Gotham- “Viper”, “Spirit of the Goat”, “Penguin’s Umbrella” and “The Mask”

Suddenly, the show’s representation of Victor Zsasz looks positively adorable.

Nope, won’t have time for the blurb, let’s get straight to my ratings.

“Viper”- 2.5/5

Spirit of the Goat”- 3.5/5

“Penguin’s Umbrella”- 4/5

“The Mask”- 4/5

Huh. Gotham has finally managed to put together a short streak of not only decent, but genuinely good episodes? There may yet be hope of me going on to review season two!!!!

Also, sorry about the half-assed post, but four episodes is a ton to write about I tried several different drafts, but none of them were panning out, so I’ll just timidly shrink back to the “one review every two weeks” format (That goes for The Flash and Korra as well).

I’ve also finished a rough draft of something brand new (That isn’t a goddamn review) that I’m really excited to put out there. Not that I don’t love doing reviews, but if anybody read this blog, I bet they would be tired of reviews at this point, and… Yeah, I’d be lying if I said they’re the thing I most look forward to upon waking up in the morning.

bf7d3-deathlist2b5

By the way, this photo is your one hint about what’s coming up next (Besides reviews, I mean).

 

Gotham- “The Balloonman” and “Arkham”

Nerdgasm imminent.

 Okay, so we’re officially four episodes into Gotham, so, going by general television rules of thumb, we should have a pretty good handle on what exactly this show is about. And so far, Gotham has been pretty….. All over the map, to say the least. So far, it’s been two good episodes (The pilot and “Arkham”) and two mediocre episodes (“Selina Kyle” and “The Balloonman”). Since we’re around this TV milestone, I figured I’d use this entry not so much to focus on the two recent episodes, but to underline one strengths, one weakness and one mediocre trait that the show has displayed so far. I’ll still talk about the individual episodes, but… Yeah, I guess you get the idea.

Strength: Cinematography

The Tim Burton Batman movies and the Christopher Nolan trilogy both had different ideas on what the look of Gotham City should be. Burton definitely had a ton of creative input in his movies, especially Batman Returns, as his Gotham is appealingly ugly and highly stylised. One could almost say it’s more faithful to the comics, but that would imply that Burton actually read the comics, which he didn’t.  Nolan’s Gotham always reminded me of the rust belt, matching the gritty, realistic tone of the movies. Gotham successfully succeeds in combining the best elements of both Gothams to create a city that looks to be straight off the pages of DC Comics. Props to whoever was in charge of that.

Weakness: Tone

Oh boy, oh boy. Holy shit does this show have some problems here.

With the exception of the Nolan movies, which were ultra-modern, and the ultra campy iterations, Batman stories have always had somewhat of a timeless feel to it. The 1989 movie brought a lot of fashion, images and dialects straight from the early-to-mid 20th century, as did the animated series, mixing them with more modern technologies like literally anything in Batman’s utility belt. It may not have made the most sense when you think about it, but hey, it was charming, or at least I found it to be.

How quaint!!!

While I also really enjoyed the tone of the new movies, and the campy movies had…. Actually they all sucked, but my point is that Gotham tries way too hard to be a balanced mix of all of these styles, which just ends up coming across as stilted and jarring. At times, it wants to be very dark and realistic, but there are other times when the over-the-top villains and cartoonish violence just take me out of it (I’m looking at you, Balloonman. Jesus Christ, wasn’t that a fucking stupid concept?). Black comedy and camp can be put to good use, but that’s not really the case in this show.

Ugh….

Meh…: Acting/Characters 

I should be the first to admit that I was a little high on the actors in my review of the pilot episode. And I’ve still gotta be honest, I haven’t seen a straight-up bad performance just yet. Robin Lord-Taylor as Penguin is still my favourite performance, even if his arc is really improbable. I really like John Doman in the limited screen time he gets as Carmine Falcone, as is Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth. I also really like Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue, even if McKenzie can sometimes be overly stoic for my taste. Jada Pinkett-Smith as Fish Mooney and Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma are also fine, even if neither has done much, and the showrunners can’t seem to help drilling the fact that Nygma becomes the Riddler into our brains ever so much.

A lot of the characters just seem to be there for the sake of being there, though. Montoya, Allen and Barbara are all boring as hell. I have yet to feel a twinge of interest towards any of them. And, while they aren’t bad actors per se, I would argue that they’re better than most other child actors out there, David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, respectively, jus don’t have interesting enough stories for me to really get invested.

***

That’s all for now. Hopefully the show picks up, because at the rate it’s going, it’ll fall off of my review list after this season. This last episode was better than the two before it though, so maybe that’s a sign it’s trending in the right direction? I sure hope so.

“The Balloonman”: 2.5/5

“Arkham”: 3.5/5

The season so far: 6.5/10 

How My TV Reviews Work

Still the best TV show within a TV show ever.

So, I’ve officially been reviewing television shows for about three weeks and, needless to say, I haven’t been doing a great job keeping up. I’m several days overdue on the reviews for episode 3 of Gotham, ditto for the pilot episode of Flash and a full week overdue for the fourth season premiere of Legend of Korra. Hell, I haven’t even finished the third season of the latter show.

In my defense, Henry Rollins’ character is meant to be savoured.

Also, as much as I hate that this is the case, I still have school to work through, and until I break free from that burden, I can’t really devote all my time into a blog that doesn’t make me any money or extra credit and, at this point, it’s just a passion project. So, unfortunately, I have to enforce some rules on these reviews.

  • The reviews will be out every two episodes. Both episodes will have a rating out of five, and the totals will be added up at the end of the season to give the season an average score out of 10.
  • If the season ends with a rating under 7.5/10, I probably won’t devote any more time to reviewing the show. I may still watch it, but I just won’t review it.
  • If the season’s rating ever falls under 5.0/10, I reserve the right to call it quits at the nearest quarter, half, or three-quarter mark, and if it ends the season with a failing grade, you can forget about me reviewing another episode of it ever again (For a season at least).
  • Expect the reviews to come out a day or two after the airing of the second episode. You know, unless a holiday gets in my way, or something.
  • When it comes to reviewing the baseball playoffs….I’m done. It takes a crapload of time and it’s just not that fun for me anymore. I’ll still do some baseball stuff, but definitely expect a noticeable shift away from athletics and more towards mindless entertainment.
  • Movie reviews will always get priority, so shows that air on weekends and Friday night are likely to get shafted, somewhat.

Get it? Awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some procrastinating to do!

Gotham: Episode 2- Selina Kyle (Review)

That’s one sad looking cat.

So, in my review for the pilot episode of Gotham, I went into some detail about what I liked about the show in that 45-minute debut, and, as I found, there was quite a bit to like. The actors were great, the writing was tight, the atmosphere was appropriately dark, and its take on the Batman mytho seemed interesting enough to hold my attention. It’s not like it was flawless though. I found the framing of Gordon to be stupid, I felt that they tried to cram in too many villain cameos and in respect to the villains, there was a bit too much pointless fanservice.

Case in point: “Don’t call me Penguin!!!”

Were those problems resolved in the second episode? Well, kinda. The cameos feel a lot less pointless this time around, and it feels like every character served at least some semblance of a purpose to the plot. Problem is, the fanservice is still there, and it really got on my nerves this time around. It wasn’t so much Cobblepot’s dislike of the title of “Penguin” that bothered me this time around as the title character, Selina Kyle (Played by Camren Bicondova)’s insistence on being called “Cat.” Seriously. That is the very picture of violently beating subtlety to death.

Even if the fact that Selina Kyle is Catwoman wasn’t  already spoiled thanks to the show’s marketing campaign…

Case in point.

… We pretty much would have figured it out based on the fact that she dresses pretty much exactly like what you’d expect Catwoman to dress like, minus the skintight catsuit and gratuitous cleavage.

All of a sudden, I feel the urge to play through Arkham City again.

Also, is it just me or did the writing seem to take a turn for the worse? I wasn’t like it was a work of art, but it sure wasn’t as clunky as, say “My name is Cat” or whatever. And while I do like Bruce Wayne in this show, his dialogue seems a touch too formal for-what is he, a twelve year old?

While I’m still bitching about things I didn’t like, I really hope that the subplot about Allen and Montoya believing that Gordon is a crooked cop is wrapped up neatly and disposed of within the next episode or so. Man am I not interested at all in that being a thing.

Before I sign off, I feel like I should compliment what this episode does well, because honestly, there’s still a lot of good things to say. The show still looks fantastic (I’m a sucker for comic book visuals) the performance are still great (Robin-Lord Taylor is my favourite actor on the show at this point, and Camren Bicondova did a fine job as Catwoman Jr.), the villains were sufficiently menacing, I appreciated the reference to the Dollmaker (If you don’t know who that is, do yourself a favour and read the first volume of the new Detective Comics series) and hey, despite its’ faults, I still liked the episode! Yeah, it didn’t live up to the pilot, but I don’t think that it’s that serious of a setback. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the next episode brings.

Episode Rating: 3/5

Season Rating: 7.0/10

 

Upcoming Stuff

Way to fuck me over, Nickelodeon.

Looking for my latest Gotham review? Soon, I promise, but I need to get some blog dealings out of the way first.

Yes, I know how odd it is to pump out another post on blog news so soon after the last one but I feel I need to address the following matters:

  1. I know I said I would review the new Denzel Washington movie, and believe me, I want to, but I didn’t get a chance to go this weekend, as I was too busy having the time of m life at Comic-Con. I may do a post about that. Probably not. Anyways, if I do review The Equalizer, it will be this weekend, and if not then , maybe later this month.
  2. I still plan to see Gone Girl this coming Friday, because holy shit, how could I not!?
  3. With Nickelodeon deciding to spontaneously release the final season of Legend of Korra online on the 3rd, I need to reserve time to catch up, which unfortunately means that my limited coverage of the baseball playoffs will be pushed back until at least the beginning of the Division Series. I may still do short postgame reactions, though.
  4. TV reviews of shows like Gotham, Legend of Korra and The Flash will still take place on the day after they were released. You know, unless something comes up.

Fingers crossed…

That’s all for now! I’ll be back later tonight with the latest review of the second episode Gotham: “Selina Kyle.

In which Selina Kyle has little screen time and refuses to go by the name “Selina Kyle”. This show confuses me.

 

Gotham: Episode 1- Pilot (TV Review) SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Selina Kyle: Apparently, the all-seeing eye of Gotham City. Who’da thunk it?

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

 If you had told me one year ago that Fox was panning to release a TV crime drama set in Gotham City, I would have been completely overjoyed. I’ve always kinda thought that transitioning to TV might be a better idea for those grittier, more down-to-earth superheroes that don’t necessarily have the flashy godlike powers (Smallville notwithstanding). And as much as I don’t hate the idea of Ben Affleck donning the cape and cowl (Even if the rest of the DC cinematic universe is starting to look like a giant clusterfuck) I would love to see a Batman TV show.

Take away Batman from the equation though, and I would’ve been less than enthused.

Indeed, Gotham chooses to focus not on Bruce Wayne (Played by child actor David Mazouz) and his transformation into everyone’s favourite rich nutjob, but on the exploits of Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, former star of The O.C. and, actually a former Batman voice actor. He voiced the Dark Knight in the animated movie, Batman: Year One)  and his troubled partner, Harvey Bullock (Irish-Canadian actor Donal Logue). How did the pilot episode of this risky venture prove?

Absolutely brilliant is how it turned out.

Don’t get me wrong though, Gotham has problems, and I’ll get them out of the way first so I can gush later. My only real qualms with the movie have to do with the characters, not that the actors are to blame. I think they all do very great jobs, especially newcomer Robin Lord-Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, Jada Pinkett-Smith as original villain Fish Mooney, Cory Michael Smith’s brief cameo as Edward Nygma and the two leads, McKenzie and Logue. Problem is, the show seems a bit over-preoccupied with stuffing as many villains into it as possible in order to give super-nerds like me a hard-on. I guess it kind of makes sense this one time, given that it was the pilot episode, and they had to stuff in as much fan service as possible in order to convince Fox that they could attract an audience. In that respect, it makes sense, but I hope that they can segway into villain introductions a little better than their introduction of the man who will eventually grow up to be a Tim Burton- directed abomination.

SCENE: A group of thugs are viciously beating up on a fellow criminal. The most violent aggressor is a younger man, brandishing an umbrella while wearing a tuxedo

ANONYMOUS THUG:  Take it easy (Practically turns to audience) Penguin! (Practically winks at the goddamn audience)

PENGUIN: Don’t call me that!!!

Huh, they took lessons from the James Cameron school of subtlety, I see.

Also, I love how Detectives Montoya and Allen go ahead and take Cobblepot at his word when he tells them that Gordon and Bullock framed and murdered Mario Pepper, and immediately report their suspicions to Barbara and threaten Gordon without a shred of evidence. I thought these guys were supposed to be real hotshots. What the hell?

Overall, though, my favourite thing about the show is that it feels like a comic book set in Gotham City ,especially something like Batman: Year One (Again, minus Batman). It has a very dark atmosphere, and doesn’t hesitate to bust out the blood (Unlike the great Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan movies, who had to maintain a PG rating). The scene where Bruce’s parents are murdered (Spoiler alert, in case you’ve been living under a rock) is as emotionally  resonant as it’s ever been, the writing is, while not exactly Shakespeare, very fitting to the tone, and really, I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode Rating: 4/5

Holy fuck, was that the Joker!?!?

Upcoming TV Reviews

Huh. Look at that. They misspelt “Pamela Isley”.

I’ve really done a whole crapload of movie reviews lately, and truthfully, I ain’t gonna stop, as I’m having way too much fun with them. In fact. I’ll probably end up reviewing even more movies at some point in the near future. There’s something about bitching about visual media that just gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

However, there aren’t exactly much must-see movies coming out in the fall, and that worries me, as I need something to do when I’m not at school, working or imbibing large quantities of illicit substances.

Thankfully, my family is stuck in a black hole of a cable deal with Shaw Cable, so as of late September, I will start reviewing TV shows and possibly live-blogging events such as the Oscars. The following is a shortlist of shows I plan to review in the near future.

  • Gotham (Premieres September 22, 2014)
  • Major League Baseball Playoffs (Begin some time in late September)
  • The Flash (Premieres October 7, 2014)
  • Game of Thrones (Season 5 premieres in 2015)
  • Legend of Korra (Season 4 premiere TBA when Nickelodeon gets its shit together)

If anybody has any more suggestions on shows or events I should review, then feel free to let me know. As of know, these are the things I have planned for sure.