Episode recap: Gotham S.1, Ep. 3 — The Balloonman


balloonmanGotham’s “The Balloonman” takes a much different tone than prior episodes—  You can almost see the visible growing pains as it flexes, to find its footing within the market of genres.  It is almost as-if the bloat of Gotham is weighing heavily upon the FOX’s executives’ and producers’ shoulders.  It is solidly placed, but they are still beginning to show signs of television fatigue.  That careful balance between cop show and comic book show still hasn’t been fleshed out properly by Gotham, but it stretches to get closer still with “The Balloonman.”

“The Balloonman” is the first episode to hit home on the episodic nature that Gotham needs to get into.  Like I’ve mentioned before, Gotham is struggling to appease comic book fans and television goers and—for granted—Batman is a force to reckoned with.  The iconic Caped Crusader has spawned countless successful media properties over the course of several decades and comic book-wise it continues to reach the top of the charts in terms of sales and accolades.  However, how do you make a series about Batman not be about Batman, and still keep fans coming back for more each and every week?  You make it a cop show centered-around the GCPD.

Gotham begins to hit its cop show stride with “The Balloonman.”  It begins to break away—albeit just for a moment—from the disjointed campiness of past installments, “The Balloonman” tries to shake its identity crisis by picking a formula and sticking to it.  Focusing on a criminal that is (you guessed it) attaching balloons to ‘legitimate’ criminals and sending them sky high to their deaths is more-interesting than past villains, merely because Jada Pinkett Smith’s overacted portrayal of Fish Mooney isn’t involved…anything without her is better.

However, even with the inclusion of a minor criminal that draw the attention of GCPD for just a moment is better than before, but it is still…well…Balloonman.  The episode tries to embrace a cop drama, but it is still executed rather poorly.  I praise the effort, but for Gotham to survive it needs to take a creative cue from similar supernatural cop dramas such as ABC’s ForeverForever takes a cliche premise, but back it up with a clever slant and an episodic quality that draws audience members for an hour-long, twisty and clever journey through the investigative process.

This is what Gotham needs to be.

The writing for “The Balloonman” is fairly straight-forward and there isn’t even an attempt at providing a feint or a ‘food for thought’ moment for the audience  The writing belittles fans in its simplicity, and if you are up to date on your actors and their respective appearances it will be quite easy for you to immediately spot the non sequitur…and thus the Balloonman.

Even though the writing is lackluster, I do appreciate the angle that they are trying to take, more-so than a superhero epic that is forced to exclude Batman due to the premise.  In my opinion, for Gotham to survive and be a multiple spanning series it desperately needs to become a ‘cop show.’  It needs to invest in providing in depth investigations with surprises and unusualness, all the while focusing on the character growth and camaraderie of Detective James Gordon and Harvey Bullock.

Unfortunately, at this juncture, television shows such as Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are doing it better.  If you’re inclined to catch a superhero show to fill in the time between the films, check out the aforementioned shows, because Gotham isn’t cutting it…yet.

(SOURCE: Episode recap: Gotham S.1, Ep. 3 — The Balloonman)

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4 thoughts on “Episode recap: Gotham S.1, Ep. 3 — The Balloonman

  1. I have to agree. In fact, this, so far, has been the last episode I’ve watched of Gotham. I feel like I should watch the most recent two, but honestly there is nothing drawing me in about this show. It really doesn’t feel like the writers/producers know what they want to do with it (or else they just have no clue how to make it work at all). They are trying to shoehorn too much fan service in while at the same time failing to make a compelling cop drama. I frankly love the idea of a show that focuses on a young James Gordon as he finds his way through the corruption of the GCPD, but I find none of the actors really all that compelling…including Gordon himself, and in fact, I find most of them annoying (especially Mr. I’m Going To Act Just Like Michael Cain And Ignore All the Much Better Portrayals of Alfred). I agree that there are far too many shows doing it better to waste much time on Gotham. Maybe I’ll try and sit down for the most recent episodes, but I think I’ve reached my limit.

    1. Unfortunately, Gotham has been quite underwhelming. I’ve been clinging on for my interest in comic books and the viewership on my episode recaps has been high, but compared with Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it just isn’t cutting it for me.

      I’ll stick it out this season–plus my wife is a huge Batman Family fan, so I don’t think she’ll stop regardless of quality–but if it doesn’t find its identity soon it’ll be a grimace watch.

      1. I think I’ll just have to watch for any other reviews you put up here to keep an eye on how you think it is doing. I just have so little time to put so much energy into a show that isn’t really doing much for me. I really need to catch up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. though. We had a couple moves this year so I kind of lost track of that one. I’m digging Flash so far though, a little annoyed with this most recent episode, but I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on that one.

      2. I’ll try to get you abreast, especially if it improves dramatically. I should be caught up recap-wise by Monday’s episode.

        S.H.I.E.L.D. has been phenomenal. I really enjoyed last season, but the new one blows it away. My wife and I ended up doing a season one marathon to catch-up before the season two premiere.

        Your review of The Flash is phenomenal by the way. I look forward to reading more on your thoughts about the new series.

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