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Saturday, March 22, 2014 

Motley Fool believes Gotham TV series' chances aren't good

The Motley Fool reports plans are underway for filming a new TV series of Gotham, spotlighting James Gordon. But here's why they're uncertain it'll find success:
In Gotham, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are teenagers. Therein lies a problem for fans eager to compare Gotham with Time Warner (NYSE: TWX)/Warner Bros.' Smallville, the Superman prequel that ran for 10 seasons. Whereas Clark was well aware of his powers long before he donned the Superman costume, Bruce only becomes Batman after he comes an adult.

Therefore, Gotham follows the early career of James Gordon instead. On paper, that's not a terrible idea -- the concept has been explored in comics with classic storylines as Frank Miller's Year One and in film with Batman Begins. To keep the show connected to the Batman universe, the writers have also promised early incarnations of classic characters such as the Joker, Riddler, and Catwoman.

Yet in my opinion, this premise is half-baked and pretentious. Let's take a look at three factors that could cause this show to flop.

1. Introducing Bat-villains would be absurd
Smallville took huge liberties in squeezing in characters from the adult Clark Kent's life into his teenage years, but for the most part it held together.

However, anyone familiar with the Batman comics knows that most of the higher-profile villains in Batman's Rogues' Gallery don't appear until after Bruce dons the cape and cowl. The idea that the existence of Batman is responsible for the creation of villains like the Joker is repeatedly emphasized in the comics. The theme was also reinforced in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight -- in which the Joker says to Batman, " I won't kill you because you're just too much fun."

Introducing early versions of Batman villains, likely in winking homages, seems silly in a world where Bruce Wayne is only 14 years old.
I think only the Joker's existence was allegedly caused by Batman, whom the Clown Prince of Crime was fleeing from through a chemical factory in the Golden Age, and fell into a vat that turned his skin chalk white and mouth bright red like a clown. They could probably feature the Penguin and Scarecrow in this prequel to Bruce Wayne's adult life and it would look plausible enough. Yet there is a point that this could end up becoming more an excuse to throw in guest roles by familiar faces like Arrow's been doing in the 2 years it's been on the air. That's hardly a way to craft a serious crime series.

As for Smallville, I disagree it held together, since, in the latter half of its run, it all fell apart with conservative-bashing. In fact, like various TV shows of recent, there's still the chance Gotham could end up resorting to the same tactics, and if they do, it won't be good.

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As a huge Batman nerd, I'm cautiously optimistic (how many times is that phrase used these days?), but characters like Jon Crane and Oswald Cobblepot always struck me as a fair bit older than Batman. Also, I thought Bruce was going to be 10 years old in this show? Why a teen? Maybe they realized the age gap would be too great if he'd been a child. And if Selina is a teen too, I'm dreading that they'll shoehorn a teen romance in there (especially since the characters don't know each other until they're adults in most continuities). Here's hoping the show works, though.

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