Gotham: The Complete Series
Genre: Comic Book/Action
Created by: Bruno Heller
The Lowdown: From Adam West and George Clooney to the unfortunate Bat-fleck experiment and seemingly everywhere in between, Hollywood has maintained a long love affair with Batman, but never before had anyone tried to tell the caped crusader’s story through the eyes of the one man who believed the Bat was a good guy trying to make his city a safer place.
That all changed in 2014 when Fox debuted Gotham, a new weekly serial focused on Detective Jim Gordon, years before he would become Gotham City’s police commissioner and form an unlikely alliance with Batman.
Gotham proposed a new take on the same characters that fans have long loved and argued over. Instead of the classic iterations of iconic villains, Gotham presented younger versions of The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman and more, along with a barely-teen-aged Bruce Wayne and an idealistic Gordon (played by The O.C.’s Ben McKenzie) who was willing to play as rough as the criminals to clean up Gotham’s streets.
It goes without saying that there were a lot of skeptics, which might seem surprising given that series creator Bruno Heller is no stranger to ensemble serials, having built Rome for HBO and The Mentalist, which ran for several years on CBS.
Gotham’s first season, while rocky at times, showed promise, particularly in the way that core villains like Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), aka Penguin, and new foes, like Gordon’s estranged ex-fiance Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), were slowly, carefully fleshed out.
And Gotham kept improving. Depending on the week, you never knew if the next episode might be something spectacular. Plus, McKenzie, the former Fox heartthrob, was electrifying as Gordon, gruff beyond his years and imbued with a steely determination to eradicate evil. Pairing him with Donal Logue as the world-weary Harvey Bullock was a master stroke.
Even the things that could be annoying (David Mazouz, more than any other series regular struggled to find his footing early on as a young Bruce Wayne) weren’t enough to make you tune out. And the decision to give each successive season a different theme, whether “Rise of the Villains” or “A Dark Knight,” helped organize and influence the narrative trajectory.
After 100 episodes, Gotham signed off this year, and now with this impressive, hi-definition boxed set, you can revisit favorite moments and episodes, or binge the hell out of the entire thing.
More than any of the recent DC Comics takes on the character and the city he protects, Gotham earned its iconic beacon shining in the night sky, meant to strike fear in the hearts of evil men and women.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Erin Richards is crazy hot as Barbara Kean.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – The entire Rogue’s Gallery of Batman’s greatest villains.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Pet Sematary (Paramount, 101 minutes, R, 4K Ultra HD): Like most life-long horror fans, 1989’s Pet Sematary will always be a guilty pleasure, not to mention a decent stab at adapting one of Stephen King’s most chilling works, but the original left a lot to be desired with its uneven acting (save for Fred Gwynne) and thoroughly dated special effects.
This year’s remake/reboot by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (whose Starry Eyes remains one of the best original horror films of the 2000’s) offered a much more nuanced take on King’s tale about an ancient Native American burial ground whose soil could reanimate anything buried there.
The film also packed a healthy satchel full of genuine jump scares and wholly unnerving sequences, along with some seriously inspired twists.
Personally, I was applauding in the theater at the ending, which I found much more satisfying than even King’s novel.
If you haven’t seen the new Pet Sematary, you need to fix that asap. This one is guaranteed to please.
This Island Earth
Now on Video-on-Demand:
BVB: Blood Violence and Babes has been dealing with some too-intense real-life scares of late, courtesy of two aging fathers, so we’re a bit behind in our movie-watching duties, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a slew of new Video-on-Demand titles available this week. Here’s a brief run-down of the three most promising:
Killer Unicorn (Indican Pictures, 74 minutes, PG-13, Video-on-Demand): Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race are going to want to sashay straight to their favorite streaming platform to rent or buy this LGBTQ slasher, which features a masked killer wearing a pink unicorn mask and stalking lots of terrified drag queens.
Ashes (Killer Therapy, 93 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): We all have that one relative whom we know won’t go gently into that good night. Ashes tells the story of a particularly difficult aunt whose cremated remains unleash a series of supernatural terrors on her unsuspecting family.
Landing Lake (High Octane Pictures, 98 minutes, Unrated, Video-on-Demand): High Octane Pictures is using some pretty iconic comparisons (John Carpenter’s The Thing and Rabid) to promote Landing Lake, a new alien invasion/body horror flick. Whether the film can live up to such lofty expectations is your mission to figure out, if you’re not too scared to wade into the water.