This week featured the first part of the story of Dr. Crane on Fox’s Gotham. Ep. 14 “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” follows the origin of Johnathan Crane’s father, on a murderous journey through Gotham, reaping the adrenal glands of his victims after forcing them to confront their worst fears and die by them. Next week, we will see part 2 of the story.
The problem with Gotham remains… In every episode it feels like a new villain is presented, then dispatched. What Gotham lacks is continuity. Without a subplot truly permeating throughout the season, everything feels a bit disjointed. Gotham is like the kid in class trying too hard to make the other kids like him. Gotham seems willing to adopt any villain with a connection to Batman, thinking that it’s the way to please the DC fans. What they don’t understand is that a slow burn with a long awaited tease and wait can hook a fan even better and will hold them in the long run.
The slow burn, the teasing… that’s what makes Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) work for the show. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) isn’t the anticipated lead the fans are rooting for. It’s Oswald Cobblepot. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) has grown in popularity, as well, as bits of his personality are revealed. The riddles, the awkward interactions, the unrequited love… What Gotham has going for it are the villains who are recognized as humans with motivations fans have always wondered about. Penguin and Riddler are what Gotham does right. In addition, the continuing story between Maroni (David Zayas), Falcone (John Doman), and Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a great ode to the detective base of Batman comics. Batman, without super powers and money, was still an investigator in a gang dominated city.
This week’s episode of Gotham was no different than those of the past. Even worse, this origin story isn’t even an origin story. While we know of Johnathan Crane as Scarecrow, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” isn’t about Johnathan Crane as much as it as about his father. We’re already stretching things a little thin, and then we stretch it even farther. Add to that a dash of a love connection between Gordon and Dr. Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), which certainly can’t be as innocent as it’s cracked up to be, and an overly affectionate public kiss… I just… I can’t.
What I will pay homage to is the creative music of the television show. Last night, ep. 14, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane” made an excellent point of having a theme for each character. Peter and the Wolf is still a musical classic today because each instrument represented a character. This same idea has been applied by the musical composer of Gotham, Graem Revell, who created a particular type of melody for each character as they are shown on screen. This ambitious endeavor has paid off, a remarkable effort clearly summing up the beloved DC characters in a tune.
Gotham has already been confirmed for a second season. The show is trying to find its way, and while some bits are absolutely dreadful, I will give kudos to the writers and creators for attempting to remedy past mistakes. Much like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from Marvel struggled to find its footing during its first season, Gotham may be doing the same.
Keep watching Gotham on Fox on Monday nights. Despite the writing and plot fallacies, the show does exhibit interesting lighting choices, a daring and creative environment creation, and music that is distinct and surprising. Will it be the dark horse of DC comic television shows? Time will tell.