Gotham: Episode One

Gotham

Spoiler alert. If you haven’t watched the first episode of the new Gotham TV series yet (why not? Aren’t you allowed to stay up that late?), I’m probably going to mention things which might detract from your enjoyment. But hey, if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably don’t care anyway.

Cutting to the bottom line rather quickly: It was worth a watch. I can’t say I’m on tenderhooks waiting for the next episode to drop, but I will be watching for the foreseeable future.

gotham-poster-james-gordonI was hoping the series would be more Jim Gordon’s police department and less cash-in on Christopher Nolan’s movies. On that count I was disappointed. Hey this is Gotham, there is plenty of crazy shit happening. Why so dependent on the characters that everyone already knows about? How about adding to the stories rather than depending on them?

It did seem that the entire episode depended on your understanding of everything Batman and if you didn’t know the characters and stories you probably weren’t going to watching anyway. It doesn’t look like the program is attempting to attract a new audience just trying to keep the audience that will tune if you just repeat clips of the Nolan movies.

Unlike some of the other superhero TV shows (I’m looking at you Arrow and Agents of Shield) this one depends on your knowledge of the stories rather than introducing you to a new world of characters (sorry Green Arrow, I mean Arrow you were a third string superhero—pun intended). This seemed like a bit of shame. Gordon is a great character who could carry the show on his own and Benjamin McKenzie did a good job of being a young Gordon. I wonder when he is going to start growing the mustache? (not very O.C.)

There was a good deal of liberal management of the Batman mythology. A young catwoman sees the murder of Thomas and Martha? The Riddler is working for the Police? The Penguin is a sniveling mob underling? Bullock is a crooked cop? I hated this one. Bullock is great. And then was Alfred. Sean Pertwee is great. The accent, not so much. Can Alfred be a bad ass and still maintain a gentility. You bet he can.

If there is one thing I’d change it would be Alfred’s accent. I’m thinking the first episode of Burn Notice where Gabrielle Anwar tried to play Fiona as Irish and it did not work. So she stopped. Who said we can’t change?

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55 thoughts on “Gotham: Episode One

      1. I just realised I somehow missed your question — make her read what? I don’t usually make her read anything — I nagged a bit to make her read “A Song of Ice and Fire” once, that’s about it, and then she kindly stuck with it past the first book even though she wasn’t head over heels with it just ’cause she knew I was happy she read it — but I’m unsure what you’re referring to here?

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      2. It was more to do with the experience of watching TV being similar to sitting together reading. It can feel like you are watching different shows. It has been said before but it is the movie date scenario. If you are trying to get to know someone, why invite them to sit quietly in the dark for two hours?

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      3. Oh, I agree a movie date is a dreadful way to get to know someone, but we’ve been together for well over eight years, during which time we’ve either lived together or chatted for hours daily almost without exception — I think we know each other already. Also, watching a TV show (or a film) together provides a common frame of reference and subject for conversation in the days that follows, whereas reading a book first can’t be discussed because only one has read it, and then by the time the other has read it as well, has faded from memory of the first one who did. It’s still nice, of course, but it feels less like a together-activity and more like a solo activity we’ve just both happened to have independently done.

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      4. Congratulations, eight years is a considerable achievement. It is important to have common frames of reference to facilitate conversation.
        I think reading is an important part of our lives that cannot be overlooked not only on an immediate sense. There are books I would not dream of reading that have important ideas that I can only access if discussed. The time invested in reading a novel requires a greater commitment that can reap greater rewards that TV shows.
        Then again. there is more to a relationship than reading and watching TV.

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      5. Not sure I agree a novel is necessarily a greater commitment than a good TV series — it usually takes me a lot less time to read a good novel than watch all of “The Wire” — but I love books, so I think I’m all on board on your general points. 🙂

        Thanks for the compliment, by the way. Though the eight years flew by way too fast, though, so it doesn’t feel like a great achivement in that sense. Tempus fugit when you’re happy.

        I think a lot of “Smallville”‘s hoop-related problems were rooted in being caught between the (stupid, but considering the show title, fairly understandable — or it was until they moved the show to Metropolis in every way anyway) maxim of never going full-fledged Superman and the problem of continuing on for a lot longer than anyone would have dreamed during the first couple of seasons. That’s my concern for “Gotham” — they have a set end game they can tweak but not change, and if they keep introducing the pieces needed for that end game years and years before they are needed (like the Riddler and Harvey Dent, and most especially the Joker), their plot-locomotive is going to end up running out of railway, and they’ll need to start Lex-esque bouts of re-treading the same plot points over and over.

        I’m also very skeptical of getting to know too much about the Joker’s past in the first place. I’m fine getting to meet him as a teenager, but not if we also get to know who his parents were and where he came from. You can move the mystery backwards in time, but you can’t REmove it. But as I said, this feels like a red herring — or at least some kind of elaborate sleight of hand. I’ll be very disappointed if the “Jeremy” character actually ends up being a straightforward A-to-B this-will-be-our-Joker. But if he SEEMS like he will, and then in season four kidnaps a random kid, who gets some kind of Stockholm syndrome and mimicks and eventually exceeds his mentor — any kind of thing like that, and I’m ok with it. Or if they introduced a perfectly normal guy and did not hint he’d be the Joker at all for years and years, only to have him suddenly lose it in season ten or whatever. But if he’s an almost-fully-formed-Joker in season 1, that’s stupid, and they’ll run out of railway very fast. :\

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      6. Au contraire my friend, a book is a commitment that requires time and effort. You have to actually decide to exert the necessary effort to sit and read a book. While a good book may feel like no effort at all, those are not always the best books for us. A TV show requires some sense of commitment, but is much more of a passive action that calls to you at a specific time on a specific day or sits in your list of recorded shows reminding you that you have an ever decreasing amount of space to record more shows.

        On other matters I agree. Fruere hora for each moment.

        The biggest problem with Smallville, as you suggest, was its success which meant it lasted too long. Given Gotham does not have issues regarding the amount of its viewing audience, I would hope the producers are better prepared for success. The tweaking of characters will be key. They can introduce them, allude to them, give us background on them but they need to exercise caution with regards to how far they take them. As we have previously discussed, if they can think outside the established stories, they should be able to keep that plot-locomotive running on track.

        As for Joker, I like the multiple stories he provides in Dark Knight. If they give us the actual story they do not add to the Joker, they detract from the character. And that should be the key phrase in this whole show: add to the characters, do not detract.

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      7. I think we disagree here, then. Just as you say there are books which you can read in a breeze, there are certainly many TV series that take a lot of attention and commitment to get the most out of them. Not the majority, of course, but then neither is that the case with novels.

        Though everything else being equal, of course television is a more passive experience. To me it’s a fluid scale, though, not a categorical truth. If you pick a random book and a random TV series, sure, the book might demand more of the reader than the show of the watcher, but I’d be hard pressed to say watching — properly watching, trying to understand and pick up on the layers of text and subtext, the intricacies of characters and dialogue, etc., etc. — “Deadwood”, “The Wire” or “Hannibal” isn’t much more demanding than reading a traditionally though-provoking but otherwise straightforward novel like, say, “Animal Farm”.

        As for the appointment television you sketch, to me it’s all recorded and brought from a list at my convenience, which is exactly how my literature habits are as well. I watch lighter shows with supper, I watch heavier, demanding shows early in the day, and I watch comedies in the evening. In the same way, spend a month reading something demanding and heavy, and then either a week reaing something easy and fun or a couple of days reading two or three graphic novels, before I start another lined up heavier or longer book. It’s all going off of my list, to “make space” for the next thing. It’s planned out months and often years in advance, allowing for spur-of-the-moment changes, sure, but by and large sticking to a set schedule. There’s no real difference between that and how I treat or experience TV shows, excepting only that it doesn’t allow for doing it together with anyone.

        We’re exactly of a mind regarding Gotham, and especially the Joker. But if this week’s episode is to be taken at face value (which I hope it isn’t), then I’m afraid they’ve already started detracing.

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      8. I am happy to disagree on the matter. Attention and commitment with regards a TV show is different from attention and commitment with regards a novel. We are infinitely more likely to just stop watching whereas we expect a sense of difficulty with a novel.

        Your TV watching habits reflect an interesting insight into your day, but I don’t think they are necessarily a reflection of the average viewer and you are linking TV watching to, in some cases a secondary role. Reading a novel can be taken at your convenience, but is across the board a much more challenging exercise. Which is not to depreciate the TV watching experience. It is more passive, as you note, it is also a completely different experience with different expectations and requirements.

        From the perspective of the casual viewer (as opposed to people who spent time and effort writing about and discussing TV show—I mean who does that?) “picking up on the layers of text and subtext, the intricacies of characters and dialogue” is not usual and often leads to cancellation, like ‘Deadwood.’ And as for Animal Farm as a straightforward novel, did you just watch the movie? Which I think brings us to that time honoured question and an effective shift of focus: When is the movie ever better than the novel?

        Now, back to that fluid scale of ‘everything will be ok with Gotham’ and ‘Oh my God what have they done,’ have faith. There is a little hope and a couple of days before we can consign the show to the ‘I had such high hopes and you have disappointed me.’ The worst that could happen is full on Joker make-up as a regular cast member. Otherwise it will feel like they have over-stepped and I might just try and forget it ever happened. If it all just gets too much I might just buy that Adam West boxeset.

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      9. I think I see the problem now — you’re talking about some imaginary random person’s experience and expectations to books vs. television, whereas I’m talking about what someone who wishes to get the most out of something. I suppose you’re right most people would have higher expectations (and thus tolerance) towards what they read than what they watch, but honestly, this goes both ways. I certainly know people who watch lots of rather heavy television but would only ever read the easiest and least demanding books.

        I have read “Animal Farm”, but I never saw any adaptations, I’m afraid, so I cannot join in there. As for movie’s being better than the novel, I think a better question is, can an adaptation ever be better than an original? There are certainly novels where the movie came first. Not to mention movies AND novels where something else came first, like a play or a myth. And the answer is probably “yes, but very rarely”, and it would depend on one’s definitions of and demands to quality.

        Your two extremes on Gotham are amusingly put, and I think you’re right. Though no matter how bad it gets, I’ll never buy the Adam West box set — no judgment on those who likes it, I definitely understand the appeal in a distanced, pseudo-objective sort of way, but camp isn’t quite my thing.

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      10. Neither imaginary nor random. Anyone who puts in the effort to read a book is inherently seeking something beyond a distraction while they eat dinner. Watching heavy TV still does not compare to reading. Have you ever considered the centuries of learning behind students of literature as opposed to film students? The objectives are clearly different but there is little academic comparison. Teachers throw on a movie as a distraction, otherwise you’ve got to go to a book. As you suggest in the movie vs book scenario, the book is always the source.

        I suppose if the camp is too much there is always the Animated Adventures. Haven’t we already established their worth?

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      11. I’m sorry, but I think your statements seem a bit like media snobbery. The quality and depth of the story is what matters to me, not whether it happens to be written or filmed. Your arguments are about how teachers and students treat the mediums, not about anything being inherently different in the mediums themselves. Of course a medium which is older gets more attention and dignity ascribed to it than one which is younger, that’s just how society (and academia) works. Look at how TV now gets critical attention the way movies used to, and how movies are studied as great works of art the way books were. Or how graphic novels are being slowly but surely accepted as literature, with “Watchmen” appearing on lists of the greatest books alongside text-only classics. People have biases and they wear off slowly, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently different in quality about the content from medium to medium. Just in form.

        And I’ve certainly read a book as entertainment during dinner many times when I was younger. I likely would still, if ate dinner alone.

        The Batman animated series is fantastic, yes, especially for its time. And there you go — it’s a cartoon! That doesn’t make it less (or more) inherently challenging or deep than a live action series, or a short film, or a comic, or a novel, or a radio play, or a fairy tale, or a thousands of years old Greek theatre piece. It’s all storytelling. Some are good, some are bad, most are somewhere in between.

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      12. Wow. Touched a nerve? As for snobbery, what were you saying about Adam West’s Batman? A little too camp for you?

        Do I consider the Batman animated series inherently challenging? Sorry no. Do I think that we as a society watch too much TV? Yes. Do I consider most TV and films inherently unchallenging? Yes I do because that is their purpose and I enjoy different media for their different purposes. Do some texts (regardless of whether they are comics, films, TV shows, poems or novels) transcend their media? Yes, but most don’t. Do I think most TV is unchallenging when compared to most novels? Sorry but I do.

        Let me know what you think of the next Episode of Gotham tomorrow night.

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      13. I think we’re mostly just talking at cross-purpose. I don’t know about it being a nerve, but presumptions about any medium being inherently inferior is a pet peeve of mine, sure. I meant to refer to such presumptions as seeming somewhat elitist, and hence trying to get to the bottom of them, not in any way trying to be antagonizing or offensive. I deeply apologise if I accidentally come off as though I was. Because of course most TV is absolute rubbish. But most books are, too. As you say, some are great and transcend the medium. My point is only that there’s no reason to assume a book will and something on TV won’t. The odds of finding one of the ones that will is much smaller than finding one that won’t in either case. You might have read more good novels than you’ve seen comparable TV shows, but that’s likely got to do with your exposure more than anything else. If you’d been reading assembly line pulp pocket book novels, or whatever’s being pimped at the high profile or cheap tables when you enter a book shops, then you’d be getting an exposure more representatively comparable to what you’d get if you simply turn on the TV to see what’s on. Same goes for any other medium.

        Obviously, books have a numerical advantage in having been around for longer, having a great output and — most importantly, perhaps — until recently having had a cultural status as the place where “serious” art would be formed and published. You could easily spend a lifetime reading only great novels and never run into any bad ones, because the medium has had time to acrue so many. But that’s all in the users and authors, and that changes over time. It’s not because books are inherently superior (or, for that matter, inferior) to any other medium. They all have their upsides and downsides. And as we agreed in a different conversation, the TV landscape has deepened and evolved considerably in the past couple of decades. The cultural barriers are disappearing, just like they once did for movies, or for radio, or any other new medium that’s every reared its head. I love books. I think books are irreplacable and fill a function no other medium can. But so does an audio play, or a graphic novel, or a painting, or a TV show. Personally liking one more than another is perfectly understandable, but assuming they can’t on a general basis, that leads to a lot of people missing out.

        Anyway, just trying to make my point clear, because I keep feeling we’re talking slightly past one another. I wasn’t trying to say the Animated Series was Great Art, I was using it as an exampe of something being more than what someone might expect from an often considered “inferior” medium (cartoons). There are certainly animated things out there that WOULD be Great Art, but to me subjectively, Batman TAS, for all its virtues, is just a good children’s show. I only brought it up as an apropos since you mentioned it, and it seemed like a good example of something that’s more than one would expect it to be, “in spite” of its medium.

        Yup, looking forward to Gotham. Wondering if the Red Hood Gang will tie in with Jeremy at all.

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      14. There is no need to apologize for presenting your ideas. I think we know what we are saying and we are repeating ourselves regardless. It could lead a person to suggest that the current medium is inappropriate for the message. You have made your point clear and I have made my point clear. While I enjoy the sense of forward momentum with ideas, attempting to convince me of the necessary commitment and potential rewards of one form over another is not going anywhere.

        I appreciate your continued comments and look forward to sharing new topics.

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  1. I don’t mind Bullock being a little dirty here. They’re portraying him as very willing to bend and look the other way to be left alone and do his own thing — something he pretends is because he’s lazy, but when push comes to shove most of the time seems to have more to do with his understanding that it gives him the freedom to then pursue the cases he deems worthwhile more diligtently. The mutual influence of this cynical ends-over-means attitude of his on Gordon, and of Gordon’s unyielding idealism on Bullock, is one of the best aspects of this show to me. It sets them both up for (and by now, they’re fairly far into) genuinely intriguing and interesting arcs to land them in a world where, a decade later, Bullock is the salt-of-the-earth honest cop and Gordon is the guy who okays a vigilante to roam his streets.

    I was way more skeptical of Pertwee’s Alfred up front than I see you were (accent aside), but he quickly won me over. I think the way they’re playing up his unease and uncertainty with his new role as parent and guardian is excellent. The unorthodox parenting is a great contributing factor to explain Bruce’s eventual odd life choices, and it also allows for Alfred (like Gordon and Bullock) to have an arc moving towards something. If he was Perfect Surrogate Dad from day 1, it’d be a lot less interesting to follow his development with the child. I’m embarrased I didn’t see that right away, but hey, at least I’ve joined the party now!

    As for “Arrow”, I think that has gotten a lot better as it has gotten to grow its own mythology season by season. Even so, it’s still a lightweight compared to what “Gotham” has been right off the bat. “Agents of SHIELD” started out as incredibly underwhelming and run of the mill, but I’m actually liking it as much as, if not more than, “Gotham” now that it is in its much more engaging second season. In fairness, I expect that by “Gotham”‘s second season, it will have caught up on the creative head start and outshine “SHIELD” again.

    None of them are on a level with the really complex cable dramas that are everywhere these days, of course, but for what it is, “Gotham” is really impressing me.

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    1. I think you are right about the different directions of the characters. I never really thought about batman actually making an appearance in the show. Since we arrived at the midseason break Pertwee’s Alfred has really grown on me and, as you suggested, the character is looking really good.
      Arrow, I have found, falls into a bit of a unyielding rut, providing me with little sympathy and storylines that feel like they lack momentum, but I think I have issues with a couple of the actors.
      I like Shield. Unlike Gotham, Shield does feel like it lives in the shadow of big budget movies. Gotham seems more distinct from the Nolan films even though there is some sense of consistency. It does feel like Shield is becoming more sophisticated, but I agree, Gotham got off to be a better start and has a very distinctive field.

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      1. We seem to be more or less in agreement here. The actors on “Arrow” has grown on me over time, and I don’t think the rut is that bad (season 1 he’s on a mission of personal vengeance, season 2 he’s trying to better the city and himself, season 3 seems to be about the arrogance of thinking he’s got it all figured out coming to bite him in the rear), but both current “SHIELD” and “Gotham” are leaps and bound ahead of it. As you saw, I put “SHIELD” as number 12 on my list of recurring TV, while “Gotham” was on the runner-up list. “Arrow” would never be on such a list, and if life ever gets in the way of my TV habits, “Arrow” would in fact be among the first 12 I drop for good. I like it, but I’m downright a fan of the other two.

        That said, as long as we can agree they’re all three vastly better than “The Flash”, I think everything else is detail.

        I’m not sure I feel “Gotham” is that similar to the Nolan movies, though. I feel there’s just enough of a dirty, industrial feel to the TV version that it is different from the more modern sci-fi-feel of the films. I think they’re borrowing a bit on the Nolan aesthetic, sure — they need casual viewers to identify with that property, since it is what they’ll know as “Batman’s city” — but I also think they’re finding other inspiration to flesh it out with, both from the comics and from the Burton films. I also love, love, love the heightened (omni-)presence of corruption. (The police captain, for instance, barely ever has a line of dialogue without alluding to it). In fairness, “Batman Begins” touched on that a lot, but it was basically gone by the second and third film, and I think it makes the Gotham of the show feel very distinctive and exciting. “Gotham” also is bringing on heaps and heaps of melodramatic odd-name villains and costumed villains to be, and while that’s one of my issues with the show, it also serves to differentiate it from Nolan’s films, which had a much more grounded approach and only very sparingly used the more flamboyant comic book villains at all.

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      2. And the flamboyant comic book villains are an essential contrast to the gritty corruption of Gotham and the dark brooding avenger of Batman. The series does provide a good pre-Batman moment to really layo the corruption element on heavy. I just hope we see more of the vaguely flamboyant and don’t get too stuck in the organized crime families.

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      3. Yes and no. If there are flamboyant villains everywhere ten years before Bruce thinks up his Batman persona, then one of the more interesting psychological aspects of the comics (whether the notion of Batman attracts the crazies or the crazies attract the notion Batman) will be fairly clearly responded years before he even enters the scene. I mean, in the early Batman continuity, he IS primarily fighting mobsters and organised crime.

        Basically, I’d like to see the organised crime aspect (Penguin being the one Batman rogue with a foot in both that camp and the mask-and-flair camp, so him included) fleshed out more and given a bit more depth before they get lost in flamboyant psychopaths with weird hang-ups. That’s what thrives on the corruption that’s so central to the story — both causing it and feeding off of it, if you will. The individual crazies are (at first, at least) just symptoms to the bigger issue, and I’d hate that to take centre stage too soon. Show’s only in its first season, and I’d be happy to focus primarily on various mundane crime families for at least another full one after this. One of the things the Nolan films did well was showing how “proper” criminals react to the crazies (Falcone vs. Scarecrow in “Batman Begins”, Maroni and the Russians vs. the Joker in “Dark Knight”), and I don’t think they’ve set the stage well enough to begin that segue yet. I mean, even the “Batman Animated Series” had some of its best episodes when he just fought regular gangsters and mobsters.

        Should they make it to season four or five, though, I’m all for having the flamboyant crazies start popping up all over the place, perhaps in sync with Bruce running off to begin his world tour walkabout slash training regimen. It just seems premature to have too many of them in season 1.

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      4. One of the elements I like about Batman is he is crazy himself. I always considered the does Batman attract the crazies question interesting because he is crazy. I would like a balance between the origin of the crazies and the mob elements. Prior to the mid season break it felt rather mob heavy.
        I don’t think there needs to be costumed villains, just a world where the balloon man and the goat have a role rather than other crime dramas like CSI where extraordinary crazy doesn’t fit as well. Thanks for insight. I hadn’t even thought about Bruce becoming Batman. Do you think they are going to age Bruce? When they eventually draw the show to a close, a good final scene would be the arrival of Batman.

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      5. I think it will be tough to resist it, at least. The showrunner initially said they’d be trying to not rely too heavily on Easter Eggs and cameos — and while I’ll agree what they’re doing isn’t that, they’re erring on the side of having actual, fully fledged appearances instead. Then they said that they’d be keeping even hints of the Joker in reserve for at least a season or two, and now the showrunner admitted there’ll be a small hint at some point this season. He might be referring to (small spoiler alert if you don’t read the news about the show before the episodes air) Red Hood going to make an appearance, or he could be talking about something else.

        I mean, “Smallville” (which is of course a much inferior show to “Gotham”, but still the most obvious point of comparison) had Clark be Superman in all but name for nearly half its run. And “Gotham” has been showing less restraint with doling out its mythology so far, not more.

        Since Bruce disappears for years in most backstory versions of Batman, though, they could well write him out for a season or two and then have him come back as older. They could even do that several times (boarding school first, perhaps, then the walkabout later). But I doubt it — the desire to follow his journey would probably be too great, even if it doesn’t quite fit with the show title.

        This is all speculation, anyway, half the fun is not knowing until they do it, and then squee or whine about it afterwards. 😉

        As to the villains, I agree, the goat and the balloon man (and most of their other villains to date) are all nice in-between solutions, but I feel like there are too many of them being introduced too fast. They’re leaving very little unexplored territory between that and the fully formed Batman rogues of the future, and they’re less than 1 season in. They’ve done the names and the obsessions, so now all that is left is the masks and the costumes. But hopefully, they could get some good stories for a couple of seasons out of the mob reacting to this new emergance of crazies giving criminals a bad name, though. So it might just be me being overly skeptical. I appreciate your viewpoint on this, it’s making me reconsider my initial hesitation in a new light!

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      6. I am surprised you don’t write more frequently on Gotham. You have some insightful and critical comments. I agree with regards to Smallville, except about the holding out. As long as Gotham can keep away from Bruce being Batman I think they will have succeed where Smallville failed (apart from Smallville essentially being a teen angst fest against Gotham as a psychological crime drama). As soon as Bruce says “I shall become a bat” it will be time to turn off. Otherwise I agree with your assessment of the mythology/show dynamic and the role of the villains. Thanks.

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      7. Thanks yourself, those are kind words! Due to time, really, I usually have enough just trying to write 1 post per new TV show I check out (I even limit myself to shows that started after I started writing these reviews, so I don’t have to write post on older stuff I also check out), and then I never get around to going back to them. I’d probably have (almost — there is the familiarity with the source material angle here that most don’t have) equal amount of stuff to say about any show I love — Justified, Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, Firefly, you name it, really.

        So it rarely occurs to me to take the time to go back to write more about a show after the post on first season impressions — I simply wouldn’t know where to start. This is a shame for shows that brutally change (like “Revenge”, which was really great in its first half-season and then degenerated so into predictable action soap that I eventually dropped it entirely, or like “SHIELD”, “Vikings” and now “Black Sails” which all improved dramatically in their second seasons), but usually, the impressions I had the first year tend to be fairly representative for the show’s duration, so it seems as good a rule of thumb as any to keep me from being overwhelmed by the amount of posts I need to write.

        To get back to “Gotham”, I very much agree with you. That said, if they could (with immense willpower) somehow keep Batman from taking centre stage, I could see the show continuing even after he does. If the focus stays on Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock trying to run the police department, with just the occasional late-night office chat with a masked man in the shadows and sporadic discoveries of criminals hogtied and left for the police on the street, they could make that work with the show as it is now set up.

        But of course, the temptation to make it a Batman show would become too great, so that’ll never happen.

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      8. I think you should just copy and paste some of your replies straight into a blog post. I won’t tell anyone. Some of the analysis is almost purpose made for a post.

        When I started watching Gotham I expected Jim to take centre stage and was surprised that Bruce appeared at all. There have been a couple of comics set in Gotham about Jim and the GCPD which have been really good and not featured Batman at all. But, a monthly comic with a readership of thousands can take risks that a weekly show with millions of viewers cannot.

        Let’s hope they can hold out on Batman for at least a couple of seasons.

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      9. I’ve done that occasionally, but I should probably do it more. Thanks for spurring me on! If I have some time on my hands this weekend, I’ll try to see if I can pilfer my comments here for material enough for a post. 😉 I’m currently trying to finish up my 2014 TV review-themed posts with a few summation posts (“the ones I dropped”, “the ones I never had time for” and a ranked list of the best new shows of the year), but I’ve still got most of Netflix’s “Marco Polo” left before I can do that last one. This might make for a nice filler topic in the meantime.

        I’m totally fine if they wish to hint at Batman like they have been doing. Show how the Batman mentality and obsession is formed and developed in as many ways as they wish, as much as they wish. Heck, they can even start the obsession with bats, though I hope they hold off on that part. The one thing I don’t want is just Bruce fighting criminals as a whole. The second he goes from “I’m obsessively investigating what happened to my parents” to “I obessively wish to fight crime in all forms and shapes”, it stops feeling like a prequel and starts feeling like a Beginning. And then the show’s days are numbered, at least with its current basic premise. Especially if he starts taking on the physical aspect of it. Detective work is one thing. Vigilantism would be going too far.

        From what I’ve read, though, they always planned to use Bruce very sparingly, and only changed their plans once they cast the boy who plays him. Apparently, the boy’s acting abilities convinced the showrunner that he could do a lot more stuff with such a young character than he’d ever thought possible when originally thinking up the series. And I see why — that boy just inhabits what I want from a young Bruce Wayne. Thoughtful, decisive, focused to the point of obsession, and emotionally very fraught in a way which really foreshadows the kind of suppressed anger and grief issues that the adult version will one day have. That’s immensely impressive from such a young actor, and I’m stunned every episode that he manages to deliver it. As established, I watch an insane amount of television, and let me tell you, kid actors usually either do tolerably well, or take you out of the experience by being too obviously bad. The hardly ever stand out. But this kid can hold his own with people like Donal Logue and Sean Pertwee. That’s almost unheard of, and concerns about it becoming the “young Batman” show aside, I’m exulted that they’re taking full advantage of it.

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      10. I agree that Bruce should not be a motivated crime fighter, especially aged twelve. I think they will have him help out Gordon which seems like a good basis for a future relationship and half the reason why Gordon would accept Batman as a crime fighter on the wrong side of the law.

        And yes, the kid is really good. I hope he becomes a Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Great child actor to great actor.

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    2. Ah, yes, that’d be great. It’s odd, but a lot of great child actors end up being stiff and wooden when they get older. Perhaps because they cease to “pretend” and start to “act”, I don’t know. I can’t think of any examples right now, sigh, but I know I’ve seen it a lot. So here’s hoping this won’t be one of those.

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      1. He’s probably too old at the outset for that problem, I think. I hope. But likely he’s approaching it as a job rather than a game already, so there shouldn’t be a difficult transition to cope with in a year or two like for those who start a bit younger.

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      2. It is a lot of pressure to put on the boy. I think Pertwee is great for him. They always seem to be hanging out as actors. An odd role model/TV dad to have, but very likely to support the kid into his future.

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  2. I was thinking, after all our talking about this show, we mostly just discussed what we like, what we want to see them continue with or think it likely they do, and what we think they could slow down a bit with. But we didn’t really touch on what specific things in the comics we feel would be good fits and that they should bring in. Not in five years time, but within a season or so of the immediate future.

    Me, I’d be happy to see more Falcones (in the comics, after all, Carmine has some rather interesting children). The children could easily be a bit younger than Bruce is, so it’s feasible that the show wants to have Carmine marry and procreate later in the series, even though he’s portrayed as fairly aging already. It’d be odd with all his talk of retirement and his mother for it to turn out that there is an entire clan of other relatives out there already, but I suppose they could go that avenue as well.

    And on the mafia front, I’d also be happy to see the Bertinelli family. Huntress can easily be older than Robin and Batgirl, so she could even be around as a toddler. I know “Arrow” already used her, but with the Dollmaker, they’ve made it clear they don’t feel bound to shy away from something just because another show has used it — and it’d be a generation earlier here, anyway.

    Parents of comics characters in general I think is a fun way to go, rather than continously making everyone 15 years older than Bruce (like Zsaz, Nygma and Dent). I’m fine with some Batman villains being a lot older than the hero, but it’s starting to be weird that nearly all of the bigger ones are. Though if they do that, they should be careful not to just make the parents a 1.0 version of their kids, like they now seem to be doing with the Scarecrow. (Admittedly, that’s the one character where there is a lot of precedence for that in the comics).

    I also think they (down the line, no rush) should consider bringing in nice-guy characters who will become evil one day. They’re doing that with Nygma, of course, but there are plenty of characters where this is much more present in the source material and where the character is supposed to be much older than Bruce in any case. I’m thinking of people like The Mad Hatter, The Clock King and Mr. Freeze, who could easily be on the show for multiple seasons without ever being anything but nice guys. Perhaps even Professor Pyg.

    On the flip side of that, they could do more of what they did with Tommy Elliot (whom I really hope will be brought back — I’d like to seem him “befriend” Bruce as per his comics backstory), and having kids around Bruce’s age show up. Doesn’t have to be big characters — though honestly, I’d think this would be a better use for Dent than what they’re doing now. But it could be smaller ones. The Calculator, for instance. Or perhaps an exotic foreign girl with some obvious Talia Al’Ghul pseodonym. You’d have to be careful with things like this — you don’t want Bruce to meet EVERY SINGLE PERSON of his adult life before he turns fifteen — but they could definitely do it more than they’re doing. Rather that than having all these people show up and already be 25 and more or less fully developed already.

    Another thing on the Bruce side of things that I would be happy if they could do more of — which might admittedly be tricky since they need to keep the focus on Gordon — is do a plotline or two on Wayne Enterprises, and how it is being run absent any actual adult Waynes to overlook it. They seem to have more than hinted that they’ll be doing that, though, so I guess in this case it’s just a matter of being patient and waiting for it to come back.

    This got a lot longer than I thought, when I sat down I just had a couple of thoughts, and then the rest came pouring out. But maybe you have some completely different points on your wishlist?

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    1. The Falcone/Carmine love interest angle is a good one. I think it strays over to focusing on Bruce a little more and I think the show should stay focused on Gordon. A little more Gordon family drama would be good. At the moment the Barbara Kean plotline is not cutting it. Now in terms of the comic and the Nolan films, we know Gordon’s relationships do not end well (I shudder at the thought of the show trying to do a Gordon/Essen marriage). However, the Barbara/Montoya relationship seems like a . I like Montiya as a character and I don’t know why she can’t be anything more than a lesbian with a grudge. Harvey is a complex character, why are there other complex characters? But I am getting off track.

      The Bertinelli family might be a good second chance situation because I don’t think they did a great job with it over in Arrow. Obviously they were focused more on the revenge of the Huntress. However, is there more to add? Crime family, children not pleased and have a dose of unseasonable good conscience which is inevitably marred by the fact they have been raised in a crime family.

      I didn’t like the Tommy Elliot casting so I hope that doesn’t go anywhere. And please, no Professor Pyg (he would have to appear without his mask and that would kill the character). I totally agree regarding Dent, what a waste. Aaron Eckhart was great. In Gotham, Dent seems like a slimy car salesman.

      I completely agree with the almost endless tedium of Bruce meeting a younger versions of every character or even worse the parents of his future villains. I still think the show would work better if they could focus us on Gordon and push Bruce to the side more. Gordon could meet younger versions of, as of yet un-freaked out Gotham criminals and it would work. However, I think the best bet would be to put the Batman cast of rogues on the back burner and, I dunno, create some new characters. I have heard that it has worked in other forms of fiction. Instead of turning the show into a fanfiction wannabe, Gotham could be a distinctive creation. Instead of having to run to the Black Mask before he was the Black mask, you could just have a criminal, as you mentioned in your blog, like the balloon man or Goat who fits in with the tone of Gotham from the Batman stories while not actually being a Batman story.

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      1. Agreed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they’re utilising a lot of stuff from the comcis — I’d rather be complaining they’re using too many established characters than too few — but I think they could stand to introduce a few more original ones. Though I seem to recall reading a casting news for a recurring psychopath called The Ogre that was a new invention for the show, so I suppose they’re still going down that road on occasion.

        I didn’t mind the kid who played Elliot, but whether he’d have the range to play him in future episodes where he’d have to shed the bully personality (outwards, at least), is anybody’s guess. If he rubbed you the wrong way, I suppose you might have caught on to something I didn’t and that it might be for the best. Too bad. I enjoy the notion of Bruce’s friends all being dubious (Selina actually wanting to be his friend but not admitting it to herself or to him, and Tommy pretending to be his friend but not actually wanting to be), it speaks to his isolation and future trust issues.

        Dent was so very wasted, I agree. I’m sure they’ll bring him back and flesh him out a bit, but honestly, he shouldn’t be in law school yet, far less the ADA.

        I don’t think they’ll do a marriage with Gordon and Essen, I think they’re more likely to play up the affair from the Miller book. (It was “Year One” that was in, right? Too long since I read it.) I almost assume they’re keeping any hint of romance between him and his coworker in reserve until he eventually marries Barbara — or some other character, depending on how much of a new path he blazes compared to the comics — and they can tear him up about the infidelity like some kind of inverted Lancelot instead of just having a boring love triangle like we’ve seen TV heroes do a thousand times before. Would be a big step towards making the character more morally grey in other ways than just his professional ethics, too. Anyway, all of which is to say, until he’s at least engaged to some other woman, I don’t think they’ll have any sparks fly with Essen. They’re keeping that card for later.

        They haven’t really tried fleshing out Montoya yet, and I agree she so far lacks the personality she has in the comics. I don’t mind the actress, though, so maybe she’ll grow on me when given more to do. The Major Crimes unit is, like the Wayne Enterprises plot, something which was touched on very early in the show and then sidelined. The series seems to know what it is doing, though, so I trust most such things to come back in one form or another.

        I don’t think they’d need to touch on the consciencous child angle much just to use the Huntress’ parents. Having another crime family with ties to the comics would be enough for the nonce, and then they could have the rebellious unhappy daughter in reserve for a season or two into getting to know her father as a horrid human being. It would be a nice twist for the non-comic reader, after season upon season of “like father like son” style criminal legacies to suddenly reveal that even the scariest mobster you can imagine could have a decent, borderline heroic daughter.

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      2. I think my problem with Huntress in Arrow is she lacked an sense of being heroic. So maybe a new view would be good, except they can’t actually make her Huntress until Bruce is Batman and we’d rather not let them do that.
        Tommy just seemed like a bully rather than the calculating and duplicitous character who turns out to be Hush. I would like that Tommy, but that might require too much Bruce time.
        More Major Crimes would be good. Let’s see Gordon become the great James Gordon and turn the police department into his police department. I think we were seeing that with his zero tolerance to corruption and his nonsense attitude. I just hope the arrival of the Red Hood (I hear 23rd Feb-it seems very soon) does not overshadow us with potential Joker sightings. Is the Joker really going to be a decade or two older than Batman? Like you suggested, I am starting to wonder if there is anyone younger than Batman. maybe we’ll see Dick Grayson in diapers.
        You know who I’d like to see appear, Basil Karlo. The original Clayface. Perfect fit. He had a life before Batman and with his disguises, he could make a good crime story.
        Not so much a perfect fit, but how about some Killer Croc? Maybe an original story? A freak show episode? Or is that going to be stepping on clown toes?

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      3. I agree about Huntress being premature, but I’m not wanting Huntress. I’m wanting Huntress’ family. If they must, they can include a toddler named Helena in her father’s dialogue and do Huntress-to-be-esque plots once she’s a lot older.

        I think her start on Arrow is fine as a start. Her roots are much more vengeance than justice. Ideally, they’ll make her a bit more heroic over time, if they bring her back.

        Tommy’s just a kid, and I figure it stands to reason he hasn’t developed the wherewithal to keep his true face properly hidden yet. The beating at his own front door in his last appearance could serve as a beautiful wake-up call for him, realising he needs to put up a different front to the world than what he’s doing. I like the idea of his origin story quietly mirroring Bruce’s and being caused in part by Bruce. Him starting out as something other than what he ends up as could play into that. But that is all assuming they bring him back at least a couple of times, which as you say, might require too much Bruce focus.

        I’ve tried to stay more or less unspoiled, but I think I read somewhere that the Flying Greysons will appear sans child, so I think they’re going with Dick not being born quite yet. And some I’m fine being older — Crane being a teenager right now is more than ok, he could even be a fully fledged grown-up for all I care. He’s never been a physical character, and so he doesn’t need to keep up with Bruce when Bruce is 30 and he’s much older. But others (like Dent, or Zsaz) bother me a bit. Joker being a generation older isn’t new — Burton did that, with the Jack Napier plot — but I think it’s better for the arch nemesis flair if they’re of an age, more or less. I’m skeptical of the Red Hood stuff too, but perhaps they’re using it as a red herring. Or maybe as a first step towards a long road leading to some unrelated character some day being inspired by the Red Hood Gang and donning a red hood of his own.

        I was never big on Clayface — backstory’s good, but the character himself always felt more like an over-the-top Superman villain than a Batman rogue — but sure, that could work. Killer Croc would be fine, too, and him I like more. He could even be Bruce’s age and already a showcase freak somewhere.

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      4. Between the pair of us and the hundreds of words we have written on Gotham, we should go straight ahead and start writing the episode. No wait, that might be a little too much like fan fiction.

        I have just been reading about the appearance of the Joker character. I waited the trailer and I have a bad feeling about this. I think we can take some solace in the fact he is not going to be full on Joker in the series. At least I hope not.

        There might be room for Tommy. If I am being honest part of the reason I don’t like him is because he looks completely different from the comics. At least with Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman they managed to find an actor with some distinctive quality often seen in the characters.

        The Red Hood idea could work. Use the Snyder Zero Year Red Hood construction. That could be really interesting. The idea of anonymity with a larger ideological driving force controlling peoples actions. Potentially a good fit with the Batman mythology.

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      5. I think we’ve gotten to a point where we’re of a mind on all these things. I’ve been trying purposefully to stay unspoiled, though, so I haven’t seen the trailers and don’t know anything beyond having seen headlines stating they’ll use the Red Hood Gang. I’m as skeptical as you are, but I’d rather have the episode itself try to convince me than form an opinion up front and then not be able to make an unbiased impression when I finally see it. Here’s hoping they do it well. From the interviews I read ages ago, it seems the showrunner is very aware of Joker being, as he put it, the crown jewel of the Batman mythos, and that they’re very intent on not wasting him too soon. If it seems in the trailer like they are, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and think that it’s just a marketing ploy, and that it won’t be the actual Joker we’ll meet, but just a read herring. It’d be way too soon, so fingers crossed I’m not hoping in vain.

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      6. I like the idea of it being a little misdirection. It gives me hope that the writers and directors aren’t just throwing out episodes and have an awareness of their audience and how to keep their audience interesting.
        Unfortunately, I always start biased and wait to be impressed or disappointed, possibly both.
        You know I should really spend a little more time reading a book. Oh wait, new episode. I’ll start later.

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      7. I really wish I took more time to read, too, but the thing is, TV is something I can do with my wife, reading — even if I read something she’s read or vice versa — isn’t. I like spending time with her, so the only reading I do these days is the reading I do in bed before I go to sleep. Which is maybe 20 minutes a night, often less, while I watch hours and hours of TV …

        I try not to have expectations about things, but it’s obviously hard. “Gotham” hasn’t been running for long enough for me to make up an opinon about how much I trust them, though. Maybe halfway through season 2 that will change, but for now, let the chips fall where they may.

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      8. That is so sweet and just in time for Valentine’s day. Did you make her read it yesterday? Surely being in bed together reading also sounds nice, maybe not giving a great deal of time for reading, but anyway…
        I like the idea that Gotham still presents a great deal of undiscovered potential. It should be that way. TV presents us with an experience that we should be able to anticipate but should be able to surprise us.
        We spend a lot of time discussing the possible directions of the show and many others, which is that sense of expectation as well as anticipation.
        What do you think about how much a show should surprise us and how much we should know its direction?

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      9. For most stories, I’d say I don’t want to know much of the direction. I want to know and understand the basic premise fairly quickly, but not the direction. However, prequel stories are different by their very nature. Part of the premise they wish to sell you on is “this is what happened before another thing which you’re already invested in”. Therefore, I do want to know about about the direction — the direction towards what I already know is a big part of its draw. That’s not to say I want to know all of the hows and whys and whens, of course, but I do want to have a feeling of blended recognition (“Oh, THAT’s where they were going with this!”) and suspense (“I wonder how on Earth this plot move is going to bring this particular character back towards how I know they’ll end up years later, as it seems to be going in a different direction entirely”). I’m less simply along for the ride with a prequel, because I have a vested interest in where it ends up — rather than simply having a vested interest in enjoying the ride there, like with most other stories.

        That’s a rule of thumb, though. If I’ve invested a large amount of time — several books in a series, several seasons of a TV show, etc. — in a story, and it’s lead one to believe it’s a certain kind of story, then I do want to know it will continue in that direction. That’s what I’ve been implicitly promised at that point. If “Age of Ultron” turns out to be a delightful, intimate piece about how Black Widow and Bruce Banner go to the ballet together some beautiful evening in May, it doesn’t matter how good it is, I’ll feel disappointed. Because it is supposed to be the continuation of a film series I’ve already invested in, and I expect it to honour the basic direction set forth by their example.

        But that amount of expectation is really just common sense. In any real sense of the question going beyond such basic framework expectations, I would larely prefer to stay surprised.

        And thanks for saying. We’re probably rather unhealthily co-dependent people — we both spent our entire Saturday morning making three return trips to the same shop because of a faulty item, because it didn’t even occur to us to have one of us stay home and do other things rather than make each trip together — but we’re happy, and that’s what matters.

        Don’t get much reading done, though, you’re right about that. She read the Illiad and the Odyssey last year. I always felt weird never having read Homer from cover to cover, seeing as I have a degree in Ancient Roman religion, of all things. So now that even she had read the volume I bought ages ago and left unread in my shelf, I’m six months after her finally getting around to them myself. Taking a break between the two at the moment to read some of her comics I haven’t gotten around to yet — “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III” and the “Nemo” spinoff — and then I’ll continue with the Odyssey. So, perhaps some time in March I’ll be able to continue with another book. Slow going.

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  3. http://screenrant.com/gotham-young-joker-actor-details/ Guys writing the article seems pretty sure he’ll be the Joker some day, but to me, Heller’s statements indicate there’s some other relation which they can pass off as a real, non-cop-out Joker-origin but keep it from being the actual Joker. Like he’s going to turn out to be the Joker’s mentor or older brother or something like that way down the line.

    Then again, as the article points out, they do keep talking about their “subtle” hints when they’re often anything but, so perhaps I’m giving Heller too much of the benefit of the doubt.

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    1. At least there continues to be a sense of uncertainty. I would hate for them to end up being so obvious when you have so many interested people. Of course, needlessly dragging it out seems like it could produce an equally negative response.

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      1. I’m reminded of Smallville, again, where Lex had, what, thirty cases of convenient amnesia to keep from figuring out Clark’s secret. And where Jimmy Olsen was around for years and years and then died only to reveal he had a kid brother who might turn out to be the comics character. Those are two extremes, of course, but I hope Gotham has the sense to stay away from that kind of elaborate hoop-jumping.

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      2. When DC revealed their movie timetable I remember reading that they were going to separate the film and TV continuity. Which meant most significantly that the guy playing Flash on TV would not be invited to play him on film. The idea fills me with some optimism. It suggests that while we will not have a Captain America/Agents of Shield situation, Gotham can more liberally and independently control story lines. So maybe those Smallville problems will be avoided.

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      3. With the exception of not being allowed to make Clark into Superman — which the showrunners kept insisting they wouldn’t want to do anyway — I don’t think “Smallville” had any notable restrictions on what it could and couldn’t do because of the film efforts. The sole thing is that they never got to use Batman on the series.

        The hoops I’m worried about are the hoops needed to stretch something out over many years while still trying to keep the end game in reserve because “this is a prequel after all”. If they introduce someone likely to end up being the Joker while Bruce is still a pre-teen, that seems a likely road to end up on. As Heller himself indicated, Joker’s eventual origin is locked into the Batman mythos as AFTER Bruce dons the mask. Introducing the guy who will become the Joker a good decade before he can actually become him therefore seems highly risky to me, as they’ll risk having to do the Lex-on-Smallville dance of having him be almost-the-joker-but-not-quite-the-joker for years and years and years. But it has little to do with the restrictions related to the films wanting some stuff to themselves, I would think.

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      4. And yet Smallville was all about Clark being Superman in every way except actually calling him Superman. Wait, I think they used the name as a joke.
        The series had its successes, but was an essentially flawed premise. I mean, Lex in Smallville being evil and then not and then evil? There was too much awareness of the characters to mess around with them that much.
        In Gotham, Gordon is an important but not central character. In the comics the character had been effectively used, but Batman functions without him. If they start messing with the Joker, as you suggest, they are playing with pre-established dynamics between characters that are heading into the Lex living in Smallville situation: the viewer is forced to accept a situation that they know isn’t right and pushes them into acknowledging they are having to suspend their disbelief.
        The situation is too risky to allow me to enjoy the show. I mean that is the point isn’t it? Aren’t I supposed to enjoy a good story without getting confused because they introduce a character who doesn’t make sense in the context in which he is created?
        Everyone knows Superman is an alien and yet when it comes to Batman his villains are very rarely aliens. Aliens don’t function as well in the Batman context. As you point out, this is a prequel context. As much as we like the Joker, he can’t exist before he exists.

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      5. You say Convenient case of amnesia and I think that is very generous of you. I would call it poor storytelling or at best an unwillingness to own the stories that they produced.
        There will be hoop jumping. It is inevitable. I agree. Let us hope it is kept minimal.

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