No “POW” or “ZING” bubbles for this series…
I am sure there are some of you out there that still enjoy watching reruns of the Adam West TV series from the 1960’s. I include myself in that camp, as I have fond memories of my Father channel surfing and landing on that instantly recognizable intro. I still have weekends where, if the mood strikes me, I’ll pop in the ridiculously campy Batman and Robin theatrical film on DVD (which is 50% serious, 50% shark repellant). Now, going on 50 years later, we’re getting what could be our first truly legit Batman series for the small screen.
Striking just the right tone for a show like this is key. Walking a fine line between equal parts gothic comic and CSI cop drama is paramount. To be fair, at the time of the original campy 60’s series, Batman didn’t have the edge he does now (nor do I think the producers even thought to go in that direction). It wasn’t until the combo of Burton/Keaton (pulling inspiration from The Dark Knight Returns) did we see the contemporary version of what we know as Batman today. Luckily, the upcoming series knows its bread and butter rests on it tapping into this darker mythos, as recently cast actor Donal Logue revealed in an interview. Taking on the role of Harvey Bullock, Logue explains that the Gotham City we’ll see in the new series may be very reminiscent of the animated series in a lot of ways (with its design rooted in both early 1900’s architecture while infusing an edge of futuristic technology). “It has this anachronistic element to it where it feels like it’s either New York in the '70s, or it kind of exists independently of time and space in a way…There were a couple of examples of modern technology, but maybe an antiquated version of it, that gave me a little bit of sense that it’s certainly not the '50s and the '60s.” Logue describes.
While I remain optimistic, there are a few concerns that give me pause.
Which concerns you might ask? How about every other superhero TV show currently on television? There is such an influx of mediocre series featuring masked comic characters that, frankly, the idea is getting a bit diluted. From the Arrow, to Agents of Shield, to the latest iteration of the Flash currently in development (need I mention Birds of Prey?), I have to wonder how much of this they can churn out before audiences just get overloaded and lose interest. None of the shows I listed above are particularly great television and likely won’t last past season three or four (Agents of Shield has an unfair advantage because of its Avengers tie-in). The biggest success in the history of superheros TV shows was Smallville. Problem is, aside from it playing like a DC version of Dawson’s Creek, it screwed the mythology up so bad that I felt like choking Lex Luthor with his overpriced tie on more than one occasion.
However, Gotham may have one aspect going for it that could spell long-term success. Along with the huge wave of popularity the license is riding high on after Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (in addition to the upcoming Batman/Superman film), Gotham doesn’t directly focus on Batman at all. While telling the origins tale of many familiar characters, it will primarily focus on a younger James Gordon. This, combined with the mantle of the Bat foreshadowing the events to come, could mean we have a neat little drama on our hands.
And who knows, when this series ends, could it segue into a new Year One Batman spin-off? A fan can only hope.