Gotham: The Balloonman

Posted on October 07, 2014

Gotham-Season-1-Episode-3-Television-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOPinCamren Bicondova and Ben McKenzie in Fox’s “Gotham”


We don’t think we’ve ever seen a show deteriorate so rapidly from “promising and fun” to “tiresome and repetitive.” It’s hard for us to pin down exactly why this episode was the dealbreaker for us, but by the end of the hour, we were done. Was it:

The scary, untrustworthy bisexual/gay characters?

The painfully unfunny and unoriginal Italian mobster stereotypes?

The rambling, unfocused nature of Penguin’s story?

Jada’s performance, which started off like a fun Eartha Kitt riff and looks increasingly silly as time goes on and it becomes obvious almost no one else in the cast is playing off her campy style?

The fact that no one in the cast is playing off ANYONE ELSE in the cast and they all seem to have different ideas about what kind of show they’re all making?

The fact that, Jada’s performance aside, not one of the actresses on this show can deliver a line to save their lives?

The ridiculously cartoony corruption of the Gotham Police Department, where detectives gleefully use their good cop awards to beat suspects loudly enough for the whole squad room to hear (and ignore)?

The Bruce Wayne scenes, which are perfunctory and have little to do with anything else going on in the story but the creators clearly feel they have to be there because Batman?

Ben McKenzie’s performance, which has already lapsed into “bored?”

Donal Logue’s performance, which has already lapsed into “picking up my checks and going home?”

The utterly bizarre tonal shifts, that allow for jokes about pedophile priests and random slashings, but treat someone smoking a joint like she’s got a heroin needle sticking out of her arm?

The answer is “Yes.” It was all these things. And by that we mean that it wasn’t each of these things. We mean it’s the total number of issues the show has already and how they were all present in last night’s episode. It all comes down to one, overarching criticism: this show has no idea what it wants to be. It was a flaw we detected from the beginning but it’s only gotten worse with each subsequent episode. In a way, we should be grateful to the show, for declining so rapidly that we won’t have to waste time watching something because we’re holding on to the idea that it has promise. If by episode three of a series, we’re seeing all of these issues – and more importantly, seeing them as issues for the series as a whole, rather than for this one episode, then this is a series in serious trouble. You can’t be campy and gritty at the same time; not in a standard network drama. You can’t ask us to be concerned about police corruption in a city like Gotham and then have another character deal with it through the use of weather balloons.

Bottom line: You can’t tell a Batman story without Batman. Which is why it was such a terrible idea to make this a Batman story instead of a police procedural in a dark and slightly fantastical city, which is what we were hoping for. Instead, it’s supervillains without a superhero, which makes for an unbalanced show in which the lead “hero” character winds up looking hopelessly overwhelmed and out of place. We keep expecting Jim Gordon to wake up and realize this city’s a hell-hole and he should just get out of there ASAP. That’s kinda the opposite of what we’re supposed to be expecting from this show.

This isn’t to say Gotham can’t improve. We are, after all, only three episodes into the show. Plenty of things can happen and such turnarounds in quality aren’t unheard of in television. We hope it finds its way. We’re just gonna sit back and wait for someone to tell us it has, because life’s too short to waste time on things you’re not enjoying.

But yeah, the “scary bisexual” trope was probably the dealbreaker.


[Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX]

Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

blog comments powered by Disqus