“Gotham” An Empty Crime Drama Behind Batman’s Mask?

Jessica Hutton | Aug 26, 2014

Gotham-Promo-Art
The crowning jewel of FOX’s season lineup, “Gotham,” premiers September 22 and takes viewers behind the mask of the Batman franchise and its characters. The show offers a perspective never before captured by the movies or TV shows, which is exciting for all Batman fanatics. But it is troublesome too, as we worry it won’t be able to do justice to the famed franchise.

Will the show deliver what we’re looking for?

“Gotham” will be a superhero TV series without any actual superheroes or action-packed fighting scenes. This could be a potential downfall, as it may repulse fans, whether they’re followers of Batman films or comics, or just superhero media in general.

Bruno Heller, the show’s creator and writer, assuages this concern by saying the show will include plenty of violence, to the point of creating “disturbing” scenes. As the Batman franchise depicts a superhero battling crime to save a city, “Gotham” will be a crime-heavy, and thus violence-heavy, show but without the traditional superhero character to save the day. This spot will be filled in by the police department, so Batman loyalists may consider “Gotham” to be more of a cop-centric crime drama than a superhero show.

Beware the Crime Drama Trap

Crime dramas are a dime a dozen these days, so I worry “Gotham” will fall into that trap and become another run-of-the-mill network TV show that’ll go the way of countless other one-season blunders. The show needs violence to survive, but the plot must weave in the elements that portray these characters in a new but recognizable light to maintain the interest of viewers. Without both, “Gotham” is doomed to fail.

“Gotham” creators must ensure the backstory for Commissioner James Gordon, the main plotline of the show, doesn’t fall into the typical, boring backstories of other crime drama characters. You know what I’m talking about. The “I came from a crime-ridden family, and now I want to fight crime to overcome my family’s history and limitations” sob story.

Give us something good, “Gotham.” Show the complexity of Gordon and how, driven by the crime overtaking Gotham, he came to sacrifice his own career and beliefs and trust a masked vigilante with the future of the hometown he protected his entire police force career. If Gordon is supposed to be the star and nontraditional “superhero” of this show, he needs to be compelling enough to captures the attention of Batman fans from the opening seconds.

The Story Behind the Mask

“Gotham” needs to carefully and meticulously blend aspects of a crime drama and a superhero movie to be both relevant and entertaining for a wider audience, including Batman fanatics.

Bruce Wayne has an unforgettable backstory. Wayne is a young, recently-orphaned billionaire who inherited the estate and profound reputation of his parents, after they were shot on the streets of Gotham. The burden of living up to his parent’s lifestyles is sure to have an effect on Bruce as he grows up. I hope “Gotham” can unravel this tangled web of emotions and live up to its potential for telling a gripping, powerful story about a troubled youth growing into a figurehead necessary for one city’s greater good.

With all the challenges it faces, I’m not sure this show will pull off what it promises. After other disappointing comic books-turned-TV shows, most recently including the sleeper, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the cynic in me expects this to become just another network show with potential that completely misses the mark.

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Photo: Fox


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