Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gotham to TV Minus Batman

This news broke on Tuesday, and I'd meant to address it earlier, but the week kind of got away from me. The gist is that, with Marvel Studios' Agents of SHIELD (which I haven't seen yet, but I'll give my read on it as soon as I do) making its debut this week and creating a beach head for the very popular Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen, thoughts inevitably turn to what DC Comics is doing to stay ahead of its perpetual rival in the multimedia sweepstakes. Granted, they've got  the popular Arrow continuing on the CW, inspired (loosely, I'd say) by the Green Arrow character, and that's done well enough to trigger a potential spin-off featuring the Flash.

Still, those projects, while existing in the same universe, nonetheless stand apart from the shared movie universe Warner honchos are building vis-a-vis Superman, Batman, and the eventual Justice League. Now comes word that Fox TV has picked up Gotham, a prequel series set in Batman's hometown that would track the genesis of Last Good Cop James Gordon, the man who will eventually become the city's police commissioner (and Batman's closest ally). We don't know much about this, other than the fact that Gordon (played by Gary Oldman last time around) is the main character, and we'll also witness the origins of some of the most (in)famous villains in the Gotham City lineup.

The only missing element, natch, is the caped-and-cowled one himself, who's going to be busy making with the Afflecktations on the big screen while this is all playing out. Bear in mind also that this isn't the first time in recent memory that WB has flirted with a live action iteration of the Caped Crusader on the small screen. Back in the early aughts they were actively developing Bruce Wayne, which would have followed the pre-Bat years of our favorite orphaned billionaire. This show, developed by Tim McCanlies, was kiboshed when the movie folks said it was stepping on the toes of what would become Batman Begins, and it eventually morphed into the Superman prequel Smallville.

The success of the Chris Nolan Bat-flicks, plus Smallville's record-setting ten year run (for which McCanlies ended up being very richly rewarded) prove the wisdom of that decision, but I'm still not sure this show is any better of an idea. I think Jim Gordon is a great character -- one of the all-time best in comics -- but my gut tells me that the version we'll get on the tube will bear very little resemblance to the character I love. Then again, neither did the Gordon played by Pat Hingle in the four '80s-'90s Batman movies, so it's not like the bar is set that high. Gotham is being headed up by Bruno Heller, creator of CBS-TV's The Mentalist, and while there's no delivery date yet, I'm sure it's a priority project for Fox. Let's see what happens with this.

(Source: Wired)

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