Title: Gotham: Season 2
HTS Overall Score:
“Gotham” stands out as one of the ONLY DC superhero TV lineup to stand outside of the CW. “Supergirl” used to join “Gotham” in the shade of being outside of the “Flash/Arrow/Legends of Tomorrowverse”, but now that the flying cousin of Kal-El has joined the CW’s lineup it looks like “Gotham” is the only and only standout. And standout it does, as the show is distinctly different in both tone and feel than all of the DC shows. Gothic and brooding, it is more of a reimagining of the “Batman” lore and focuses on a Young Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) before he becomes the venerable Commissioner Gordon in his older age. Dark and morose, it lacks the cheese and general cheery nature of the other shows, but instead blends film noir with gothic brooding to set the tone. The first season of “Gotham” was a bit rough, but had its charms, but season 2 manages to smooth out many of those rough spots and goes on a steady uphill climb that elevates the series from the oddly paced first season.
Season 2 tends to a bit more supervillain based than the previous entry into the “Gotham” library. Last time we really focused more on the gangster breed in the city, with much focus being put on the rival Don’s and the rise of Penguin (a fantastically cast Robin Lord Taylor) to power in Gotham’s underworld. We left off with young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) finding out a little bit more about his father’s past, and being on the outs once more with Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova). We start the series up once more with detective James Gordon being stripped of his detective’s badge after his partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), resigned the force and now tends bar in downtown Gotham. HOWEVER, villains are still on the loose as Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and several other Arkham Asylum inmates have been broken out by Billionaire Theo Galavan (James Frain) and let loose upon the city.
Season 2 has been aptly nicknamed “Rise of the Villains” for good reason. This year is just jam packed with all sorts of villains and supervillains to cause trouble for the brooding city. Penguin is still the lord and master of the Gotham underworld, but Theo Galavan is unleashing a new type of terror with the inclusion of Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan). A character that is teased at being the crown prince of cime, none other than the Joker himself. But the series creators have made it VERY clear that the actual validity of that suspicion is to be kept obtuse at all times. Jerome cackles, laughs and acts as maniacal as the famous green haired psychopath, but they skirt around whether he really is said man. Barbara is also hinted at, or at least intimated at being a Harley Quinn type character, but once more, the powers that be don’t exactly come out and say it, but rather tease and dance around the issue. Either way, the pair makes for a deliciously psychotic pair that wreaks more than their fair share of havoc on the fair citizens of Gotham.
While the big names are there, there are also some other fairly fascinating inclusions this year. Including, but not limited to, Tigress, Hugo Strange, Edward Nigma (who still manages to be awkwardly likeable even though it’s obvious the man’s mental state is slipping with every waking moment), Mr. Freeze, and Azrael. The only downside to this cornucopia of side show villains is the fact that James Gordon is the one to be taking on all of these criminals. Many of them so powerful that even the might of Batman is stumped at one time or another. It just makes it feel like Batman doesn’t have much to look forward to if Gordon can navigate these crazies.
The good points of the series are very good, and the bad points can get a bit embarrassing, but I have to say that the good points tend to outweigh the bad more often than not. While the first season was bogged down with excessive gangster plotlines and uneven storytelling, season 2 turns the tables around with the tons of super villains and makes the action that much more interesting. Gone is Jada Pinkett Smith as the largely disliked Fish Mooney (although we do get to see a little story with the queen of crime crammed in for good measure), and in is the ever elusive Joke wannabe, as well as the fascinating tale of Theo Galavan. James Frain is perfect for the twisted billionaire and his counter balance comes with Michael Chiklis as GCPD Captain Nathaniel Barnes. Chiklis is an imposing character in his roles, and his tough as nails cop persona here does his reputation justice.
Now the bad comes with the form of Bruce Wayne and Alfred (Sean Pertwee). Whiny little Wayne is getting REALLY annoying and seems to show no signs of actually growing up any time soon. Not to mention that Alfred is less the kind hearted but completely bad to the bone butler and more of an English thug in a suit, determined to run over master Wayne for “his own good”. Something that just doesn’t feel right to this long time Batman fan. For a show that advertises how it’s about James Gordon and his fight against crime before the Batman, it actually spends a LOT of time on the boy who will BECOME Batman. Sometimes detrimentally so.
The episode list:
Damned If You Do
The Last Laugh
Mommy’s Little Monster
Tonight’s The Night
A Bitter Pill to Swallow
The Son of Gotham
Worse Than A Crime…
A Dead Man Feels No Cold
This Ball of Mud and Meanness
Mad Grey Dawn
Into the Woods
A Legion of Horribles
Once again Warner has given us a stellar TV show encode.. It used to be that Warner was the studio of lossy audio and mediocre TV season image quality, but no more, and “Gotham: Season 2” is one of their better efforts (even amongst the really good encodes that are coming out nowadays). The 1.78:1 1080p encode looks simply superb. Taking a nice balance between darkness and light, the show’s creators give us plenty of time in both scenarios. The dark and brooding Gotham night is gothic and filled with inky dark shadows and the pitch blackness one associates with the Gotham “feel”. However, there is impeccable detail and no signs of digital artifacting anywhere on the disc. Banding is near nonexistent and the blacks don’t suffer from any crush or washed out black levels. The dusky and sometimes over brightened daytime sequences are just as amazing, with razor sharp detail, both up close and far away shots. Skin tones are natural and clean, with a well-balanced contrast level to accompany naturally graded color palette. SSeason 2 of “Gotham” is an exceptional encode that really draws the viewer in to the seedy, crime infested city just abounds with Gothic Noir visuals. If it can be possible, this season looks even more crisp and clean than the previous season did, with a nicely polished look that feeds into the Gothic "Batman" inspired visual aesthetics.
“Gotham Season 2” sports a very bombastic and aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that is right up there with the video encode. The show is very visceral and powerful in its mix and that ruthless power is realized mere minutes into the season’s opening episode as gunshots erupt in an Arkham Asylum breakout that rocks the listener back into their seat. The show takes place in the echoey halls of Gotham PD, as well as the back alleys of the dark city, and vocals remain clear and focused in the center channel at all time. Action is hard and heavy throughout, adding many moments for the visceral LFE to blast you straight in the chest with gunshots, car crashes, and Jerome cackling into the camera in a Jokeresque way. Surrounds get a very hefty workout with said action sequences and the many ambient sounds inherent to a busy city. A+ all the way.
• Gotham: 2015 Comic-Con Panel: Warner Bros. Television Presents a Night of DC Entertainment at Comic-Con 2015: Gotham
• Gotham by Noir Light: Gotham is deeply cast into the film noir technique and edgy attitude. The camera’s lens is able to pick up on the subtlety for the fans to enjoy a modern update to an age old tradition, of how to paint with shadow and light.
• Alfred: Batman’s Greatest Ally: This story is about Gotham's take on the father/son bond between Bruce Wayne and his butler Alfred. The depth of the mythology from the comic books comes to life on the series. Poignant and powerful.
• Cold Hearted – The Tale of Victor Fries: The mix of cold blood and a warm heart. We examine the humanistic melt-down of Victor Fries in pursuit of a cure for his love, Nora.
• Character featurettes
The first season of “Gotham” was a bit of a rough venture, and it had me leery for the future of the show. Season 2 isn’t a wild amount better, but it is still on a definite upward slope at the moment. The characters seem to have caught their vibe and the show focuses less and less on Bruce Wayne as it does allowing Gordon to fight the crime (albeit still showing us quite a bit about how young Bruce turns into the man he will become later on in life), but this also brings its own set of problems. The last season introduced us to a ton of “soon to be” villains that Batman faces, but here they become more and more fleshed out even though said villains only rise to power years later in common Batman lore. I understand that “Gotham” is more a reimagining of the Batman universe and plays loose and fast with the time lines and details, but at this point most of Batman’s villains will geriatric and ready to retire by the time the Dark Knight makes his first appearance! Still, the show smoothed out a lot since the very rough opening season and poses some interesting escapes for next with the unleashing of Arkham’s unwanted at the end of Season 2. Audio and video are top notch, but sadly this season has MUCH less extras than the crammed set that came out last year. Still well worth a watch if you enjoyed the first season.
Starring: Ben McKenzie, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donal Logue
Created by: Bruno Heller
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Portuguese DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 960 minutes
Own it on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD August 16th, 2016
Buy Gotham: Season 2 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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