After The Smoke Clears: Gotham Season 1

Gotham returned to FOX’s Monday night line up on April 13th with the final three episodes of its freshman season. This presentation has been a strange rollout.   Three different chunks of episodes have dropped in seemingly random intervals since Gotham’s debut last fall.  I’ve been reasonably interested in this show and even I mistakenly thought that the previous finale was the season finale.  If my DVR wasn’t doing its job, I would have totally missed there were more episodes left at all. Things like that should be a turn off, but I can’t stop watching. because The Gotham formula is just working for me.

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This last episode took us back to the city,  where good ol’ thorn-in-the-side crusader, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has been made president of the policeman’s union.  A fair number of characters are unhappy with this outcome, but the young bucks at the precinct like what they see. They appreciate Jim’s good work and they’re looking to forward to cleaning up their city.  I’m sure there’s no possible way that the organized crime bosses who run things will be worried about that, right?

Meanwhile the colorful goddess of Gotham’s criminal nightlife, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith), is still locked in an impenetrable complex and the prisoner of a sadistic doctor. Her gumption has helped her forge an alliance with her mad captor. Now only time will tell where Fish ends up next.  She just won’t go away.

As for the rest of the cast, their stories don’t really cover much new ground.  Jim’s partner, Detective Bullock, is still angry all the time and quirky forensics guy, Nygma, still has his riddles. Gotham keeps me smiling and interested enough.

To be blunt, the series is still weird and clearly finding its rhythm, but it has definitely grown on me.  Gotham may be down in ratings, but hopefully that will still get a kick from the DVR / streaming crowds after the initial broadcast. FOX has renewed Gotham for a second season so it must be doing something right.

Having recently introduced some big notable Batman universe villains, like The Joker, the series might be running the risk of rolling out way too many story lines at once. I could also see the whole project flying off the rails if the showrunners ever decide to try to wedge it into any kind of ongoing DC Universe/Batman canon. Fortunately, the writers and producers have kept far away from attempting to link this to any existing comic lore.  An example of this danger, to me, is the way the show is currently advancing the Bruce Wayne plot. This could be interesting, but it may also feel like a blind  stab at trying to pull this into the DC Comics world. In my opinion, this would be doing the show a massive disservice.

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A viewer who isn’t familiar with the intricacies of Bruce Wayne’s backstory should be able to continue to enjoy Gotham as a relatively simple prime time cop show, featuring some colorful characters that they might vaguely recognize.  I’ll certainly still be keeping my eyes on this show, but then again, I don’t take things as seriously as many of the comic book faithful.  With any luck, FOX will recognize the opportunity to increase viewing by adding Gotham to streaming outlets beyond Hulu in the off season.

After finally wrapping up this season, here’s my take: If you’re a Batman loyalist, you may as well skip it.  But if you enjoy cop procedurals set in unlikely environments with unruly, sideways takes on genre conventions, then Gotham has plenty to offer you.