Tag Archives: gotham

Underrated: Comic Book TV Shows That Don’t Suck (Anymore)

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comic Book TV Shows That Don’t Suck (Anymore)



Do you remember when [insert comic book TV show here] debuted, and how excited you were to start watching it? Do you then remember the moment when your excitement waned and you realized that somewhere alone the line that [insert comic book TV show here] either never was all that good, or  had begun the descent into suckage?

Well, here’s a few shows where that descent was reversed, for better or for worse. The only caveat is that is all personal opinion, and some shows still suck. Obviously this is not going to be an fully comprehensive list, because I haven’t watch every comic book show available, but merely a selection of those I have.

And if your favourite show isn’t here? Maybe it never sucked enough…

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Arrow Now somewhere in its eighth season, Arrow started out with significant promise before slowly trending downwards. Hitting a low point around the third season, Arrow struggled throughout the following year and a half before finally pulling itself away from the poor man’s imitation of Batman we’d  been seeing as the show moved away from the League of Assassin’s and toward a direction you’d never expect to see Batman or Bruce Wayne take as Oliver Queen ran for Mayor of Star City. Now, although the show still has its problems, Arrow is on a decidedly upward trend and no longer deserves the poor reputation it so justly earned a few years ago.

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Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ironically, few people enjoyed this show right from the get go – my wife effectively gave up on this right around the tie in for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was around when the series started to pic up in its quality. Since then, barring a few hiccups (most notably Season 4), the show has been remarkably solid with the fifth season standing out as the best one that has been produced in the last five years.

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Gotham Unlike the other two shows mentioned in this week’s column, Gotham is a show I actually dropped half way through the first season. It turns out that for a long time that was the right decision. But recently those who have bravely stuck with the show for various reasons have been rumbling that, maybe, it’s something that should make its way back into my television viewing schedule. While I haven’t  made the plunge on it yet, primarily due to time constraints, I have every intention of reading the highlights online before starting with the most recent season. I’ll let you know how that ends up.


 

That’s pretty much it for this week, so join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Around the Tubes

It’s a new week and we’ve got lots on tap. Our first review of Deadpool 2 goes live at 11pm tonight. While you wait for that, interviews, and more, here’s some comic news and reviews.

Bleeding Cool – No Enemy But Peace – Richard Meyer, Antarctic Press and Jawbreakers – A very good read.

Kotaku – The Real-Life Politician Running For EVE Online’s In-Game Council – Interesting. Really interesting.

U.S. News – New Ohio Exhibit Explores History of Blacks in Comic Books – Sounds interesting.

Herald Mail Media – ‘Bam!’: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts celebrates graphic novels with exhibit – Also sounds interesting.

WPXI Pittsburgh – Death Dealer painting outshines Superman comic at auction – That’s some a lot of money.

CBR – Gotham Renewed for Fifth and Final Season on Fox – Good…

Newsarama – Inhumans Cancelled – This is a surpirse?

Newsarama – Lucifer Cancelled – Booooo!

ICv2 – DC Raises Prices On Ongoing DC Universe Titles – Holding the line not so much.

ICv2 – Exclusive: Lion Forge Hires Carol Burrell as CubHouse Executive Editor – Congrats!

 

Reviews

Talking Comics – Barrier #2

TV Review: Gotham S4E10 A Dark Knight: Things That Go Boom

Gordon tries to broker a deal with Penguin involving Sofia; Alfred tries to pull Bruce out of his downward spiral; Lee Thompkins gains more control over the Narrows.

With Douche Wayne and Professor Pyg on the sidelines for most of the episode, Gotham focuses on the battle between Sofia and Penguin and Lee’s expansion of power in the Narrows as the show continues to barrel ahead without what feels like a plan or care of the material.

Your enjoyment of the series is probably based on what you think of that source material’s use. The Thompkins/Narrows storyline is beyond ill thought at as a villain turn for the character is so left field from the comics and also presents no positive women on the show. Lee at one point was the “pure” character but it seems every female character is now a mobster, killer, or worse.

Then there’s the Falcone/Penguin story which has some good points but generally I find myself screaming at the scream by the fact that Penguin or Sofia don’t just put a bullet in each other’s heads. They dance around setting up situations you know they’ll walk away from and neither have the guts enough to just pull the trigger themselves when they have the opportunity. Neither deserves to win and at this point I’m hoping Gordon just guns everyone down and get the stupid over with.

The show usually shows strength when it focuses on the “mob centric” aspects of the show but for some reason this time it’s no longer working. Probably because Sofia’s plan is convoluted. Probably become Penguin figures it out and still doesn’t do much about it. Probably because despite access to rocket launchers no one seems to be able to hit each other with a gun of any sorts. It’s stupid for stupid sake.

The Professor Pyg story is pushed to the side with him caught and Gordon figures out his story. This is probably the best plotline the series has every had with good acting and some real scares. So, the minimization of it all hurts the episode.

The less said about Bruce Wayne the better. Bad acting. Bad story. Just unwatchable at times.

The series seemed like it was getting good but this episode is one of the worst of the season and one of the worst of the series. It’s mind numbing at times having me scream at the television. This isn’t entertainment, it’s frustration.

Overall Rating: 6.0

TV Review: Gotham S4E7 A Dark Knight: A Day in the Narrows

With Professor Pyg striking fear throughout Gotham, Gordon and Bullock head into the Narrows for clues; Bruce is convinced by a former friend to go out with some former classmates; Sofia’s relationships evolve with Penguin and Gordon.

Gotham continues the pretty solid stroytelling from the previous episode as the search for Professor Pyg continues. Pyg may be the strongest villain the show has had so far. The episode also feels like it’s a microcosm of what works and what doesn’t in the show with what’s good and not all in the same scene.

What works for the series is its focus on corrupt police and the more grounded storylines like gang wars. That’s been a major aspect of the season but then the silly is dropped in. In this case, it’s Penguin deciding to help the GCPD to stop Pyg and he does so by bringing in a character by the name of Headhunter, an over the top character the sticks out compared to everything else going on. Thankfully it feels like everyone is in on the silliness so things aren’t quite as odd as when Mr. Freeze is a part of things. But, the cat and mouse between Gordon and Pyg is the draw and as long as you focus on that, things are generally in a good direction.

 

Since the show likes threes… Barbara, Selina and crew is the second storyline as they attempt to make some dollars and consolidate power. It’s all forgettable and thankfully not much time is devoted to it all.

The third plot line is Bruce and it doesn’t suck! Bruce decides to cut loose after an event and he lashes out due to all his pent up anger finally going down the playboy/party boy route we know from comics. He’s a dick, unlikeable, and the acting is getting better. A massive improvement in what we’ve seen as far as the character.

We’ve gotten two good episodes in a row, which feels like a rarity for the series. Pyg has been a boost for the series as far as focusing the storytelling and giving us a villain that not only is part of Batman’s rogues but also one that really works in the world of the GCPD. Here’s hoping as the season progresses it continues to keep things heading in a positive direction.

Overall Rating: 7.75

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What are folks planning on getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below. While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Deseret News – Appeals court: Gag order on Salt Lake Comic Con violated First Amendment – This court case is going to get ugly and interesting.

The Outhouse – Gotham Casts Its Third Poison Ivy – Sigh…

 

Reviews

Talking Comics – Eternity #1

TV Review: Gotham S4E6 A Dark Knight: Hog Day Afternoon

Gordon and Bullock hunt a serial killer who has been dressing victims with pig heads; Sofia tries to win over Penguin; Thompkins, Nygma, and Grundy find themselves an unlikely home at Cherry’s place.

Gotham gives us another new Batman rogue in the form of Professor Pyg who is taking out corrupt police making him a pseudo ally of Gordon whose frustration with how things are going in the GCPD is increasing. The episode is the strongest of the season and the strongest in a long time despite the mediocre Thompkins/Riddler/Grundy storyline.

Lets focus on the weakest part of the show and that’s the Falcone/Penguin storyline as Sofia plays the Penguin buttering him up and making him think she’s on his side. What’s clear is she has some greater plan going on. We know it. Penguin knows it. It’s an obvious plotline you can’t help but think we’re all wrong. It’s simplistic in a lot of ways and clearly building to something down the line.

The second major plot point is Grundy fighting, Riddler attempting to get his memory back, and Thompkins helping out. Grundy looks better than he did the previous episode and while I like the Riddler not having his smarts, the Thompkins aspect just feels real off. There wasn’t a ton that was being done with the character before but the direction they’ve taken her is beyond idiotic and does not do justice to the character. As it stands, there’s no “good” female characters. They’re all criminals or killers in some way. We see the beginning of an attempt to redeem the character but it’s not enough and there’s a long way to go.

The strongest plot is Professor Pyg who gives us the best adaptation of a comic character so far. The character is frightening and charming at the same time. He also plays the series strength by focusing on a serial killer story. The series is its best when it focuses on the GCPD and more street level crime. Pyg does that well especially tying into the corruption angle of the season. If the series were to just focus on this, it’d be all the more stronger.

Easily the best episode of the season so far this one is more grounded and entertaining showing off the series strengths. It also shows us that the concept for the entire series can work and work really well. Now, to go back and do everything over.

 

 

 

Overall Rating: 7.95

TV Review: Gotham S4E4 A Dark Knight: The Demon’s Head

Bruce puts lives at risk to uncover the meaning behind his prized knife from the auction; Ra’s Al Ghul proves his deadly devotion; Sofia Falcone is on a mission to win back Gotham from Penguin.

Gotham focuses a bit in this episode as we move into four main focuses, what’s with the knife, who’s Ra’s, Sofia Falcone vs. Penguin, and Penguin vs. Riddler.

The first two plot threads feel like they get amble time to play out and a lot of that is used to explain things and why they matter. All of this is actually pretty decent. How Ra’s is presented feels like it’s a bit more grounded than what we’ve seen in other iterations with a focus on myth more than anything else. Presented as a legend there’s something that works and works better than say a guy with a giant cold gun. And that presents some of the issues and hurdles this series has, the fact that it has to balance these two settings, the fantastical and the real. This episode is a bit more on the real side.

That is helped a bit by the Falcone plot which has Sofia going through her own history and out of all of the current plots, this one has the most potential. The series feels its strongest when it sticks to the “mob wars” type storyline and hopefully we get more of that this season.

Then there’s the Riddler vs. Penguin storyline. The quicker this is over, the better as it not only feels played out but it’s downright silly. In the comics we recently had the Joker vs. Riddler and that feels like Shakespeare compared to what’s being presented on the small screen. It’s bad. It’s really bad. Frustratingly bad. The acting is silly, and it took me out of the rest of the episode which was an improvement.

There’s some brutal stuff here as Ra’s kills quite a few to get in a position that he clearly wants. Is it weird to say, more of this and less of the other rogues?

 

The episode has some ups and downs and isn’t good but isn’t bad too. There’s bright spots, and in this episode we’ve gotten more of those than low points.

Overall Rating: 6.65

TV Review: Gotham S4E3 A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks

Gordon travels to Miami hoping to convince Carmine Falcone to help him fight the Penguin, only to have his daughter follow him back to Gotham.

Gotham is all over the place with this episode that has Gordon focused on stopping Penguin and Bruce’s story circling with the reveal of Ra’s Al Ghul last season. Both stories are ok with Gordon’s being the stronger of the two.

Whenever Ben McKenzie‘s Gordon has dealt with John Doman‘s Carmine Falcone the series has felt like it has found its footing. As a whole the show does better when it focuses on the “street level” crime fmaily drama and seems to derail any time it deviates. What’s interesting is the introduction of Crystal Reed as Sofia Falcone, a new femme fatale for Gordon to flirt with. If the show just focused on this, it’d be stronger for it.

Instead we get some side questions.

The first involves a superfan of the Riddler, Myrtle Jenkins, who springs him from Penguin’s ice cage. It’s a little weird and while the acting is entertaining, it doesn’t quite jive with the more grounded and serious segments involving Gordon.

Then there’s Bruce who I’m now dubbing the “Douche Knight” in his quest to solve crime and purchase a knife that leads to Ra’s Al Ghul. The acting as usual is atrocious and Bruce is played as a childish dick as opposed to an arrogant and aloof playboy. It’s weird and definitely a different way of depicting the character, sadly it just doesn’t work as again it’s a weird tone in between Gordon’s story and Riddlers.

And that’s the issue with the series, it wants to do everything and doesn’t commit to one thing. The tone and vision is all over the place. If the show focused on one thing it’d be stronger (any one thing) but by trying to cover all tones, settings, and characters, it doesn’t do any of them well and feels like it’s a bit ADD about it all. A more focused series would be a stronger one.

 

Overall Rating: 6.50

TV Review: Gotham S4E2 A Dark Knight: The Fear Reaper

Gordon attempts to bring in Jonathan Crane to prove that the GCPD is still powerful; Selina and Tabitha must consider risks that come with joining Barbara in the weapon business.

Gotham generally is on the right track but it seems much like the first, the second episode throws in just enough to cause the episode the trip over itself.

When the series focuses on the police, corruption, and Penguin, it shines. You can see this to some extent towards the end when Penguin recruits the police directly, though I still am scratching my head as to where the Feds are during all of this? The series as a whole has been solid when it keeps things somewhat grounded. In this case, with it more mob focuses, that’s entertaining and I want to see more of it. Even Gordon’s focus on bringing in Crane is decent enough and uses the character well and delivers a take on the character that feels like a mix of different versions we’ve seen.

The other part of the episode is Tabitha and Selina possibly making a deal with Barbara and Ivy’s thrown in there too. This too works well as the internal politics and dynamics are interesting. It plays nicely into Penguin’s new rules for the city as well. Again, sticking with this would be solid.

Again, where things go wrong are Bruce Wayne and his transition to Batman. Not only does Alfred need to come save him but Lucius Fox steps in with new equipment for Bruce and the series doesn’t even attempt to make it all interesting. Instead, lines about rock climbing feel like they’ve been taken directly from Batman Begins, a rather silly thing that reminded me of the far superior movie.

 

 

Much like the previous season, this one feels like it’ll have a lot of ups and downs. If it focuses on just the police it’s entertaining and a show I want to watch. Wen it focuses on Bruce, something just doesn’t click. The writers feel like they’re committing to the later, so we’ll need to suck it up and deal with it, hopefully it’s to a minimum.

Overall Rating: 6.75

TV Review: Gotham S4E1 A Dark Knight: Pax Penguina

Detective Gordon suspects that Jonathan Crane has resurfaced; Penguin hosts the grand opening of his new Iceberg Lounge; Bruce begins his vigilante watch.

Gotham has returned with a mix of an episode that picks up where last season left off. Bruce is well on his way to becoming Batman and Penguin is making his moves to take over the city… in a way. There’s good and bad in this episode, a lot of good actually and that’s a bit surprising based on the promotional material leading up to this season.

I’ll start with the bad. As usual it’s everything having to do with Bruce Wayne and his becoming a vigilante. It’s hard to ignore that he’s maybe 15 or 16 and there’s little push to stop him from doing what he’s doing. There’s also the fact he’s either really good or really bad at everything he’s doing. He either trips and stumbles into a fight or is able to disappear like a ghost. He confronts Penguin and in a rather awkward exchange it’s clear he’s investigating the new set up I’ll discuss more below.

All of the above isn’t helped by the fact that David Mazouz still hasn’t grown as an actor. Everything is delivered in a bland, boring, monotone way. When everyone else is so full of life, it stands out, especially when actor Sean Pertwee is so good in everything he does as Alfred.

Lets get to the rest of the episode though….

There’s a new status quo in Gotham and now all crime is being licensed through Penguin’s associates with the blessings of those in charge like the head of the police and Mayor. It’s a head scratcher that would work a bit better if it wasn’t so blunt and out there. Everyone knows about this and the Feds haven’t stepped in?

What’s good about the storyline is that it dials back the villains focus which was escalating and getting a bit silly. Instead it’s more mob vs police and a focus on corruption grounding things a bit. But, the cat’s out of the bag so there’s still colorful characters like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and the Riddler (on ice). The episode is the strongest when it focuses on the police and their dealing with this new status quo. Bullock and Gordon especially stand out and have through the series. It just gets derailed when things shift towards Bruce.

So, the first episode sets things up but it’s a mixed bag. There’s glimpses of a solid series and then things get silly again showing those behind the series don’t seem to know exactly what type of series they’re doing. Hopefully we get more of the Gotham police and a little less of masks and cowls.

Overall Rating: 7.0

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