Gotham – The Complete Season 2 boxset (DVD TV series review).

September 25, 2016 | By | Reply More

Considering he’s basically a man dressed as a bat who hits criminals, it’s surprising the myriad of ways in which the Batman mythos can be interpreted. He’s the grim Dark Knight Detective. He’s the campy hero always ready with a can of ‘Bat Anti-Shark Repellent’. He’s the arch manipulator always one step ahead of everyone else. He’s a character which Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan can all direct a movie about, albeit each with varying degrees of success.

gotham-season-2-dvd

TV show ‘Gotham’ has become another way in which the Caped Crusader and his surroundings have been explored. Here the show examines the life of a young Bruce Wayne and the immediate aftermath of his parents’ murder. As he begins to see the path that his life will lead to, a new-to-Gotham police officer by the name of James Gordon vows to see the killers of the Waynes brought to justice. But he soon discovers that the corruption at the heart of the Gotham City Police Department will mean everything will just be that bit harder.

The first season was a clever and often compelling affair. Focussing mainly on James Gordon, the show was mostly situated in the realms of the police procedural, familiar to anyone who has watched ‘CSI’, ‘Law And Order’ or every second TV show that seems to come out of the US nowadays. But with the appearances of early incarnations of soon-to-be Batman foes, such as The Penguin, Catwoman and The Riddler, the show also skirted with the outlandish trappings of the Batman universe. Yet it managed to balance the two well with comicbook and realistic keeping each other in check. The second season of Gotham sees the balance shift as the inherent absurdity of the Batman universe

Subtitled ‘Rise Of The Villains’, the first half of the season focuses on mysterious millionaire Theo Galavan and his evil plans, which include breaking a number of inmates out of Arkham Asylum to do his bidding as he cons Gotham into believing that he is a force for good. The overall arc of the first half of the season is a bit clunky and somewhat drawn out which, all in all, makes everything somewhat of a slog. Galavan’s obsession with Bruce Wayne and need to keep Jim Gordon out of the picture make for a number of convoluted plots which always seems to drag on. There are bright moments, usually when the Galavan plot is relegated to the back seat, such as ‘By Fire’, which introduces a female version of perennial Batman villain Firefly.

Individual character arcs continue to hold the interest. Cory Michael Smith continues to descend into madness as Edward Nygma as he begins his fateful journey to become The Riddler and he lights up the screen every time he appears. However, as good as he is, it is Robin Lord Taylor who steals the entire series as Oswald Cobblepot. Managing to be both repulsive yet sympathetic, his journey to the depths of despair in Season 2 is handled wonderfully. Episodes such as ‘Mommy’s Little Monster’, in which Cobblepot must face a terrible threat to his personal life, allow you to marvel in a nuanced performance from Lord Taylor and applaud the fact that one of Batman’s most hated and sometimes one-dimensional villains is turned into a complex and engaging anti-hero. Later in the season, his character arc continues to be one of the best things about Gotham, including an appearance by his estranged father played by Paul Reubens, a genius bit of casting for those knowing their Tim Burton ‘Batman’ films.

It feels something of a relief when the first half of the season is wrapped up, in an admittedly enjoyable episode entitled ‘Worse Than A Crime’, and we enter the second half, entitled ‘Wrath Of The Villains’.

We’re immediately given some sense of what to expect from the episode simply titled ‘Mr Freeze’. The introduction of the classic Batman character sees the madness of the comicbook world begin to infect the show in a major way. It’s handled effectively with Freeze being given a sympathetic back-story that counterbalances his somewhat silly methods, though his final fate ensures that Freeze will stay one of the more overtly ‘comicbook’ villains in Gotham. When the machinations of Professor Hugo Strange (played with a chilly restraint by BD Wong), which including body snatching and experimenting on corpses, become a focal point of the season it seems clear that Gotham will never be the same again.

Everything seems a lot breezier in the second half of the season, with the plots moving along at a cracking pace and all the disparate elements, including Bruce solving the identity of the person behind the murder of his parents, the true nature of Strange’s experiments and Jim Gordon fighting to keep his moral compass in check work together well.

Aside from the aforementioned Lord Taylor and Smith, Ben McKenzie does a stalwart job holding the show together as Jim Gordon. While his gravelly voice sometimes hits a little close to the ‘Christian Bale growl in the Nolan ‘Batman’ movies’ level, his forthright and uncompromising character provides a welcome juxtaposition to the insanity going on around him. Though the trope of Gordon getting framed and fired is already becoming tiresome and one thinks that’s it not the last time that it’s going to happen to happen to him

Donal Logue provides some much needed levity as Gordon’s cynical yet heroic partner Harvey Bullock, while David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee make a great double-act as Bruce Wayne and Alfred. While the show is currently about the villains, young Bruce’s journey to becoming Batman is becoming more apparent as the series goes on and there are many wonderful moments between Bruce and Alfred on the way.

While slightly disjointed, both in its story arc and tone, ‘Gotham Season 2’ is a continually fascinating delve into the Batman mythos that is starting to build a consistently compelling universe. If Season 3, due to air soon, can find the right balance between all the elements that it wants to explore, then it should become something close to ‘must watch’ TV for all Batfans out there. Certainly, the final episode of Season 2 promises a whole new and dangerous world for Season 3.

The Box Set comes with some OK featurettes. ‘Alfred: Batman’s Greatest Ally’ is a nice look at Sean Pertwee’s take on the character while ‘Cold Hearted: The Tale Of Victor Fries’ looks at the origins of Mr Freeze. There’s also a look at the film noir look at Gotham and, naturally, a panel from the San Diego Comic Con, the go-to place for all your DVD extra needs.

Laurence Boyce

September 2016

(region 2 DVD: pub: Warner Home Video. 6 disc DVD 959 minutes 22 * 44 minute episodes. Price: £17.99 DVD. ASIN: B018SBS8T2

Blu-ray: 5 discs 959 minutes. Price: £ 21.99 (UK). ASIN: B018SBS8W4)

cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Sean Pertwee, David Mazouz, Morena Baccarin, Corey Michael Smith, Robin Lord Taylor and BD Wong,

check out website: www.warnerbros.co.uk/

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Category: Superheroes, TV

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About the Author ()

Laurence Boyce is a film journalist who likes Bond, Batman and Doctor Who (just to prove the things he enjoys things that don't just start with a 'B'). He is also a film programmer for various film festivals in the UK and abroad.

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