GOTHAM is the prequel series that promises to tell the story of Gotham City before Batman came on to the scene; we’re supposed to learn how things got so bad that only a man in a bat costume could save it. There’s fertile ground for lots of stories here to expand the Batman universe – but it could easily go off the rails. Sadly, the premiere episode set a direction of shrinking that world.
The series focuses of straight-arrow newbie Det. James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his crooked veteran partner, Det. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), and we learn about the corruption-plagued town through the eyes of Gordon and the evolution of Gotham City’s more bizarre criminal elements. Seems like a solid premise.
It was bound to happen: A viewer has to expect a clunker episode every now and then, and “Time Heist” landed with a thud. Ironic for an episode that relied on an intricate plan, this story seemed to have no real idea where it was going. It feels like a collection of neat ideas for scenes and a monster strung together in a very disjointed manner. I almost get the feeling that the direction was purposely muddled to try and camouflage the story’s shortcomings. It didn’t work.
Can anyone think of a more convoluted way to accomplish a very simple goal – provided you can figure out what the point of the story was; no easy task. The reveal of the Doctor’s master plan left me asking the TV screen, “That’s it? That’s what he wanted to accomplish? And he did it that way?”
After going for laughs last week with “Robot of Sherwood,” show runner Steven Moffat went for chills with this week’s script – and he succeeded on a very primal level. For TV, this was a damn scary episode, with some excellent atmospherics as opposed to the usual gore seen on shows like THE WALKING DEAD or HANNIBAL. In this DOCTOR WHO universe, the scariest thing in the universe is… a bedspread?
The Doctor’s quest to discover if any creature has mastered perfect camouflage – and what such a being might want – leads to an unexpected visit to the Doctor’s childhood, where Clara again has a huge influence over his life, ironically implanting ideas about fear and “the promise” implicit in the Doctor’s name.
Finally, some exposition! Finally, we get to learn a little bit about what has been happening. And, finally, some of my suspicions have been confirmed. See, it really isn’t all that hard to explain to the audience what is happening, INTRUDERS; all your mystery is not gone. In fact, we have new ones.
As the show was hinting, Richard Shepherd has been working off the books on the Marcus/Madison case – we just had no idea how far off the books he’s been working! Marcus asked him to shepherd him and bring him back when the time is right – so “shepherding” appears to be a different step than merely bringing someone back.
Funny thing about myths and legends: They have a way of taking on lives of their own. Look at the Doctor. He started out as a crotchety old man on a children’s show, and now look at him: a worldwide phenomenon beloved around the globe.
And Robin didn’t start out as a hero. He was a thief who grew into a folk hero, just like the Doctor. The Doctor will be the first to admit he’s not hero – he’s just the guy willing to step forward and make decisions when no one else will (See: “Voyage of the Damned). The 12th Doctor is still unsure if he’s even a good man, let alone a hero, so he resents meeting a man Clara regards as a hero – even if he never really existed. See the problem?
The crazy-quilt trip through American history continues, with SLEEPY HOLLOW’s “real” story of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride to warn the colonists that they were under siege. I think if history were taught like this is grade school, a lot more kids would pay attention. I know I would have!
Like the best such stories, there are nuggets of legitimate fact underneath the candy coating — for interest, Revers never shouted “The British are coming,” he discretely warned that “the Regulars are coming,” meaning the British fighting forces. And, of course, Paul Revere was hardly alone; he had supernatural cannon fodder two other guys helping.
Finally, a little time was devoted to Ichabod Crane’s backstory from the Revolutionary War period — specifically what he was doing for the British before switching sides to throw in with George Washington. And we got to see how Ichy met Katrina the Quaker witch.
But best of all, John Noble — the brilliant but wacky Walter Bishop from FRINGE — was back on our TV screens, playing another enigmatic character. I’m glad he’s sticking around for a few more episodes.
After watching a local baseball game with Abbie (Nicole Beharie), Ichabod (Tom Mison) decides to visit Katrina’s (Katia Winter) grave — where he is shot by a tranquilizer dart and kidnapped. Meanwhile, Abbie has a prophetic dream (while driving!) in which Katrina warns her that Ichy has been kidnapped, the Horseman is coming back, and if the Horseman is defeated, Crane will die because of their blood link. Ichabod needs to be “sanctified” by a sin eater before sundown. Abbie gets little sis Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) sprung for 24 hours because Jenny once came across a sin eater. And, as luck would have it, he lives only two hours away, in Hartford, Conn.