IGN

While interviewed by IGN at the Television Critics Association press tour, Fox TV president Gary Newman casually mentioned that he’d be open to making a spinoff of the Batman prequel show Gotham, based perhaps on one of the show’s many villains. No. No.

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Let me clarify: Newman did not say he was making a Gotham spinoff, or ordering a pilot for a Gotham spinoff, or even that he had been thinking about a Gotham spinoff before someone asked him about it. And yet, a Gotham spinoff is such a terrible idea that I must speak, lest this terrible destiny come to pass.

Gotham is a bad show. Now, I watch it, and often I even enjoy it. But it is not a well-made show full of rich, compelling characters. It is a mess. It is a show about a bunch of insane, terrible people doing insane, terrible things, in a world that ostensibly is leading to the Batman universe while the show actually works to destroy every fundament of the Batman universe that we know.

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This is a world where Jim Gordon, ostensibly the only good cop in Gotham, is willing to shoot an unarmed criminal in the face (while he’s tied up!) just in case he commits future crimes. It’s a world where Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred is not just willing, but happy, to threaten and hit children. It is a world where Edward Nygma, the man who will become the supervillain known as the Riddler, works in the Gotham City Police Department at a medical examiner, tells people riddles all the time, and even drinks out of a mug with a question mark on it, and yet is somehow supposed to eventually go on to a viable criminal.

Gotham is terrible—but entertainingly so. It is the television equivalent of bad fast food. You may enjoy it, but not only it is bad for you, it also makes you feel guilty and ashamed for enjoying it, even as you’re consuming it.

And we absolutely do not need any more of it.

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Continuing with my bad fast food analogy, too much crappy food would inevitably make us throw up, but that’s not even the real problem (although I do suspect news of a Gotham spinoff would, in fact, make me vomit). It’s that what is marginally a treat when it comes once a week is purely disgusting when consumed twice a week.

And meanwhile, who would the show actually star? There’s no way the show would separate Gordon from his professional partner Bullock, or his romantic partner Leslie Tompkins. As for the villains, making a show about one of the kids—Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Hush and Firefly—would be a hard sell. Two-Face isn’t Two-Face yet, and he’s not supposed to become Two-Face until after Batman begins his career. Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange are coming, but they haven’t really been introduced yet. Jerome, the kid who was not the Joker but acted exactly like the Joker, is dead. Other villains have been introduced, but almost none of them have lasted more than an episode or so.

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In fact, there are only two villains “big” enough to theoretically support their own shows: the Riddler and the Penguin. Would you watch a hour-long show abut Edward Nygma, the nerdy riddle aficionado who is somehow so stupid as to have accidentally murdered his girlfriend by hushing her? (Seriously.) Even despite his penchant for unintentionally killing people, he’s far too slight a character to carry an entire show—he’s interesting solely as a piece of Gotham’s cast.

That leaves the Penguin, inarguably the best villain of the show, who’s played by breakout star Robin Lord Taylor. Honestly, Fox could make a show about Oswald Cobblepot’s rise to power in Gotham City’s criminal underworld; actually, to a large extent that’s what Gotham actually is. A show about the Penguin would literally just be Gotham minus Jim Gordon, which is not actually the worst idea in the world.

However! Please imagine Gotham minus the Penguin—it would be unwatchable. Taking away the show’s most interesting character might make for a great spin-off, but it would diminish Gotham to the point where you’re basically trading one show for another. Again, in fast food terms: A stale bun, some cardboard-esque American cheese, a bit of wilted lettuce and an patty of greasy, indeterminate meat make a cheeseburger. Take out the meat patty and what you’re left with is actually just garbage.

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Look, Fox. I know superhero TV shows are all the rage, and you want more. What network wouldn’t? But even despite Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Constantine, Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, and everything else, there are literally hundreds of DC heroes, villains, teams and comics that you could bring to live-action—and should bring to live-action—before you double down on an existing superhero series (on this subject: A second Agents of SHIELD show? Come on, Marvel. There are other options).

In fact, I seem to recall TNT recently passing on a Teen Titans live-action series. Don’t you think that might be a slightly more interesting, more watched show than a Gotham spin-off?

No? Then you might as well make a Gotham prequel, because you’re clearly as crazy as everyone else on this goddamn show.

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Contact the author at rob@io9.com.