Archive for March, 2014

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It has been reported that the pilot episode for Fox’s new procedural show Gotham, following the early career of police commissioner Jim Gordon (played by The OC‘s and Southland‘s Ben Mackenzie), has begun filming and is expected to be picked up for a Fall 2014 premier. It’s obviously too early to form any conclusion about the quality of the show but it’s (in my opinion at least) just one more reason why DC needs to stop pumping out whatever new disconnected property they come up with and formulate a new strategy for how to present their characters outside of the main comic book medium.

In case you missed it, a while back I wrote a blog about how DC needs to unite it’s current film continuity (currently made up of Man of Steel, 2016’s unofficially titled Batman Vs. Superman and the rumored Justice League) with it’s TV properties on The CW (Arrow and next fall’s The Flash). Officially there have been no talks between the TV and film producers about blending continuities but it could – in a perfect world – still happen. However, Gotham is likely to be it’s own entity as it will air on The CW’s rival network Fox. To my knowledge only Joss Whedon has been able to get two networks to play nice – when he got The WB and UPN (before merging to become The CW) to allow for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to crossover characters and storylines for each show’s mutual benefit. It seems doubtful that Gotham would act as any kind of predecessor to Arrow, which has introduced many a Batman villain in its own universe over the last two seasons. Which simply means that Gotham would be yet another self contained piece of DC entertainment floating about.

Is that a bad thing? Not really. Not so long as the concept works. After all, it wasn’t until Disney-owned Marvel Studios got together and said “Hey, we should put Robert Downey, Jr. at the end of The Incredible Hulk!” that comic book adaptations started to form a cohesive universe. Sure, Batman Forever mentioned Metropolis, Batman & Robin directly mentioned Superman and Superman Returns brought up Gotham but 2016 will be the first time any of their characters actually crossed paths on film. However, Disney raised the bar when they brought The Avengers to fruition, which has caused DC/Warner Bros. to get weak in the knees and try to pump out a Justice League movie. To do this effectively they need to stop crapping out self contained shit and actually make a cinematic universe. Hell…it should be really easy for them to do that as (unlike Disney) Warner Bros. owns ALL of the DC properties.

But why else is Gotham a bad idea? Look at it this way…one of the biggest criticisms of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is that it’s a “superhero-less superhero show.” Coming hot off the success of The Avengers, Marvel tried to branch off into TV with a show centered around it’s non-powered characters and it’s been met with mixed feelings. So why would DC try to use the popularity of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy to make a procedural cop show centered on a non-powered police officer? That’s like trying to come off of Man of Steel with a show about the early cub reporter days of Perry White. At the end of the day how many people are really going to care? They’re going to tune in to that show thinking “so when is Bruce Wayne going to become Batman?” Well guess what? He’s 14 on the show so the answer is: NOT FOR A LONG DAMN TIME!!!

There are other reasons why Gotham seems to be a futile effort. I think the biggest thing working against the show (to this point) is the plan to incorporate early versions of Batman villains – such as The Penguin, Joker, Riddler and Catwoman – roughly 10 years before Bruce ever dawns the cape and cowl. Many of Batman’s villains were created, at least in part, by the existence of Batman. I can maybe see The Penguin being an up-and-coming mob boss as he is supposed to be significantly older and well rooted in the Gotham social scene (kind of similar to The Kingpin from the Marvel universe)…and MAYBE an early appearance from The Joker in his original Red Hood persona could work but your average television viewer with little to no knowledge of the comics wouldn’t get that. So they would have to, in some way, make it a direct Joker reference and that simply doesn’t work out.

Having Jim Gordon track down cases relating to Batman villains in a Batman-less Batman show just isn’t going to sit well with audiences clamoring for more Batman. Maybe around season 3 or 4 you can introduce Henry Ducard as a guiding influence over a then 17 or 18 year old Bruce and the show could start to have more of a Batman presence…but you can’t really bank on the idea that a show “could” get better eventually to keep viewers. Just ask Agents of SHIELD.

My advice? Warner Bros. needs to get a better handle on how they present their characters in other media and Fox needs to accept that The X-Files ended 12 years ago and give up on the idea of having another successful genre series. They should just stick to their sports and “animation domination.”

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