Gotham

MAN OF STEEL

I want to say I’m sorry. I am one of the many who loved the beginning of Man of Steel enough to say I’d watch a whole movie set on Krypton. Those scenes felt like a new Star Wars episode when they arrived last summer. It was a thrill. But then so did parts of Thor: The Dark World and then Guardians of the Galaxy,and now we’re seeing footage from an actual new Star Wars episode coming soon, and the Man of Steel space opera opening just isn’t as special anymore. I no longer need a feature-length Kryptonian prequel. And I certainly don’t want a television series-length Kryptonian prequel. But reportedly there’s one of the latter in development at SyFy from Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer. Am I partly to blame for maybe somewhere writing or tweeting about wanting something like this? If so, I apologize. Of course, the success of Gotham is likely more to do with it. That show is about Batman‘s world before Batman exists. Krypton will somewhat similarly be about Superman‘s world before Superman exists. Unlike with Gotham, there will not be a young Superman floating around, occasionally appearing as a reminder that it’s tangentially his origin story while also, more superficially, the start of many of his eventual nemeses. Kal-El, as he’s born on Krypton, quickly departs his planet within his first days of life. We can bet, however, that the show will still offer up some Superman bad guys in their early days, as a few are from or have […]

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Fox Television

Our recap of last week’s Gotham was absorbed into last week’s Thanksgiving break. But we were a group of (as was implied) Winnie the Poohs snuggled into our beds for a holiday hibernation, so chances are you wouldn’t have even wanted to read what I had to say last week. Mostly, it would have been sleepy half-thoughts and typos where too much hunny was gunked into the keyboard. Since last week, we’ve pulled a switcheroo. Here at FSR, we’re wide-eyed and ready to go, but Gordon and Penguin and Sal Maroni just settled into their periwinkle nightgowns for a winter’s rest. Last week was the Gotham mid-season finale, and that means no new episodes until an undisclosed date in early 2015. So let’s make the best of what we’ve got. While the show’s napping, we’ll take a look at how Gotham has progressed; what’s changed, what hasn’t changed (and probably should), and what we’d like to see when Gotham wakes from its slumber for another half-season of Batman-tinged cop drama.

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Gotham Harvey Dent

Hey, isn’t this supposed to be Gotham? The Gotham that’s “not a city for nice guys?” The Gotham with a golden rule of “no heroes?” The Gotham overrun with thugs, crime lords, and crazies a few years away from donning colorful crime suits? Well, in “Harvey Dent,” evil takes a backseat. To the smiles and laughter of children, playful bagel fights and puppy love. It’s weird. But not entirely bad-weird (or bad-weird at all, really; it’s actually quite nice). Selina Kyle, as both a key witness in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne and a ruffian hoofin’ it on the streets, has been sequestered by Gordon in lavish Wayne Manor for her own sake. At first, stashing a petty thief in the most lavish fictional home on television goes as terribly as you’d think — while Selina doesn’t outright steal anything (oddly admirable of her), she doesn’t fit in at all. She snaps at Bruce, manhandles a Ming vase and sets Alfred into a pissed-off, barking-orders mood just by existing anywhere near him. At least, until Bruce and Selina click. Chuck a bagel or two at each others’ heads and suddenly they’re the best of friends; even if she’s all street smarts and he’s all book smarts, or even if she keeps taunting him with a kiss he won’t receive for several episodes, probably.

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Gotham The Mask

Ah, the white collar world. An endless array of identical suits and identical ties and identical jobs; people who make phone calls, clack away on keyboards, and whose job descriptions all involve something vaguely financial. But just under the surface is a simmering vat of violent tendencies, bursting forth in an underground society where people beat the hell out of each other on a regular basis. This of course, would be Fight Club. Also, Gotham. At least for about an hour last night. The police procedural chunk of this week’s Gotham (titled “The Mask”) was it’s own little mini-Fight Club. White collar schmucks in suits and suspenders, bashing on each other with office supplies. Until one of them ends up dead in a trash heap, thus attracting the attention of Gordon and Bullock. Well, technically it’s not quite Fight Club; instead of fighting to relieve the pent-up frustration of modern living, these guys brawl to get into the corporate world. Perhaps a Boiler Room or Glengarry Glen Ross reference would have fit more snugly (but those movies don’t have as much punching in them).

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Gotham Penguins Umbrella

Finally! The moment we’ve all been waiting for: an episode of Gotham where not only did Detective James Gordon avoid being the least captivating character in Gotham‘s menagerie of crooks and carnival freaks, he might have actually been the most captivating. It’s a fabulous day. “Penguin’s Umbrella” begins its happy trail to a better, bolder Gordon by tossing aside Gotham‘s usual “case of the week, plus assorted mafia intrigue” format. Instead, it’s all organized crime, all the time. Which affects less than you might think, given that every single character on Gotham has at least one tie to the mob underworld, and “Penguin’s Umbrella” can still drop in a new Batman villain in the guise of a Falcone goon we’ve never seen until just now.

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Gotham Spirit of the Goat

Week in and week out, Donal Logue has been fighting a frenzied competition with Robin Lord Taylor for ‘Most Compellingly Weird Gotham Character.’ Normally, he loses. Harvey Bullock’s great and all (with more streetwise detective backsass than Lennie Briscoe), but beating Taylor’s Penguin in a weird-off is just not feasible. Still, Penguin is regularly given large portions of each episode to himself, while Bullock is relegated to snide remarks and occasionally playing counterpoint to Jim Gordon’s achingly moral hero cop. Not this week, though. “Spirit of the Goat” is Bullock’s moment in the sun; a moment richly deserved, and perhaps even the first step towards the Hero Bullock we’re all assuming will happen at some point (“hero,” in this case, meaning “non-Mafia-affiliated”). We open on a much younger Bullock and his previous partner, Dix (Dan Hedaya, an always-reliable source of authority with a slight hint of wiseguy), and much to our surprise, Bullock’s the Gordon and Dix is the Bullock. That is, Bullock’s the idealist, ready to charge into battle (“a white knight,” as Dix puts it) while Dix is the voice of reason, always ready to squash young Bullock’s dreams with Gotham City’s golden rule: “no heroes.” And on the hunt for a particularly nasty serial killer who calls himself the Spirit of the Goat, Bullock acts the fool and rushes in, leaving Dix to come to the rescue, giving him a pair of busted gams in the process. But at least the Goat was put down for good.

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Viper Gotham

It had to happen sometime: “Viper” has brought superpowers to Gotham. A superhero show without superpowers is like a carrot cake without luscious cream cheese frosting, and when it comes to Gotham, we’ve been eating our cake dry for far too long. Here’s the deal. A guy by the name of Stan has been distributing a new wonderdrug among the homeless of Gotham. It comes in a cute little mini-bottle imprinted with the words “BREATHE ME.” Follow its advice, and you’ll gain a few hours of unbelievable super-strength. Do whatever you want with those few hours. Snap baseball bats in half like twigs. Hurl a pile of policemen off of you in dramatic fashion. Drink your weight in dairy products. Your choice. Then, when the allotted hours are up, your bones crumble apart and you die in agony. Naturally, Gordon, Bullock and the rest of GCPD would prefer a population with regular human strength and intact bones, so they spend most of “Viper” trying to get the stuff off the streets.

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Gotham Arkham

Gotham‘s begun to develop an odd pattern. Just as “Selina Kyle” used Selina Kyle as a minor cog in a much larger machine, this week’s “Arkham” is only a little bit about comicdom’s most iconic loony bin. There was about as much actual Arkham Asylum in “Arkham” as there were women dressed as cats in “Selina Kyle” (really, just that one poor schmoe who ended up barbecued outside the gates), but to a lesser degree, a fair chunk of the episode was rooted in the Arkham landgrab. Politician killing (the Arkham vote machine) and shoring up mob cred still count. So in honor of “Arkham,” let’s dig into the history behind this most spookiest of mental institutions. This October, amazingly enough, is the 40th anniversary of Arkham Asylum. It was in October of 1974 that the jumbo, 100-page “Batman #258” hit the stands, an issue comprised mostly of old re-run stories from the ’50s, but also a new tale entitled “The Threat of the Two-Headed Coin.” Written by Denny O’Neil and with art by Irv Novick, the story introduced us to one Arkham Hospital (named after the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts, frequent monster spot in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft), where both Two-Face and some nobody named General Harris were being housed. Harris’s cronies break in and free him — at which point Harris demonstrates why he was a generic villain no one remembers, and invites the clearly insane Two-Face to be a part of his coup. Naturally, the coup […]

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Gotham The Balloonman

Sometimes you see something on TV, and one tiny little thing — a name or a face — juts out. Then at some indeterminate point in the future, another indeterminate detail and another mind-jut. Synapses start firing, pieces come together an odd TV bloodlust sets in, and suddenly you’ve figured it all out. You know the twist that’s sure to come, thanks to the entirely crackpot theory that seems so very real when formed in the midst of conspiracy frenzy. I will admit that this was me last week. A character named Lazlo and a pig mask in a trailer, and I was sold — clearly, this week’s Gotham was bound to feature Professor Pyg, a Batman villain sporting a pink piggy face and the first name of Lazlo. A villain who, it turns out, has basically nothing to do with “The Balloonman.” My bad on that one, guys. Instead, this third hour of Gotham was all about… the Balloonman. Who’da thunk it?

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Fox

Calling the second episode of Gotham “Selina Kyle” is just a wee bit disingenuous. It’s not so much a Selina Kyle episode- for one thing, she refuses to be called Selina Kyle, and any attempt to say those words around her will cause an immediate correction with the proper nomenclature: “cat.” Expecting “Selina Kyle” to include any in-depth look at a young Catwoman’s psyche is a fool’s game. This one’s not about our future clawed criminal; it just happens to involve her, as a victim of our Batman villain of the week (even if it seemed like Gotham wouldn’t be doing that). Like last time, Gordon and Bullock take the lead, on the trail of the little-known, little-seen, probably-murderous Dollmaker. So yeah, kind of a misnomer with the “Selina Kyle” thing.

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Gotham

There’s an age-old debate in the Batman mythos: Does Batman really stop crime? Or does the very presence of Batman, a man gallivanting around in bat ears and a cape, attract costumed criminals that wouldn’t have shown up in the first place, thus doing more harm than good? Gotham, Fox’s shiny new Batman prequel series, set in the grimy corruption of the Gotham City Police Department, throws all this good/evil Bat-debate in the trash. “Nope!” it proclaims, fancifully showing off a parade of before-they-were-villain villains, “Freaks were running around Gotham and committing meticulous theme-based crimes long before Batman ever started doing the same.” That’s already par for the course on Gotham, a prequel interested in a new take — a Batmanless take — on Batman. It will pursue that newness to any end, even if it means scrapping the subtlety and the blurred lines of good and evil that are present in just about every Batman story.

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FOX

The annual passing of Labor Day is more than just a reminder that your favorite shows will be premiering again soon, it’s also a time to rid yourself of seasons and series past, opening up space on both your DVR and in your heart for new shows. Unfortunately, there’s not much this year premiering on promising cable channels like FX and AMC, but there is still a legion of network series vying for your attention. We’ve skimmed through them all and selected the most promising. Get ready to open up that heart of yours.

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Godzilla Gotham

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Baby Catwoman in Gotham

Remember that scene in the middle of The Dark Knight Rises where Batman and Catwoman are riding in a horse-drawn carriage through Robinson Park? She says, “I wish we had met sooner. Just imagine: wouldn’t that have been wonderful if we had known each other when we were little? Little Bruce-y and little Selin-y.” And then there was the flashback dream sequence to when they were in a nursery as babies together. And now we’ve got a whole show spun-off from that scene. It’s called Gotham, because “Batman Babies” wouldn’t have been as cool. And it features a little Bruce-y and a little Selin-y, plus a little Ossie and a little Eddie and a little Pammy and a little Jimmy. At least that’s how it feels. In reality, the upcoming series (which has just been picked up for a full season) that looks at Gotham City before Bruce Wayne grew up to be Batman is about a tradition and a trend. The former goes back many decades with comic books, as most popular characters have had “lil” and “baby” incarnations. Even Bat-Baby existed for an issue in 1962. The latter is the soon-to-be-over-saturated concept of giving movie villains their own prequel TV shows. There’s Hannibal and Bates Motel already. Oh, and it fits in line with the already over-saturating idea of filling the TV channels with superheroes. 

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Agents of SHIELD Cast

While doing press for the Fargo series, Billy Bob Thornton was asked over and over again why he decided to give TV a try. His answers tend to sum up two main thoughts that he has about the small screen right now: this new wave of great television mirrors the 1990s independent film movement, and currently this is really the only place for adult dramas and comedies. He’s right, and he’s certainly not the first person to say it. Movies for grown-ups are hard to come by at the multiplex, and when they do arrive they don’t do very well  (a lot of them don’t deserve to do well, either). Meanwhile, we’ve got smart and sexy programming up the wazoo on cable and occasionally network TV. Fargo is yet another in the pile that has included True Detective, Top of the Lake, Game of Thrones, Louie, Veep, House of Cards, Girls, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc. Everyone knows all about all that. Even though they’re nothing new, Thornton’s comments had me thinking about why those kinds of movies for adults disappeared from theaters. The easy answer is that fewer adults were going to the movies and the lack of a large audience made those kinds of releases unprofitable. And that’s made more room for superhero movies, which are all over the place these days. I don’t think the superheroes chased out the serious drama stuff, which hasn’t completely left movie theaters, and of course each type still has its own season — superheroes in the summertime; awards fodder in […]

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david mazouz and camren bicondova

Young Master Wayne and Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman, have been chosen for Fox’s Batman prequel, Gotham. David Mazouz will play the tragedy-stricken Bruce, shortly after the murder of his parents and now under the care of Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Mazouz is best known for his role in Fox’s short-lived, ASCAP Award-winning sci-fi series Touch alongside Keifer Sutherland and Danny Glover. That show managed two seasons before being cancelled. Portraying pre-Catwoman Selina will be Camren Bicondova, a relative newcomer to Hollywood, whose major claim to fame is being a runner-up on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew with her group, 8 Flavahs. She has also appeared in small roles in the horror flick Girlhouse and Cinedigm’s dance drama Battlefield America. Bicondova’s role as Selina will be as another orphaned teenager, well on her way to master thief as an expert pickpocket living on the streets of Gotham.

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Culture Warrior

Part of the appeal of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films is that the basic conceit informing their aesthetic seems so natural. Batman is one of few major superheroes that isn’t actually a super-hero. Batman mythology, then, lends itself to a degree of plausibility more than, say, Superman or Spider-Man, so why not manifest a vision of Batman that embraces this particular aspect that distinguishes this character from most superhero mythologies? But realism has not been a characteristic that unifies Batman’s many representations in the moving image. Through the eyes of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher, the Batman of tentpole studio filmmaking has occupied either a world of gothic architecture and shadowy noir, or one of schizophrenic camp. From 1989 to 1997, Batman was interpreted by visionary directors with potent aesthetic approaches, but approaches that did not necessarily aim to root the character within a landscape of exhaustive Nolanesque plausibility.

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Culture Warrior

Enduring cultural figures like Batman endure precisely because of the slight but notable changes they incur over time. Batman has had a long history in the moving image, and while the character has maintained both the central conceit of being a crime-fighting detective, the cinematic Batman of seventy years ago bears little resemblance to the Batman we’re familiar with today. The character and his myth have been interpreted with variation by a multitude of creative persons other than Bob Kane and Bill Finger. In the moving image, Batman has been embodied by a range of actors including Robert Lowery, Adam West, and George Clooney, and Batman has been realized by directors and showrunners prone to various tastes and aesthetic interpretations like William Dozier and Christopher Nolan. While Batman is perhaps best-known by a non-comic-astute mass culture through the many blockbuster feature films made about him, including this summer’s hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the character’s cinematic origins are rooted in the long-dead format of the movie serial. Batman first leapt off the page in a 15-part serial made in 1943 titled Batman and another six years later titled Batman and Robin. These serials did not influence Batman’s later cinematic iterations realized by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher as much as they inspired Batman’s representation on television. Batman’s presence in film serials and on television have had a decisive and important impact in terms of how mass audiences perceive the Batman of feature films. At the same time, these serials […]

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Movie News: Dredd

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. That is all. We begin this evening with a look at Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd, the revival of the Judge Dredd franchise. First impressions: Karl Urban’s helmet is huge and Olivia Thirlby needs more leather. Or something along those lines. Either way, it’s a good conversation starter.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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