Monday, 28 March 2016

Gotham: Season 1.5

The war for control of Gotham City between the Falcone and Maroni families is heating up, with events manipulated from behind the scenes by the Penguin. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon finds himself demoted for annoying the upper echelons of the police force too many times.

The first half of Gotham's first season stumbled a few times, but by its conclusion had developed into a watchable game of factional intrigue and warfare for control of Gotham City. The city was given a real sense of identity and character missing from the Nolan films (in which it could be anywhere), the actors were pretty decent and Bruno Heller seemed to, after a delayed start, beging Gotham in a similar direction to his fantastic HBO series, Rome.

Unfortunately, the second half of the season doesn't just undo all that work, it blows it to smithereens and then pretends it never existed in the first place. The second half of Gotham's first season is terrible, a plunge in quality that is quite remarkable. Characters act without explicable motivation, things happen that don't make any sense and a character pulls out her own eyeball to spite an enemy (she gets a bionic robot one later on, so there is no real consequence to this madness). There are plot holes you can drive a tractor through, the Penguin is caught out as a traitor to both sides and spared for literally no reason and the series, as a whole, develops an allergic reaction to sensible, rational plotting.

There are glimmers of hope here and there: Alfred gets a lot more to do and Sean Pertwee impresses as always, Morena Baccarin has a recurring role and the mob storyline (apart from Fish Mooney) is intermittently interesting, mainly thanks to John Doman's statesmanlike, grounded performance. The evolution of the Riddle is also reasonably well-handled, helped by it being fairly low-key.

But these signs of hope can't help the muddled plotting, indifferent dialogue and increasingly bizarre story turns that smack of executive meddling and poor decision-making. If the first half of Gotham's first season opened with a lot of promise, it has squandered almost all of it by the end of the second half (**).

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