Gotham is a series that I’ve had trouble getting excited for because it’s a Batman series without Batman. I started to get more excited once I heard the casting announcements, but if this latest news ends up being true, I’ll have lost all confidence in Fox’s upcoming prequel show. iO9 has gotten ahold of a script for Gotham’s pilot episode labeled that’s labeled “Second Network Draft.” While this isn’t necessarily the final draft, it’s also not one of the earlier ones. The site points out that this might not be a real draft, and even if it is, things may change during filming. Keep that in mind while reading these tidbits. Alright, let’s get to the insanity, and forewarning, SPOILERS FOLLOW.
First off, the episode is in abundance of exposition. They attempt to introduce everyone in the cast without any subtlety or attempts at characterization, mostly through Gordon and Bullock making the rounds while they’re working the Thomas and Martha Wayne case. This lack of subtlety also bleeds into its role as a Batman show. It assumes that everyone watching has never seen any Batman-related media and proceeds to goes out of its way to point out that this is part of The Caped Crusader’s history, such as someone commenting that Oswald Cobblepot “looks like a penguin.” Other problems the site mentioned include Harvey Bullock and Jim Gordon being a stereotypical cop pairing (Bullock being the tough, jaded cop while Gordon is too naive at first) and its use of 1930’s gangster lingo like “mopes and looney birds.”
If those weren’t enough for you, provided this list of other plot details from the episode, which are listed below:
• Here’s the proto-villains introduced in the pilot: A 14-year-old Catwoman, already cat-burglering and associating with cats; the Riddler, who is working for the GCPD as a coroner and who tries to present all pertinent case information as riddles; the Penguin, a mid-level thug, who as mentioned earlier is repeatedly referred to as looking like a penguin.
• Additionally, Gordon and Bullock enter a run-down apartment where a little girl named Ivy lives with her shitty parents and, according to the script, a lot of houseplants. Could this perhaps be Poison Ivy? Well, in the comics, Poison Ivy’s real name is Pamela Isley. Is Gotham giving us a clever feint here? Probably not.
• There’s also a comedian telling jokes in gangster Fish Mooney’s club, jokes straight out ofReader’s Digest circa 1942. Mooney laughs hysterically, and, just in case those feelings were somehow opaque to the audiences, she tells the comedian she likes him. A lot. Repeatedly.
• Major Crimes detective Renee Montoya used to date Gordon’s fiancée, because LESBIANS. And for bonus points, Bullock even calls her a dyke. Fun!
• Alfred appears to have a crazy cockney accent, and I swear to god this is real dialogue from the script:
ALFRED: Oi! Master Bruce! Stop playing silly buggers! Get your bloody arse down off there!
• One more line for the road from Gordon’s fiancée:
BARBARA (blithely): Jim, you are the cleverest, bravest, goodest man in Gotham.
Although they havenn’t been verified, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the above details are real. I can look past the lack of subtlety in the script because in a pilot, the writers have to introduce the characters and main plot points all at once. I can also move past Gordon and Bullock being cop clichés as long as there’s sufficient character development in later episodes. However, that’s where it ends for me. These obligatory Batman character references are extremely transparent, and if later episodes continue to feature this heavy-handed approach, that’s going to be a problem.
The time frame doesn’t make much sense either. First off, let’s assume the Bruce Wayne they show in this series will become Batman in the present day, i.e. now. That means he’s twelve years old in either the ’70s, ’80s, or at the latest the early ’90s. So then why do the lines scream like this takes place in the ’30s or ’40s? Unlike Batman: The Animated Series, I don’t think this show will be able to effectively convey the timeless noir feel, so they’d be better off just sticking to a more reasonable time period. There’s no need to mention years, but at least make it look like Bruce Wayne grew up in a feasible decade and not some weird city where the ’40s lasted decades later. It may work for the comics or Tim Burton’s Batman films, but it’s not the right move for this show.
However, what really has me doubting the legitimacy of this script is the dialogue. Bullock calling Montoya a “dyke?” Alfred’s stereotypical cockney plea? Gordon’s fiancée telling him he’s the “goodest” man she knows? These are horrible lines that no one in their good mind would let go past a first draft. I hope we get some more information on the pilot soon because if this is what Gotham ends up being like, I’m striking this series off my watch list.