Martin Carr reviews the third episode of Gotham season 4…
According to those in the know Gotham hit bottom last week with an abysmal showing. Audience numbers are apparently down, interest is waning and those in network television land are ready to hammer that final nail home. Although there would be those inclined to agree I am not amongst them. In truth Gotham has flaws but no more or less than any other show which has been on air consistently over four years. Peaks and troughs are bound to happen, new characters will get introduced and gel or otherwise, such is the way of entertainment industries. What remains true throughout is that Gotham prevails.
When Danny Cannon and company began this origin series back in 2014 detractors were widespread, voracious in their condemnation and never spared the lash. Other more interesting shows surfaced but lasted no more than one season and yet Gotham brought in big numbers. Criticism of Ben McKenzie, David Mazouz and others came about from purists, devotees of Nolan’s bat trilogy and keepers of comic book lineage. What immerged however was a resilience against any form of internet fearmongering and ‘Gotham’ just grew in popularity. As we roll into season four however that shine has come off the penny.
Even going back to Arabia and down Florida way for some location work proves fruitless, as this change of scene only feels out of place. Segues into other geographical regions is all well and good but this is no Bond movie, so sudden chances of locale, especially in television need to be done wisely. Bringing back retired crime bosses for one day just to introduce a needless love interest with underworld intentions smacks of manipulation. Crystal Reed’s Sofia Falcone may be striking but her instant attraction to Gordon is also overly convenient and transparent.
It must also be noted that a higher quota of scantily clad ladies will not keep viewing figures up for long. Making them quirky like Murtle Jenkins, alluring like Tabitha or Sofia and Barbara might work short-term, but these actors need something to do. Cracking whips, firing guns and posturing whilst pouting does not an interesting performance make. Elsewhere Bruce has gone from introverted and cossetted rich kid to masked vigilante and now adds obnoxious billionaire into the mix. Thawing out certain people, bumping off others and keeping glimpses of Ra’s al Ghul to a minimum means that Gotham is still setting out its narrative stall.
Bringing Alfred further into the fray also feels like an afterthought as he remains a constant companion, father figure and hired muscle depending upon circumstance. Not that Pertwee does a bad job it just feels that his role is more convenient than progressive right now. With the focus being very much on the evolution of Batman this season everything else has had the volume turned down. I think the fault lays with no one in particular but simply that Gotham has spread itself too thin. Audiences are historically undemanding when it comes to being entertained and throwing multiple storylines at people, especially when they lack depth, will only end in indifference. For my money the only thing you can say right now is that Gotham works hard but pulls itself in too many different directions.