When Gotham first premiered, the issue was with how much “Batman” there was for a non-Batman show. That aspect is only getting worse and ruining what could be a decent show.
I was skeptical that they would be able to make a show about James Gordon and the city of Gotham, pre-Batman, work. The more they released about the show, the more skeptical I got. It was going to have Penguin, Riddler, an appearance by a young Poison Ivy, Bruce Wayne, Alfred and so on. That seemed too much of the Batman elements for a show that took place when Bruce Wayne was twelve years old.
The first mistake was in starting off with the Wayne murders. That made Bruce Wayne a focal point of the show. But do we really care about what he does well he’s twelve? No, so the show runners had to make his early years interesting by having him appear in the show, giving Gordon reasons to see Bruce, and giving Bruce something to track down.
Now having a twelve-year old Bruce look into his parent’s murder is interesting. It helps show how he becomes Batman, the start of his obsession with justice. But in a show that is supposed to be about James Gordon and his life, and the city, before Batman came around, there is entirely too much Bruce. They are forcing a presence for Bruce Wayne in the show. As if having his (almost) entire rogue’s gallery isn’t enough to say “this is still Batman’s world”, they have to throw Bruce at us as much as possible.
The episode I just watched, “Penguin’s Umbrella”, really drove home that point. Gordon is on the run from the mob, he’s been shot, he’s in danger, and he makes a detour to Bruce Wayne to tell Bruce that he won’t be able to keep his promise? And he has the other two detectives, Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, promise to take over for him if he dies?
It’s bad enough that Penguin is turning into James Gordon’s archenemy. What happens when Batman shows up? Penguin forgets all about the history he has with Gordon now?
That’s not even getting into the age problems that are happening with Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya, who are as old if not older then Gordon himself. But it is a different take on Batman, so their ages aren’t as big a deal.
The show’s biggest mistake is in trying to have too much Batman. I like the non-Batman aspects of the show. Change out Penguin’s name, make him someone aside from Oswald Cobblepot, and you have a very interesting police/mob show. I like the tone of the show, the dark and pulpy feel of Gotham, the aged look of the show’s tech. I like Gordon as the good cop in a bad system. The comic book characters, Fish Mooney especially, are all interesting. The show would be good if it just left Bruce Wayne behind.
We all know that life is going to get hard and stay hard for Gordon. We know he has to fail, which is another problem with the show, there’s no hope. If Gordon succeeds, there will be not Batman. Which could be fine, but the show has already established that Batman is coming, so the show needs to lay the ground work for that arrival.
Gotham does not need Bruce Wayne and the constant introduction of Batman-related characters. Everything else the show has going for it would make for a good television on it’s own. That’s the show I want to watch. The tone and style of the show mark it as different from all the other cop dramas out there, it makes it stand out. It doesn’t need the Batman influence.
I don’t want to see James Gordon arrive at Bruce Wayne’s house to apologize for not solving the murder. I don’t want to see Bruce Wayne try to save Wayne Enterprises. I don’t want Bruce Wayne in Gotham at all.
Take out Bruce Wayne and Gotham would be a great show.