The Streets of Gotham City

Hot on the heels of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., FOX has announced a new show about the early days of Officer Jim Gordon patrolling the mean streets of Gotham City–pre-Batman and before Jim is Police Commissioner. This is a rich subject with a lot of potential. So, I’m in!

In some comic book continuity, Jim Gordon has two kids, Barbara, known to lovers of the ’60s Batman children’s show as Batgirl (this would be way before she was inspired by Batman to become Batgirl) and Jim Junior, a dangerous psychopath. He’s got a wife and hot co-worker Sara Essen, who makes moonie eyes at him. There are literally thousands of stories about Gordon. I’m sure that the show won’t be beholden to comic book continuity. But the broad strokes are that Jim is a straight arrow on the world’s most corrupt police force. He doesn’t rat on the other cops, but tries in his own quiet way to help who he can.

Another piece of good news: Bruno Heller is the showrunner. Most of you might know him as the creator of The Mentalist, a show which I like, but don’t love. But before that, he created HBO’s Rome, which was awesome. And both The Mentalist and Rome show that Heller likes a serial story.

Oddly, the announcements I see don’t mention whether or not this is finally the TV show based on the short-lived Ed Brubaker / Greg Rucka comic book series, Gotham Central, about what it is like to be a police in Gotham City. Batman was involved with that series and they already said he isn’t on the show. But this could easily have the supporting cast of the comic and have a few tweaks. The idea of the comic is what it is like to investigate the crazy Batman crimes as normal cops. For instance, you find a guy frozen to death as a block of ice in a hotel room in some kind of diamond deal gone wrong with Mr. Freeze. What then? What if your investigation actually leads you to Mr. Freeze, against whom a couple of normal people don’t stand a chance? So, it’s like NYPD Blue, except in Gotham City, where crazy stuff happens all the time.

Gotham Central Note: If you like Batman, buy yourself the excellent Gotham Central trades.

Gotham City Note: One of my favorite parts of the wonderful Nolan Batman film, Dark Knight is the beginning where they are robbing the bank and the guy who is the bank manager or something comes at them with a shotgun and threatens them with death. That’s Gotham City!

For those of you not familiar with the comics, Batman has easily one of the best supporting casts in any medium. Gotham City has been around since 1939 and has a lot of history. I could name at least seven policemen in Gotham City right off the top of my head and I’m not nearly the craziest Batman fan I know. And many of the villains predate Batman’s existence (in comic book continuity), although most of them were driven insane by their contact with Batman. Like, I think the Riddler was just a guy who liked Riddles and moral turpitude until Batman inspired him to don the green. Even thou, gentle reader, could probably name at least five Gothamites just from living in the world. How about the Penguin? Maybe Aunt Harriet? And I bet everyone reading this article knows who Commissioner Gordon is. Gads, will the Waynes be alive? They were high profile!

Aunt Harriet Note: I think she was created for the ’60s show and won’t be represented.

Gotham Police Note: Renee Montoya, Harvey Bullock, Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver, Jim Corrigan, Maggie Sawyer, and, of course, Jim Gordon. I could probably work up more if you gave me a minute. I mentioned Sara Essen above, but I had to look her up.

There’s a story that Gotham Central was in development when the idiotic Birds of Prey hit the small screen and that Christopher Nolan asked Warner Bros. (who own DC Comics, who publish Batman) to not do any other Batman TV until his movies were done. Smallville was famously supposed to be about Bruce Wayne (it probably would have had a different title).

Birds of Prey Note: Man, did I want to like Birds of Prey. One idiotic thing they did was to give the Huntress, in that universe, the daughter of Catwoman and Batman, cat powers. I even hate saying it. They didn’t learn from their mistakes either and Halle Berry had cat powers in her terrible Catwoman movie, which I saw on a bad date in a drive-in. Cat powers! Catwoman doesn’t have cat powers! She’s a cat burglar! The most cursory investigation would show that!

Jim Gordon is a great character. I loved the way that Gary Oldman dialed back his crazy to play Gordon. Hell, I liked Pat Hinkle in the old Tim Burton movies. This isn’t a can’t-miss idea. But lovingly handled? It’s a great idea.