Caped Crusades Roundtable: Gotham Season One


Gotham’s first season has wrapped. Was it a success? In terms of ratings, definitely. It was one of Fox’s strongest new shows, got a very early renewal for season 2. But critically? The results have been kind of mixed. Gotham seems to be a show people love either because it’s so campy and insane and hate pretty much for those same reasons (also messing with origins of characters, even though they do that in the comics time and time again). What did our staff think of Gotham’s first season and what do we hope to see going forward? Check out our opinions below:

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Skip Harvey (Twitter)

OK, Gotham’s first season is done. It’s already been renewed for a second installment, so the conversation of will it or won’t it is mute. We can now focus on what we learned throughout the first season. The premise of Gotham, in theory, was to show us the city that could have spawned not only Batman, but the rouges that could evolve from such an environment.

Sadly, I don’t necessarily think that’s what Gotham gave us. What made Batman Begins great was that it showed us a flawed, hopeless city and the extreme characters that were born inevitably out of it’s dysfunction. Batman was a desperate attempt to break a never ending cycle of corruption, crime, and misery by doing things outside of the closed system. The villains he fought were a product of escalation. Cops wear bulletproof vests, so bad guys use armor piercing bullets. Batman wears a mask, so the bad guys wear masks, and so on.

Gotham, on the other hand, tries too hard to tie all these colorful, extreme characters together to weave the fabric of the city before Batman is even an idea. The result of this is that the rogues essentially create the environment that creates Batman, not the other way around. Their existence creates the need for Batman, turning him into a reaction to them. That changes the entire mythos in the same way that Greedo shooting first does. It corrupts the motivations of important characters and turns them into something completely foreign.

Just having Bruce Wayne a character in the show is a serious mistake. By having him forge relationships with Jim Gordon and Selina Kyle fundamentally change adult Batman’s place in what we have traditionally considered the world of Gotham City. Not only that, but it quickly devolves into Bruce and Selina’s Junior Detective Agency.
The real main character of the series should be Gotham itself, with its vicious cycle of self-fulfilling malaise, not the people that are artificially creating the Batman universe we know is at the end of the line. What we needed was The Wire, what we got was the Star Wars prequels with a touch of Nancy Drew. That’s just not the show we deserve.

Amanda Chrisman(Twitter)

If you’ve read any of my Gotham episode reviews you know that I’m a pretty big Gotham fan and that will of course be reflected in my discussion of the season. Since that is the case I’m going to start by discussing the various flaws of the show before I talk about how awesome the show is from my perspective.

Let’s start all the way back at The Balloonman. I can’t really find a kind way to say that this episode sucked. I can’t even remember if there was interesting character development going on in that episode because all I can remember is how stupid the case of the Balloonman was. To me Gotham is supposed to be set in the real world, kinda like how Chris Nolan’s Batman movies were meant to be far more realistic than your typical superhero film. Which is why murdering people by handcuffing them to a single weather balloon came off as completely ridiculous. As it so happens, you can lift a man quite high off the ground with weather balloons, but one weather balloon can lift about 12-20 pounds, making the vigilante Balloonman completely ludicrous. I nearly gave up hope that Gotham was going to be any good after watching The Balloonman and it is not the only terrible plot they’ve had on Gotham.

I really disliked the Ogre story arc, even if I was happy to see him bring out the psycho in Barbara Kean. I kind of feel like this case was simply a way to give Gordon and Bullock something to do while other characters around them were doing far more interesting things. That whole plot would have been far more interesting if Barbara had been involved from he beginning. Say if the reason Jim started investigating the Ogre was because he took in Kean and was teaching her to be his partner in crime. Since that is not how things went down most of the stuff with the Ogre just felt like filler.

I sort of liked Fish’s story arc with The Dollmaker, but calling him Dulmacher was over the top and unnecessary. None of the characters who were ever known as The Dollmaker was ever a Dr. Dulmacher, I think it’s a definite flaw of this show that the writers are saying “look look see here this person is going to be this Batman character down the line”. And to be honest that doesn’t bother me most of the time because I know they are trying to appeal to an audience that isn’t going to know these characters as intimately as a dedicated Batman fan will, but there was no reason to call The Dollmaker Dulmacher it’s far too on the nose. I feel like they took their cue from the Riddler’s real name being Edward Nygma, but I still don’t like it.

For the most part I find myself overlooking story arcs that aren’t the best because the acting and character development more than makes up for it for me. I can’t believe how well this cast is handling these legendary roles, but they are handling it, and with flare. The cast of Gotham is really what has me hooked on this show, I love to watch as each character is developed. The interactions between the cast, like Bruce and Alfred, Bullock and Gordon, and Selina and Bruce, are half the reason I watch this show, with characters like Edward Nygma, Fish Mooney, and Penguin making up the other half.

I’m excited for the second season and I think that if the writers of Gotham can keep up with the great character development and perhaps devote more screen time to beloved characters like Nygma, I see this show lasting for a long time to come. And I sincerely hope they bring back Fish Mooney because she’s amazing.

Eric Chrisman (Twitter)

Ok, looking back on Gotham’s first season, it’s not a bad show. It has some good episodes, some bad, like many first seasons of many first shows, it’s trying to find it’s footing. I feel though, that in the wake of shows like Arrow & Agents of Shield, which have found their groove, and Flash & Arrow (and to a lesser extent shows like Agent Carter & IZombie), which pretty much hit it out of their park with their freshman seasons, Gotham might arguably be the weakest comic book show on TV right now.
Granted, that’s out of an incredibly strong crop, and with a wave of new comic book-based shows due out in the next year or so such as Supergirl, a new spinoff of Flash/Arrow  and more Marvel Netflix shows just to name a few. Both the cast and crew have talked at length about how they believe the best way to go moving into season two is more focus on iconic Batman villains. Basically season one was Gotham before it really goes nuts and crazy psychopaths in costumes start to take over. So I’m pretty hopeful that much like Agents of Shield  & Arrow got pretty awesome in season two after a bumpy first season, we’ll see the same progress on Gotham.

Speaking specifically on the finale, it kind of encompasses the whole first season really. There were some really cool moments (Falcone bonding with Jim, Fish shooting Sal, Barbara killed her parents!) but also some really ridiculous ones (Selina joins up with Fish, because reasons! Falcone deciding he wants to take back Gotham, then changing his mind seconds later),  but I also felt it was really rushed. Where the hell is Renee Montoya after being such a big part of the early episodes? Where’s Harvey Dent? Why did Nygma get like one quick scene? It probably would’ve been much better served as 90 minute or even two-hour season finale to really get all the story beats in that were needed.
Ultimately season one of Gotham was a very uneven season, but that’s not unusual for the first season of any TV show. I feel that if they stick to their supposed plan of season two, which is basically sticking more to introducing known characters of the Batman universe and hopefully it won’t be as reluctant to embrace it comic book roots as it has been in its first season.

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