Why I couldn’t watch Fox’s Gotham
I know I’m probably the minority here but I can’t watch Gotham on Fox. Sorry Batman fans, I tried. I really wanted to like the show. After the success of shows like Smallville, Arrow, and The Flash, nothing would make me happier than seeing a small screen version of Bruce Wayne. After all, superheroes have replaced the action hero and there’s no one bigger than Batman. Then the show happened.
I tried to go into in with an open mind and I have to give credit where it is due. Aside from early on missing out on the spectacle that is the city of Gotham, there were little complaints. The cast of the show does exceptionally for the characters they’re portraying. What through me off is the complete lack of regard for hardcore fans creating a show that spoon fed the masses. While ratings ultimately determine the success of a show, there is a right and a wrong way to go about bringing your audience along. The unfortunate truth is, a minor tweak in writing could’ve saved the show for me.
A small example:
My biggest red flag with Gotham was the writers throwing in the audiences face their characters. It was almost as if the writers were inches from you saying “See, look! This is who we’re portraying!” and skipped over the journey. Three episodes in I had stomached enough. Take the first episode where Fish Mooney(awful name) is speaking to a character who the viewer has zero confirmation of identity. She says to him “Prove it to me my little penguin.”[Rick]
Later in the same episode, Jim Gordon takes who we now know to be the Penguin out to a pier in an attempt to save him. Shoots his pistol and says “Don’t ever come back to Gotham.” and pushes him into the water. The next episode after being picked up on the side of the road, a passenger in the car says to him “has anyone told you, you walk like a penguin?”. To me, this is the worst transition of a character reveal portrayed on tv. The audience had an idea but it wasn’t confirmed until this string of dialogue.
Imagine the same scenes where Fish Mooney never revealed the Penguin. If the show continues the same path, when written correctly, doesn’t seem so insistent. If Gordon leads him to the peer and repeats the line, only as “Don’t ever come back to Gotham, Mr. Cobblepot!” The reveal is still the same, but it’s a subtle nod to long time fans. From there, the next episode’s line “has anyone ever told you, you walk like a penguin?” makes the remainder of viewers go “oooooh, so that’s the Penguin!” bringing them along for the ride.
Poor execution by the writers is what ruined my interest of every returning to Gotham. You can add on the already existing alteration of characters, ages, and origins. How did we make it to season three? At one point, the writers actually had Selina Kyle batting at jewelry as if she were an actual cat, instead of developing her into a “cat burglar”, hence the name Catwoman. Again, “See who we’re portraying!”
Gotham is not doomed due to the lack of effort by the cast but by the writers themselves. The characters are portrayed wonderfully. Everything I hear is how the show has gotten so much better. However, in the world of comic book shows, they’re a dime a dozen these days. Adding another that strays too far from the source material, no matter how well written, will always be a turnoff. Other shows have strayed slightly from the books but remained on par. If you’re going to create the most beloved heroes on the small screen, you have to stay true to what made people love them. Gotham does a great job of storytelling, but it’s just too far from the Bruce Wayne stories I’ve read. They may be similar, but this version seems a multiverse or two away.