6 Things I Want to See on Gotham

As hesitant as I may be to embrace the new Gotham TV show on FOX, I can still admit that it could be an amazing show. Gotham will be loosely based on Gotham Central, one of my favorite comic book series of all time, and one I have been praising as a potential TV adaptation from the very beginning. Any true Batman fan will tell you that Batman is only as cool as he is because of the world in which he inhabits, and Gotham City is one of the greatest settings in all of fiction.

The potential for Gotham to be a great show is through the roof!

In theory.

At least they got the logo sort-of right

The producers and writers could still mess it up big time. Weren’t we all giggling with glee at the potential behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? That show is only mostly OK more than halfway through it first season, when we all expected it to be Firefly reborn (or at least I did). Gotham could go either way. Brilliant or bupkis. Glorious or garbage. Well if the good people at FOX want Gotham to be a success, they should take my phone calls and listen to the 6 things I want to see in the show!

For those who don’t know, Gotham is going to be a show about Commissioner Gordon when he was just a young, rookie cop, teaming up with gruff but lovable veteran detective Harvey Bullock, as they police the streets of Gotham City in the years before Batman. The show will pick up shortly after Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down in that alley, and will feature a young, pre-teen Bruce Wayne and several other famous comic characters before they become famous, like Oswald Cobblepot before he becomes the Penguin and Selina Kyle before she becomes Catwoman.

Like I said, the idea has potential, and there are a few things I’d definitely like to see at some point in the series.

6. Batman

Maybe you’ve heard of him

Obviously. The biggest concern with Gotham is that it’s going to be a Batman TV show that doesn’t feature Batman. I assume that has something to do with Batman starring in the next big DC blockbuster movie instead, but it doesn’t matter, because Gotham doesn’t necessarily need the Dark Knight – at least not in the beginning. The producers have said that the plan for Gotham is to tell the story, over several seasons, of how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, with the cape and cowl appearing in the series finale. That’s what they did with Superman on Smallville. Clark Kent didn’t take to the skies in the red and blue tights until the very end of the very last episode.

But did saving Superman for the finale of Smallville really work for anybody? Wouldn’t Smallville have been much, much cooler if Clark Kent had become Superman years earlier and had several seasons saving the world? The producers of Gotham may say they want to save Batman until the series finale, but screw that. I say bring on Batman by season 3. Spend the first two seasons creating the world of Gotham the show, building up Gordon, Bullock, and Gotham City itself into well-established characters, and then introducing the Batman game-changer. This might require skipping forward several years in show-time, considering Bruce’s age in the pilot, but so what? TV shows do that all the time! Both Battlestar Galactica and Lost pulled it off spectacularly.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to tell the ongoing story of Gordon and Bullock slowly learning that there’s a masked vigilante stalking the streets, and then episode-by-episode uncovering more about him? Couple that with Gordon slowly becoming his ally episode-by-episode? The drama and fan-excitement would be through the roof!

Batman is no stranger to TV

And then once you’ve got Batman firmly on Gordon’s side, Gotham could go several more seasons with Batman on the show, and all of the classic villains coming into their own. Of course, the trick would then be finding ways to keep the show about Gordon and Bullock instead of Batman, and for that, the producers and writers would just have to look at the source material.

In Gotham Central the comic, Batman is not the main character. The comic is about the detectives in the Gotham City PD – but Batman’s presence is always felt. He’s always out there solving crimes and doing their job for them, and he’s always on the detectives’ minds. When he does show up, he’s bathed in shadows and isn’t exactly chummy with any of them. That’s how Batman could work in Gotham. The show would still be about the main characters doing their jobs, but now there would be this mysterious masked vigilante hiding in the shadows, helping or hindering their investigations, based on each character’s personal opinion of the Bat. It’s television gold, believe me.

Speaking of the main characters doing their jobs…

5. Law & Order: Gotham City

The Internet beat me to it

My ideal version of Gotham would be as if it were a spin-off to Law & Order or CSI or any of those other police procedural shows. Gotham should feature a ‘crime-of-the-week’ format, only in the weird, horribly corrupt setting of Gotham City. What’s it like investigating a bank robbery when more than half of the police department is corrupt and evidence just so happens to go missing? How do the officers deal with a hostage situation when SWAT is a bunch of trigger-happy gun-nuts? What do you do with the notorious cat burglar who turns out to be a spunky teenager?

Gotham has already cast a pre-Penguin Oswald Cobblepott as a gangster, and his boss, Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith, so obviously the show will feature some serialized storytelling as Gordon and Bullock work to take Mooney down. But the show shouldn’t be about that one criminal and that one case. Gordon and Bullock should be tackling new cases every week like any other police procedural, then the writers need to use the GCPD and Gotham City itself to really spice up the crimes and the crime-fighting.

Who doesn’t love a city with ‘blimps’ in the budget?

The comics have already got a whole cast of corrupt police officers they can choose from, including Detective Flass, Commissioner Gill Loeb and SWAT leader Branden. Put characters like that one the show and really play up the corruption angle, and it’ll be unlike any other cop show on TV. There should be episodes where Gordon and Bullock lose due to that corruption. There should be moments when Gordon and Bullock are stymied because their own agency seems to be working against them. That’s good drama.

Speaking of people working against them…

4. Secret references to the Court of Owls

Won’t be a big blow to the costume budget

The coolest new addition to the Batman mythos in the past decade has been the Court of Owls, created by writer Scott Snyder. The Court is Gotham City’s oldest, most mysterious and most powerful secret society, operating in the shadows and behind the scenes since the city’s founding. Like most secret societies, they exist to control politics, money and the citizenry to get what they want, with help from the Talons, their own personal squadron of assassins. There are even children’s nursery rhymes about the Court, they’re that imbedded in Gotham City’s foundation – at least in the comics.

So why not sprinkle them into the show? Why not start from episode one seeding clues and references to the Court? They don’t need a mention every episode, or even every season. Heck, keep the references to the background at all times. Never have Gordon or Bullock mention them by name. But if they happen to visit a schoolyard, maybe some of the kids in the background are singing the nursery rhyme?

“Beware the Court of Owls…they’ll send the Talon for your head!”

The point would be to fill the show with the sorts of Easter Eggs that fans love nowadays, and require freeze frame to spot, like all the mysteries and clues on Lost. Then some episode in the future, turn the Court of Owls into a storyline. Make them the big bad for a season. They’re compelling villains, and there’s no way a show like Gotham won’t approach secret societies at some point. So why not start from the very beginning and really have some fun with it? That way, the writers don’t have to say somewhere down the line, “Oh yeah, the rumors of the Court have always been around, we’ve just never mentioned them until this episode”.

Speaking of planting seeds for down the line…

3. Harvey Dent, Internal Affairs

Get it? He lived long enough to see himself become the villain

We all know that Harvey Dent is eventually elected District Attorney in Gotham City, and then beyond that he becomes Two-Face. That’s all well and good, but what did he do before all of that? What’s Dent doing in the timeframe of Gotham? Well according to The Dark Knight movie, Dent started out in Internal Affairs, investigating corruption in the GCPD. That’s where he earned the nickname ‘Harvey Two-Face’. So why not add that wrinkle to Gotham? Introduce Harvey Dent as one of Gotham’s honest cops, working IA to try and crack down on corruption within the department. He and Gordon would be on the same team, but their friendship could be prickly, just like in the movie.

I think that would be a great way to include Harvey Dent in the show without falling back on what’s expected. Plus, you could then turn Harvey’s run for DA into a storyline in some future season.

Speaking of important story lines…

2. Gordon’s affair

Mustache rides 4 free

In the comics, Gordon had an affair with fellow officer Sarah Essen. It’s a powerful moment when the normally spick and span Gordon gave in to base human desire and did something bad. Wouldn’t that be perfect character development in an ongoing TV show? To carry the show, Gordon needs to be a complex and interesting person. Yes, he’s going to be true blue when it comes to the badge, but he needs faults. Cheating on his wife would be a great storyline.

We already know that his fiancee Barbara is going to be in the show. That’s fine. But then Gotham just needs to introduce hot, blonde detective Sarah Essen and she can spend a season or two tempting Gordon until he finally gives in and does something the audience might see as reprehensible. It makes him more interesting as a character, and perhaps even more identifiable to the audience. Heroes can make mistakes, heroes can be weak, especially in a place like Gotham City. Even Batman gives in to the temptations of a certain Cat-lady from time to time.

Speaking of circuses….

1. The Haley’s Circus episode

Someday the world will listen to me

Come on! Let me have this one! Circuses are the perfect setting for a done-in-one crime TV show episode. Maybe somebody’s killed the bearded woman. Or an elephant is on a murderous rampage. Who knows? Who cares? Just set one episode of Gotham at Haley’s Circus, and include a cameo appearance by the Flying Graysons trapeze act. Maybe even show their cute, tiny toddler Richard. I don’t think this would be too much to ask. Everybody loves the circus!

Honorable Mention: The Mustache

Here is a picture of Ben Mackenzie, who has been cast as James Gordon.

And here’s a picture of Commissioner Gordon from the comics.

What’s missing?

You’re goddamn right it is!


About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on March 26, 2014, in Batman, DC, Lists of Six!, Robin, Television and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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