Gotham: The Complete Second Season
Review by KC Carlson
I think that my favorite thing about TV show DVD/Blu-ray box sets is that I can watch the shows when I want to and at the frequency that I want to. Like this set of Gotham season two I’m currently working my way through.
I hated watching this series live on TV last season. They’d spend five or six episodes building up a huge head of atmospheric steam and have several great storylines or subplots headed toward fever pitch, and then — BANG! The show goes on hiatus for five or six weeks. Not cool, Fox. But that’s what happens when you try to spread 22 episodes of TV over 32-40 weeks… a lot of boredom during hiatus time. But that’s modern TV, I guess.
I learned to save up several episodes on the DVR and binge them when the arc was done. I sort of think that’s what the producers intend for us to do, because they don’t waste much time talking down or spelling things out for the audience. Isn’t that what good TV should do? (Despite the fact that advertisers hate viewers like me. Tough. Make better commercials, and I’d love to watch them!)
So I didn’t enjoy watching Gotham season two when it aired, but I’m loving watching it on Blu-ray, where I set the pace of how many episodes I watch in a single sitting, as well as being able to go back and get a double take of a well-written or -acted scene or freeze-frame to wonder “did Barbara really just do that?”
Lots of new, great stuff this season. I love them teasing the Joker. (Maybe. I really have no idea what they’re doing there.) If you want to find out more, watch the special feature “Maniax Jerome”. Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow) gets a long story arc trying various cryogenic experiments on his chronically ill wife. Hmmm, that sounds familiar, somehow… But the main new bad guy (or is he?) is new Gotham City mayor Theo Galavan (James Frain), who takes Gotham by storm and manages to encounter most all of the regular cast at one point or the other during the season. Plus, there are appearances of new-to-the-series characters like Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong), Azrael, and even Matches Malone (Michael Bowen) — plus the shocking return of someone long thought dead. (Just like the comic books!)
But the main cast also encounters new and strange problems this season. James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) has the longest, hardest, and most difficult arc of the season as he eventually runs afoul of the new Police Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), gets drummed out of the force, and finishes up his long downwards spiral inside Arkham Asylum! His discouraged partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) bottoms out. Can he pull himself together to aid Gordon in his time of need?
Young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) not only meets the young Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Alyn Lind) but reaches a new level of understanding and bonding with Alfred (Sean Pertwee). As hinted at above, Barbara Gordon (Erin Richards) has a season-long storyline as she progressively spirals downwards into criminal insanity.
Speaking of criminals, at least two are regular cast members, and both reached major turning points in their lives at the end of the first season. Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin) (Robin Lord Taylor) finds himself as the current Kingpin of Crime (whoops, wrong company…). Can he maintain it in season two? Meanwhile, Edward Nigma’s (Cory Michael Smith) passion for a co-worker leads to an unplanned but weirdly passionate double murder in the first season. Will he crack under the strain? Is that a riddle?
Besides the 22 full-length episodes, this new Gotham second season set has numerous extras. Pretty much all of them on discs 1-3 (on Blu-ray) are all EPK (Electronic Press Kit) fodder, with most of them being just clips of two minutes or less. There’s the “Gotham 2015 Comic-Con panel”, which, since they showed the season premiere at the panel, and then spent four minutes just introducing the cast/panelists, makes this feature only about 12 minutes long — just long enough for everybody to answer one question — and for Geoff Johns to say that Batman is “better than Sherlock Holmes”, which sure didn’t go over well in this household.
Disc 4 has some actual special features, including a way-cool 25-minute featurette called “Gotham by Noir Light”, which explains how and why the elements of film noir are so important to the production and storytelling of Gotham. Don’t miss that one! Also informative is the almost 20-minute look at “Alfred: Batman’s Greatest Ally”, spotlighting this history of the character in the comics as well as Sean Pertwee’s excellent performance as the character. My favorite comment of his explains how both Bruce and Alfred suffer from PTSD because of their history. Finally, the 10-minute “Cold-Hearted: The Tale of Victor Fries” shows the tragic journey of Victor in becoming Mr. Freeze.
Gotham Season Two. Good show. Great four-disc Blu-ray set. (The studio provided a review copy.)