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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Gotham (Second Half).


Gotham.
(Second Half).



I'm not sure where to start with this one. I don't really know what to say. Part of that is that after a week of getting very little sleep, I feel hollowed out and it's difficult to say much about anything and people have started to remark upon my poor conversational skills, but most of it is because Gotham is weird. In a way, it doesn't seem like a single series - it's tough to link the strange, disparate parts of it to one another in a coherent way.

I remarked in my review of the first half how the series had an awkward, stilted quality to it, and that hasn't changed: If anything, it has only become magnified over time, culminating in a finale that was almost dreamlike in how strange it was.

Picking up after the tenth episode, Gotham's second half covers Jim's brief tenure as an Arkham Asylum security guard before returning to the GCPD, a position now complicated by a brewing mob war and a burgeoning relationship with medical examiner Leslie Thompkins. Meanwhile, Fish finds herself trapped in a strange prison where the prisoners are harvested for their organs, and must turn this new status quo to her advantage.

Not helping my total inability to write a coherent review of this series is how totally forgettable it was. I scrolled through a list of episode summaries earlier, and my statistically most common reaction was 'Have I seen this episode? I don't remember seeing this episode.' There's really nothing to make Gotham stand out, nothing memorable about it, and airing as it is in the same season as several much more memorable DC adaptations (Arrow and The Flash are both great, and while Constantine was so absolutely awful that I couldn't get past the first few episodes, I could at least describe to you what happened in those episodes which I did see) it fades into the background. 

Nice ... hair? I guess?

The visual direction is unremarkable, the acting is almost supernaturally bland with a few notable exceptions (Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, is a joy to watch), the plotlines are predictable and tired, the character arcs are dull at best and odd at worst. There is nothing special about Gotham, nothing unique - it is exactly what you'd expect from a very cynical and somewhat desperate attempt to cash in on Batman's enduring popularity.

Not helping things is that our big finale was just weird. As a gang war takes hold in Gotham, the finale becomes a two strand story: One where Gordon, Falcone, Bullock and Penguin get captured, escape, and then get captured again about nineteen thousand times, including being captured several times by a returned Fish who for some reason has managed to recruit Selina - a storyline which culminates not in a dramatic escape but in three of them just managing to sneak off and Falcone deciding that he's going to quietly retire; and one where Barbara, former series regular now demoted to recurring guest star, reveals herself to be the most chewery-scening, hammy murderer in the entire show before chasing Leslie around her apartment with a knife - a storyline which culminates in Barbara being knocked out and then never mentioned again. 

Which I suppose is to serve the purposes of this totally uninteresting romance subplot.

Do you see what I mean when I said the finale was bizarre and dreamlike. It's not intended to be: It has all the hallmarks of the writers intending this to be serious drama, so I don't know how we ended up with scenes like Barbara suddenly holding up a butcher's knife while grinning and asking if Leslie is uncomfortable, that would seem more at home in a horror movie satire like Scary Movie than it does in a primetime drama series. 

It's frankly a mess, and the only redeeming part of the finale is that it kind of sets things up for the Batman stories to take place: Penguin is now unchallenged King of Gotham; Edward Nygma has very abruptly gone mad; we have no less than two Joker candidates waiting in the wings, because what would an entirely unnecessary Batman prequel be without an odd and out of place preoccupation with the Joker; and Bruce has found the Batcave, apparently built by his father, because aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. Just - just argh. 

Ergh.


So, that's Gotham, the most pointless Batman tie-in this side of anything. I mean, gosh, who thought it was a good idea to even greenlight it in the first place. I don't know if Gotham has been renewed, because to be brutally honest, I don't care enough to check. It was difficult enough trudging through my own swampy apathy to write this review, all told. Apparently the finale got a lot of viewers, so that should, at least, put it in good stead for renewal if it hasn't been already. 

Ugh. 

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