be too big an influence or father-figure could raise the question of why Bruce still decides to do the crazy thing and dress up as a bat to fight crime. I don’t know if I want to see Bruce and Gordon “become friends”: unless the show can develop a really good reason for that to happen before Bruce’s inevitable disappearance into training and his reemergence as “playboy millionaire by day” Bruce Wayne years later.

I don’t care for the idea of making Thomas and Martha’s deaths be “the metaphorical breaking point” for Gotham City’s descent. Their deaths represent a symptom of Gotham’s corruption, not its focal point: I hope this is just one actor saying what he thinks people want to hear, instead of what actually happens in the series. Otherwise, this makes the world of Gotham way too small already, and makes Bruce way too important to everyone – instead of being the lonely boy who, against all odds (and reason), finds a way to fight back against the corrupt city that took away his mother and father. Game of Thrones has proven that long-form serialized television can tell a lot of stories simultaneously, while having them only rarely intersect. If we see every major character involved in each other’s lives all the time, the believability will be sucked right out of this show.

I am looking forward to seeing Donal Logue as Detective Bullock. Logue did fantastic work on Copper as a corrupt police general, and I know he’ll be able to elevate Harvey Bullock to be more than a one-note character. I’m less familiar with the other cast members, but everyone looks good so far, with the possible exception of Jada Pinkett Smith, who seems unsure how to play a menacing mob boss in what little we’ve been given so far. (And “Fish Mooney” sounds like a name that was really over-thought in a board-room meeting. Bleah.)

I don’t know anything about writer/executive producer Bruno Heller. He worked on failed TV pilots several years ago for The Huntress and The Bionic Woman, so he at least seems interested in this type of material. But his success with so-so shows like Rome and The Mentalist doesn’t fill me with confidence that he was chosen to work on Gotham for any reason besides he was available.

Lil' Catgirl, I mean Catwoman

Lil’ Catgirl, I mean Catwoman

And when he says, “This isn’t a comic-book world; this is a real world, heightened. It’s a mythic world; it’s a dramatic world full of adventure and color and sex and violence and fun,” it’s obvious that he doesn’t know a damn thing about comic books. Because HE JUST DESCRIBED THEM, and insulted a good chunk of Gotham‘s potential audience in the process.

(NOTE TO WARNER BROS.: Stop pretending that the public still looks at comic books the way they did in 1966, mmm-kay? Thanks.)

And I’m even more leery about director/executive producer Danny Cannon. After all, he directed one of the most reviled comic-book movie adaptations of all time (1995’s Judge Dredd) and one of the lamest big-budget horror films of all time (1998’s I Still Know What You Did Last Summer). His executive-producer role on Nikita and the various C.S.I. shows suggests that he could be good at putting together a decent show, but again I don’t know why he was chosen to helm Gotham besides his availability.

Warner Bros. has a long history of trouble putting together the right teams to make their comics properties translate to film (other than lucking out with Christopher Nolan). Until I see someone of the caliber of, say, Joss and Jed Whedon being involved, I’ll be waiting for Gotham with more patience than excitement.

The bottom line, for me, is that I want to see Gotham do something different. Showing a bunch of famous characters, before they became special, isn’t nearly enough (see: the Star Wars prequels). But if we can be given a reason to care about how they got from Point A to Point B, that could be some really cool television. We’ll see in a few months if Gotham pulls it off.

Author: Mike Hansen



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