Tough times are upon us now that season one of Gotham is over. For a torturous summer we’ll be without ingenious Z-list villains like Balloonman, who deviously hid giant balloons where no one would think to look – in the sky – before handcuffing his victims to them. We’ll miss nuanced characterisation that discreetly foreshadows iconic characters’ futures, such as Selina Kyle only ever drinking milk (because cats drink milk, and she’s going to be Catwoman. GET IT?). Of course, one of the show’s many achievements has been its subtle and gritty depiction of a young Bruce Wayne. Butler and guardian Alfred Pennyworth, heeding the wish of Thomas Wayne that his son should never see a psychiatrist, seemingly decides that after Bruce witnesses his parents’ murder the best course of action is to let the traumatised youth manage his own recovery. This allows Bruce to begin becoming Batman before his voice has even broken, seeking out dangerous tests for his physical endurance, investigating his parents’ murder, and having Alfred school him in fighting techniques (the most effective of which seems to be wrapping a watch around your fist and repeatedly punching your adversary in the face). In tribute to this accomplished reimagining of Bruce, I’ve made a video that I hope captures the character’s depth and complexity.
By James Taylor
Posted in Bits, TV
Tagged Brooding, Bruce Wayne, Dark, Entertainment, Gotham, Ground Breaking, Important, Real Music, TV, Untitled Self Portrait
Oscars season is upon us, and you can almost smell the celluloid wafting on the Winter’s breeze. We caught up with a certain legendary Hollywood producer-mogul, relaxing in a rare moment of calm as he campaigns for the various Oscar-hopeful movies distributed by his company. His name was not recorded in the copy that was filed, and our interviewer was tragically killed later that afternoon – before he could be reached for clarification. His family have requested that this final piece be reproduced in the form it took at the exact moment of his death.
Flipping his double-headed coin, he demands that the kid call it – which, of course, defeats the entire purpose of a double-headed coin by restoring the element of random chance. Where this gets truly, classically “Gotham” is that, although it’s clear the writers realised their mistake, for some reason they decided to leave it in. Instead of simply rewriting the scene, some bright spark inserted a line where Dent reassures us that “they nearly always choose heads” – which, apart from being factually incorrect, leaves us with the bizarre implication that every once in a while Harvey Dent sends some poor kid to prison because they said “tails”.
Fox’s new Batman-ish TV show Gotham just might be the most enjoyable thing on television right now, to a certain type of viewer. If you are the kind of person who slows down as they pass accidents on the motorway, or laughs at YouTube videos of parkour mishaps, this should be the TV event of your century. The giddy schadenfreude of watching as its creators make almost every decision that could be made wrong even wronger – twice – makes Gotham more than just a scientifically fascinating case study in failure. It’s a genuine joy to behold from beginning to end, and although I know it makes me a bad person I just can’t look away.
Posted in Reviews, TV
Tagged Arrow, Bill Cranston, Bruce Wayne, Bruno Heller, Christopher Nolan, Clark Kent, Dark Knight, Gotham, James Gordon, Oliver Queen, Smallville, Superman, The Shield, Thomas Wayne
It’s never easy to give up on a patient, but it’s time for us to admit that The Strain may be too far gone to save. There are several signs in this week’s episode that the show may be giving up the will to live. In one scene, during a vampire attack, we finally glimpse one of the plane survivors who were almost the shows central characters for the first half of the season, before disappearing completely. Reduced to a mindless zombie like all the rest, distinguishable only by his Marilyn Manson fright-wig, he barely registers more than the other extras in the scene, and none of the human characters recognise him before he vanishes again.
B.E. (Before Eyebrows)
The flashbacks of holocaust survivor turned vampire hunter, Abraham Setrakian, remain predictable and unnecessary – although at least his story has moved on a few decades, so we no longer have to add “gratuitously exploitative of holocaust imagery”. The most striking feature of these scenes is the astonishingly bad “age” makeup applied to young actor Jim Watson, in order to indicate that he’s slightly older than in the previous round of flashbacks. To make sure nobody was in any doubt that the actor is playing a younger version of the Setrakian character, Watson is now required to wear a baldcap and receding-hairline-wig – complete with prosthetically wrinkled forehead – neither of which are very convincing. The real tragedy is that, having given him an artificial frowny-face, they then felt they had to go one step further, and replace his eyebrows with what looks like the ghostly, phantasmagorical echo of two caterpillars. Like Romeo and Juliet, these star-cross’d lovers chose to die for and with one another – on his face.
Posted in Reviews, TV
Tagged Abraham Setrakian, Corey Stoll, Ephraim Goodweather, fake eyebrows, Jim Watson, Kevin Durand, Last Rites, Marilyn Manson, Mia Maestro, The Strain
I’m not sure exactly what The Strain is trying to achieve, but I’m getting a lot of enjoyment out of watching it try. It was a strange beast from the first few episodes – starting life as a tense psychological thriller paying subtle homage to Dracula, but transforming quite quickly into a modern-day Dracula which nods vaguely at tense psychological thrillers.
It has been marketed as the brainchild of director Guillermo del Toro, who co-wrote the novels on which it is based – but his practical involvement seems to have begun and ended with the series pilot. It’s a shame he couldn’t stick around, because it’s the kind of collision between grimy reality and fairy-tale fancy which he’s made a career out of bringing to life. Without a guiding vision, the show often feels like it’s coming off the rails.
Utopia was a mixed bag, but nothing in that bag was boring. The much-vaunted cinematography and design, with some great core performances and a haunting electronic soundtrack all conspired to make it a memorable blast of colour. Writer/creator Dennis Kelly wove a story so minimal it provided just the barest amount of substance for all this glorious style to hang off and, based purely on the retro-set first episode of the new series, I think less may have been more.
Posted in Reviews, TV
Tagged Airey Neave, Airey Neave murder, Alexandra Roach, Becky, Carvel, Channel Four, Dennis Kelly, James Fox, Jessica Hyde, Petrie, Resident Evil, Stephen Moffat, strong female characters, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tom Burke, Tomb Raider, Utopia, Utopia series 2