Sunday, April 5, 2015
Why "Gotham" Sucks So Hard
Anyone here watch "Gotham"? Have any of you ever watched it? Or have some of you checked it out and eventually gave up? Or, if you're like me, you're sticking it out until the season concludes at least...not because I'm a masochist, but because part of me enjoys live-action train wrecks and when I check a show out I usually give it a full season before I decide to totally say fuck it.
In the case of "Gotham", I've come so close to prematurely pulling out (that wasn't written like that on purpose I swear) that I often wonder why I still continue to sit through it. I mean I've seen some shitty comic-based TV shows before, but "Gotham" may be the worst of the bunch. It makes "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." look like fucking "Casablanca", which in itself should tell you everything you need to know about "Gotham" if you've never seen it and have been the least bit curious about it.
For me, the biggest flaw of the show isn't necessarily its whole "Batman without Batman" style, it's the whole idea that Batman's whole rogues gallery was already at large way before Batman even showed up. That, and some flat out terrible writing that seems to cater more towards viewers that have little to no knowledge of anything Batman-related. We're 18 episodes in of the show's first season, and so far to some degree or another, we've met future Batman villains Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, Joker (don't get me started on that episode), Scarecrow, Hush, Poison Ivy, Black Mask, Mr. Zsasz, Dollmaker, and Two-Face among others. Not to mention that we've had mention of the Venom juice that will one day help Bane become a roided up powerhouse, the reclassification of Dr. Leslie Tompkins from trusted Wayne ally to one-dimensional love interest to Jim Gordon, a pointless appearance from the future parents of Dick Grayson, and character motivations that are so paper-thin that you end up becoming left to wonder if Batman really could save this city from itself in the future.
But the one thing that irks me about "Gotham" the most, the one single thing that really ruins this whole shitfest excuse of a TV show for me personally is something that some if not most of you will probably find as being the least consequential: making the murder of the Wayne family part of some corporate conspiracy. Now I saw this "plot twist" coming a mile away since the pilot episode, and now that it's been confirmed that Gotham City is so fucking dirty that a mega-conglomerate company's board of directors would conspire to kill its CEO and wife, it makes my head want to explode.
Why you ask? Because taking the murder of the Wayne's and changing it from a tragic event into something that's part of a conspiracy ruins the whole aspect of Batman in itself. The randomness of what happens to Bruce's parents is the true tragedy because it is directly responsible for him becoming Batman when he grows up. The random senselessness of it all puts Bruce on a mission that is never-ending: fighting crime. The same thing applies to The Punisher as well. Any media where Frank Castle's family is killed by anything other than a random event is the absolute wrong thing to do. When you take away the randomness of the act that sets these characters into becoming what they are, you take away the true tragedy of the event, and what happens after when they dedicate the rest of their lives to being violent vigilantes.
In that aspect alone, "Gotham" is a failure.
In other aspects, the show is still a failure. Do we need to see a young Riddler that somehow works for the police and is two steps away from being a date-rapist? Do we need to see a young Penguin that acts more like the fucking Joker than any of us could possibly imagine Penguin to be? In all honesty are there any characters on this show we give a shit about? Harvey Bullock is the morally flexible dirty cop that did a complete 180 from wanting to kill Gordon to wanting to help him with no explanation ever given. Gordon himself is a total asshole that we already know will never make a difference on his own, because the police department doesn't get cleaned up (nor does the city) until Batman begins appearing, so we have no reason to root for him at all. Young Bruce is annoying as hell, young Catwoman is too but at least her stories tend to be somewhat interesting, while beleaguered butler Alfred is probably the only character on the show I give two shits about. The whole mob angles with Fish Mooney, Carmine Falcone, and Sal Maroni is a bore...although for no reason we got to see Jeffrey "Re-Animator" Combs get turned into a woman. Yes, you read that sentence right.
I remember reading that there was a pitch about a "Batman without Batman"-type show revolving around Gordon and other GCPD cops...only this would take place while Batman is in his prime. We'd follow various cops living in this world as they deal with street-level crime that Batman can't always be around to stop, sort of like the "Gotham Central" comic series that was pretty good from what I recall. Seeing this in TV form would have at least been much more interesting than anything "Gotham" has had to offer thus far, that's for damn sure. But alas, this is what we got instead, and it looks like Fox is going to keep pimping this show for quite some time.
I know I've been doing nothing but shitting all over "Gotham" throughout this whole thing, but there is maybe one thing that can be done to save this from being a pointless cavalcade of colon-cleansed fecal matter: writing baby Bruce out of the show.
Just think about it: Bruce decides it's best for him to leave Gotham City for a long while, and he departs and we don't see him for some time. The whole sub-plot with his family's company is left in the rear-view mirror, and Gordon, Bullock, etc. are left to contend with day-to-day life in the crime infested world of Gotham City. Maybe time flies in a season or two and they jump ahead a few years. Then when maybe they get ready to wrap the show up, Bruce comes back home all grown up and educated in what makes criminals a superstitious and cowardly lot. Gordon comes to the conclusion that no matter what he does to try to make the city and the police department a better place, he's just one man in a sea of corruption and he can't do it all alone anymore. Bruce sits in his father's study at night pondering his next move and how to strike fear into the heart of the criminal underworld...when a bat comes crashing through the glass window into his face.
"Yes father, I shall become a bat..."
End of show. It would be a perfect conclusion.
In one paragraph I just put more thought into the series as a whole than a whole team of writers has in one season. You're welcome Fox. I'm available for script work whenever you need me.