Blogging A to Z Day 8: Gotham

#AOkay, there are a lot of comic book shows on the air right now, with more on the way! The one departing the most from its comic source material, however, is probably Gotham. This is a show about the city of Gotham before the Batman – about a young detective Jim Gordon, and his cases. So instead of being a Batman crimefighting show, it’s another police procedural – there’s a lot of those on TV right now as well! They’re trying to tap into two TV themes at once, it would seem.

I used this on another review over at Comparative Geeks.

I used this on another review over at Comparative Geeks.

The case they opened with was the most obvious: the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. With this case, we quickly get to see the corruption at the heart of Gotham city, and see the good cop Gordon at work. However, we also quickly get to see some of the show’s greatest limitations – limitations that I think will make Gotham a show that only has a few seasons in it, unless they make some big changes.

One is the obvious: with young Bruce Wayne in the show, we have placed the show in time. Batman is an adult, even if a young adult – so the show is years from having Batman on it, if it ever does. Which is okay – they seem to have purposefully made this a Batman show without Batman in it. However, they have to keep it an interesting Batman show without Batman in it, because what they don’t have is the option to bail themselves out by having Batman show up!

The other limitation becomes apparent the more of the show you watch. Increasingly, they are adding and including known Batman villains, either in their young incarnations (roughly the same age as young Bruce) or are including them more as adults at Gordon’s age. They run the risk of having included basically every Batman character except Batman within a few seasons – at which point, what do you do?

There’s a deeper problem with this, about Batman lore and some of the bigger-named Batman comics, like The Dark Knight Returns (which our kind host here on Sourcerer reviewed over on Comparative Geeks, and then I did too!). In these comics, as well as in movie representations like The Dark Knight, there is a gnawing doubt, a question – are there all of these crazy super-villains because of Batman, or is there Batman because of them? The answer in the comics tends towards Batman as the cause, like the Joker argues in The Dark Knight. However, the show Gotham is definitely setting up a city where the super villains are all there and waiting, and the city desperately needs a Batman.

A Batman who won’t be showing up to save them…

This post is by @CompGeeksDavid of the Comparative Geeks and regular Sourcerer contributor. For more A to Z geekery, check out Comparative Geeks!

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Thursday Thirteen: TV Shows I Wish I had Time to Blog

The Thursday Thirteen is a meme-type post invented by PartTimeMonster. It’s a freestyle feature. Just blog about 13 things and make them into a coherent list, is the game. I think of it as a Top Ten Tuesday and a weekend coffee post rolled into one, only published on Thursday. And why 13? Because Diana, iconoclast that she is, thinks of 13 as a lucky number. She even made us a graphic:

thursday-thirteen-logo1

Here are 13 TV shows I’d blog if I had the time to do it. I’m behind on some of them, but I love them all.

1. Hell on Wheels (AMC). A former Mississippi plantation owner goes west after the war on a quest for revenge and becomes an important player in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. It’s as gritty and violent as a basic cable tv show can be, but the violence is never gratuitous. The cast is stellar and the writers make the most of them. This is one of those shows I just don’t miss.

bwempire2. Boardwalk Empire (HBO). Prohibition-era gangsters. Steve Buscemi. That’s all I really need to say about it. I’ve followed this show from the beginning, and it’s my favorite HBO offering since Deadwood. I’m eager to see how this final season turns out, and trying to figure out where I’m going to get my gangster fix once it’s done.

3. Da Vinci’s Demons (STARZ). Follows the intrigues and adventures of Leonardo Da Vinci and Lorenzo di Medici. The production isn’t as good as most of the other shows on the list, but the acting is fantastic and the stories are interesting. I binged on the latest season a couple of weeks ago, and I want more already. If you have STARZ and you haven’t checked out their original programming, they’re definitely worth a look.

4. Justified (FX). Crime drama based on Elmore Leonard characters set in Harlan County, Kentucky. This is another one I’ve followed from the beginning. Its quality is uneven, but Timothy Olyphant and and Walton Goggins more than make up for that. I’m looking forward to the final season and hoping for an appropriate ending. It has the best theme music on television:

5. Sons of Anarchy (FX). All about the family and criminal drama of a gun-running outlaw motorcycle club from northern California. It’s set in the same continuity as The Shield, which makes it even more interesting. Its only weaknesses are that Charlie Hunnam has never really been convincing as Jax Teller, and it’s not the same show without Ron Perlman. The final season is shaping up to be a barn-burner. I’m hoping we get another show set in the same continuity once it’s done.

6. The Walking Dead (AMC). I missed the second half of the last season, so I’m behind. Sometimes TWD is my favorite show. Sometimes I wonder why I’m still watching. It’s definitely bloggable, though, and it’s been more good that bad so far. I’m looking forward to the new season and I am trying to find the time to get caught up.musketeers

7.  Musketeers (BBC). A standard action-adventure drama about Dumas’ Musketeers, with Peter Capaldi as Richelieu. It’s sometimes funny and sometimes tense, but there’s always a sword fight brewing. If you enjoy character-driven action/adventure, this one is for you. They also have cool pistols.

8. House of Cards (Netflix). Kevin Spacey is a Congressman. A ruthless and powerful Congressman. He doesn’t get on well with the President. He has an equally ruthless and powerful wife (Robin Wright). Based on a BBC miniseries with the same title. I’ve only seen the first season because I don’t have a subscription to Netflix. If you’re in the same boat as me with Internet subscription services, this is the best show you’ve never seen. I’m hoping to pay my sister a visit at some point and binge on the latest season.

9. Orphan Black (BBC). A sci-fi show about clones, all played by Tatiana Maslany, who does an awesome job with the character acting. I missed the second season, but I’m hoping to catch up before the third one airs next year.

10. Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC). I’ve only seen a couple of episodes, but I was so impressed I put it near the top of my “to watch” list. AMC really does know drama. I’m interested to see how this one plays with the wider audience, and I hope it survives. I’m already thinking of it as a too-good-to miss program.

11. Penny Dreadful (Showtime). This is another one I missed entirely, but Diana reviewed every episode here and she sold me. This is another one I need to catch up on if I ever get the blogs far enough ahead to take a television weekend.

blacksails12. Black Sails (STARZ). I started the first season couple of weeks ago because, strangely, I was out of free things to watch. It’s a pirate drama featuring a few of Stevenson’s Treasure Island characters, some historic pirates, and a well-armed Spanish treasure galleon for them to hunt. Acting and production are superb. I’m hoping STARZ doesn’t cancel it.

13. Gotham (Fox). Crime drama focusing on the origins of well-known supervillains from the DC Universe. I watched the first episode out of curiosity. It’s too early to give an opinion for certain, but it looks like a show I could get hooked on and the early reviews are positive.

Honorable mentions: Ripper Street (BBC), The Americans (AMC), Masters of Sex (Showtime), Ray Donovan (Showtime), Vikings (The History Channel)