Monday night not only marked the first night of fall, but the first night of the new fall television season. My DVR was loaded with three new shows by the end of the night along with the season premiere of a favorite from last year, The Blacklist, which did not disappoint. The others included yet another Sherlock Holmes-esque redo in Forever, which has moderate promise; the insanely unbelievable (yet mostly accurate from a nerd standpoint) genius/geek fest Scorpion; and the prequel to the entire Batman saga, Gotham.
My wife isn't a fan of superhero-type movies and TV shows. Even though I didn't really grow up reading comic books or graphic novels, I love a good film or television series based on DC or Marvel. I tried to convince her that even though Gotham is a series about the birth of the Dark Knight (and all his eventual nemeses), it was primarily a cop show. "Batman was a cop show," she replied. "Batman was a superhero; there's a difference," I said. "Is there," she asked incredulously, "Is there?"
So, I watched Gotham last while she read. If I don't have to watch The Fault in Our Stars, she certainly isn't required to sit through my super hero series.
Gotham is centered around now detective James Gordon -- the eventual commish who will work with Batman to solve crimes. Fresh out of the military, he is saddled with a crooked partner and their first case together is the death of the Wayne's, shot while young Bruce watched.
After watching the pilot, I can understand why my wife was not interested. This is not to say I wasn't and won't continue watching. On the contrary, I enjoyed every minute. The problem is that it was so much easier to watch knowing who these characters are and, more to the point, who they will become.
The first glimpses of The Penguin, Catwoman and Poison Ivy lend a deeper understanding to their characters that you wouldn't have were you not an avid comic book reader. I have no idea how true to the original stories this is. The Batman storyline has been one of the most exploited in all of comics, from the campy '60s TV show to the '90s Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney (God help us) to the much more serious Christopher Nolan series. Now with all of the various super hero plot lines beginning to merge both in film and television, like the unification of boxing title belts, it would appear that we might get to see what the comic book creators actually intended.
As for this series, it is everything you would imagine a modern day version of the Batman series to be. It's dark, noir-ish with characters that are good, bad and complicated. There isn't a lot of nuance, but there isn't supposed to be. In the world of super heroes, just as in the realm of mythology, people tend to be painted with a pretty broad brush.
Still, it makes for entertaining TV and if you do understand and have knowledge of the backstory, even to a slight degree, there are plenty of a-ha moments to keep things moving, and more to come I'm sure. For now, it's worth the room I need on my DVR. I'll just have to watch this one without my wife.
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