Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reflections on a Dark City

Wanta hear a joke?

Speaking of writing, I have to include this post from a while back about my favorite TV show, Gotham. The writing is without peer.
I’ve been reading comics for fifty-plus years, and Batman has always been one of my favorites. I’ve bounced from The Flash to Superman to Batman as far as which has been my go-to comic. Batman would be my top pick, because he’s a regular Joe. No super-powers--just discipline, developing himself to the peak of his physical and mental abilities, and some cool technology.

One thing I haven't read much about in the comics is the story behind Gotham, the city. Why and how it got that way. That’s what the show Gotham does for us. It’s not about Batman. In fact, most of the time I forget that it has anything to do with Batman. Yes, we have the young Bruce Wayne, but this is long before he wears the cape and cowl. One of the elements I like is how they’re focusing on Bruce’s developing detective skills. Detective Comics. DC. Remember? At one time, lost in the dusty past, one of Batman’s taglines was “The world’s greatest detective.” Somehow that got pushed aside over the years, placing more emphasis on his martial skills, or his access to extreme technology. Some of my favorite scenes in Gotham are of Bruce poring over bits of printed material at his super-sized desk, or drawing inferences from the photos and clippings on his bulletin board. I’m not seeing him use tech a lot yet. He’s doing it the old tried-and-true way, going full-on Sherlock.

Normally I don’t get into series-based shows. The ongoing situations that never end. And, over time, I’ve seen all kinds of plot situations and devices, so it’s hard to surprise me with anything. So, true, we know Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, and *** Spoiler Alert*** Ed Nygma, the quirky analyst at GCPD, eventually becomes The Riddler, Cat becomes Catwoman, Ivy transforms into Poison Ivy, etc. What I love are the characters and the way each actor brings something new to the table. I love watching the new and entertaining interpretations on our eventual major/minor players, and how they interact with each other. So, for me, it’s about slipping into a familiar world, but with something new added.

In fact, one of the logos for Gotham on Facebook has pictures of Jim Gordon in the top-left corner, Selina Kyle (Cat) in top-right, Fish Mooney at bottom-right, and The Penguin at bottom-left, with the word ‘GOTHAM’ in the middle. No picture of Bruce Wayne or Alfred. This is a dark, edgy police drama with backbone, plus some quirks, and a hint of the supernatural (or unnatural).

The city itself is a major player, providing us with dark alleys, waterfronts, and speakeasies. When’s the last time you’ve heard the word ‘speakeasy’? That’s another interesting take on the show. It’s set current day, but it has a noir-ish, pulp-detective novel feel that runs deep. One of my favorite characters is Detective Harvey Bullock, played with a 1930s/1940s style by Donal Logue. His signature leather jacket and hard-bitten P. I. fedora is a direct pipeline to Sam Spade or Mike Hammer. He’s a borderline burned-out cop who’s learned how to walk the edge. Heart of gold beneath that tarnished exterior.

Keep writing, friends.

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