gotham-red

From a marketing standpoint, Fox’s Gotham already had the deck stacked heavily in its favor. It’s a gritty superhero origin story, at a time when gritty superhero origin stories are doing massive business. And the superhero in question isn’t some indie-comic third-stringer, but one of the most iconic, most beloved superheroes of all time. Those facts alone would be enough to make Gotham one of the most buzzed-about new shows of the 2014-2015 season, even without a seasoned, capable creator (Bruno Heller, of Rome and The Mentalist) and a thoroughly solid cast (Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett-Smith).

But from a creative standpoint, that very same advantage — Gotham‘s familiarity — proves to be a major liability. It’s an antihero crime drama in a pop culture landscape already saturated with antihero crime dramas, and these particular antiheroes are already extremely well known. By the show’s very nature, there’s little question as to where most of its characters will end up, which drastically lowers the dramatic tension. Were Gotham not a Batman prequel, we might be left wondering whether Jim Gordon (McKenzie) could possibly make good on his promise to clean up the city, or whether Bruce Wayne’s traumatic childhood would forge a hero or a villain. As it is, we already know exactly what the answers are.

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