I hate year-end lists.
I’ve been thinking through a series of posts about the religious elements at play in Gotham for a while now, mainly because I can’t decide how many posts to do, because there’s a whole lot of religious stuff in Gotham‘s creative mix, from its messianic villains to its portrayal of spiritual crisis, all underpinned by the general ideas of religious horror in its gothic DNA.
But even if I’m unsure of how to approach all these complex and difficult themes in this complex and difficult TV show, there’s one thing I’m already pretty certain about.
Gotham has a thing for bus symbolism, and it’s really weird.
I was bored the other day between shifts of exam supervision, and since I didn’t have time to produce anything actually worthwhile, I decided to do some top ten TV lists. I was gonna do movies too, but I ran out of time.
These top ten lists have no value whatsoever as criticism, as analysis or even as entertainment. My metrics are unclear, even to me. For some lists, a show can only appear on the list once, but for others, there is no such limit, and I have no explanation as to why, even to myself.
In fact, these lists are so uncertain and unstable that I stopped to change several of them halfway through the previous paragraph and I’m still not sure they signify anything. I also wrote a name over another name in one list but can’t tell or remember which one was written over the other.
But if you want a snapshot of how I would, largely arbitrarily, rank some of the TV shows I’ve watched in a series of top ten lists, at this exact moment in time, this might give you some shallow data, largely bereft of meaning.
I’ve been supervising exams in my hometown, so I haven’t really had the chance to sit down and right any of the more detailed blog posts I have in the works, such as my wide-reaching study of Gotham‘s bus symbolism, my paean to Brutalist architecture or any of my various insubstantial yet forcefully-held opinions about Hamilton.
But I am a maker of content in a content-driven economy, so why not put my philosophy degree to some use and ask one of the hard questions: what’s up with 12 Monkeys adapting Berkeley’s empirical idealism into a time-travel show?
I don’t want to talk about the second season finale of The Flash right now, because I’m still filled with an incommensurate rage at what happened, but I also need to talk about how The Flash repeatedly broke its own internal logic throughout the second half of the season and why it’s not pedantic fanwank to call it out – it’s just basic appreciation for the craft of writing.
Given so much of that internal logic is broken in the finale, it’s inevitable this article will become a finale review/season retrospective, so I have some brief thoughts on the ending first, and then a larger critique of how the writers of The Flash let the side down in the backhalf.
Gotham is not a perfect show, and maybe not even a good show. I’m not going to defend the crazy pacing of Penguin’s rehabilitation/relapse storyline, the utter waste of Tabitha or pretty much any of Bruce’s dialogue, at any point, ever. I’m not going to reverse any of the critiques I leveled against its first season, and I’m not going to pretend I’m not disappointed by the ways in which its second season has failed to live up to my highest hopes.
But there’s this notion about Gotham, most abrasively trumpeted by The AV Club, but parroted elsewhere as received knowledge, that Gotham is a show that struggles with its identity, and particularly that it’s “two shows, and never knows which it wants to be at any time” or some variation thereof.
This is not true now, nor has it ever been true. Gotham has a perfectly coherent identity, possibly one of the most rigidly-defined identities of any show on television right now.
In the very near future, all four superhero shows that will be airing on The CW as of this autumn – Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl – will have a four-way crossover event, as announced by the network’s president, Mark Pedowitz.
Congratulations, nerds, you have finally crossed the line from merely damaging the properties you claim to love to actively destroying them.