Hard-Traveling Fanboys: Off the Page (#GothamSucks)

Mild-mannered reporters by day, Greg Phillips and Nick Duke share an intense love of comic books that has made them the Hard-Traveling Fanboys. During their time at placetobenation.com, the Fanboys have shared numerous opinions and have found some common ground and some areas of discord both among themselves and with the rest of the P2B Comics Staff. However, perhaps no topic has unified the Fanboys and the rest of the staff quite the way the television show “Gotham” has. With that in mind, we proudly present #gothamsucks.

Nick: After months of making you wait for it with bated breath, the Hard-Traveling Fanboys are finally ready to unveil our brand new column concept that we will (probably….maybe….) be bringing to you the fourth Friday of each and every month. That’s right, it’s time for #gothamsucks.

MV5BMjMzNTU3MDY3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjY1Nzg3MTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Greg: After two years of writing this column, it’s become evident that we must be into torture. We’ve sat through such gems as “Pryde of the X-Men” and “Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation” and lived to talk about it. But perhaps that just wasn’t enough. No, we believe I suffering for our art. So here we go, taking on Fox’s series about Batman’s city before he came to be … well, Batman.

It’s a good enough premise, but sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you’d hoped.

Nick: Yeah, if anyone was ready and willing to give a show focused on Jim Gordon more than a fair shot, it was me. And I’ll admit, I hesitated on ripping the show to shreds after the first few episodes. It had to get better. It was just finding its footing, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.

So, with all that said, this column will see us look back on Gotham’s disastrous first season in something akin to a live blog. Tonight, we’re taking on the show’s first two episodes — the brilliantly named “Pilot” and “Selina Kyle.”

So, if you have the heart, fire up your favorite streaming device, access your Netflix account and prepare for pain. Oh, and if the show just isn’t quite bad enough for you, there are always Gotham drinking games out there for those so inclined. We’ll be watching both episodes straight through, so if you press play on the pilot, you’ll be good to go.

And here … we … go.

Greg: OK, the Gotham cityscape looks pretty cool.

Nick: Ok, we’ve got a young girl running on rooftops.

Her reflexes seem rather ….catlike?

Greg: Basically Nolan’s Gotham, visually.

Yes, she’s rather precocious.

Nick: Ah, she stole some milk. She likes milk….like a cat.

And oh look, a cat.

Greg: She likes cats!

I have a feeling the Waynes will get out of this situation just fine.

Nick: Ok, here’s the iconic Wayne murder scene. Nothing too terrible here. Same thing you’d expect — robber, gun, pearls, etc.

Greg: Except the girl is watching from above.



Nick: LOL.

That was high voice Peyton Manning-esque.

Young Bruce would fit in great.
Young Bruce would fit in great.

Greg: He should join the Four Tunesmen.

Nick: This has to be the most insecure police station of all time, right? I know this is only the first episode, but a full-on attack or hostage situation in the station happens in seemingly every episode.

Greg: The lighting is really weird in the Gotham P.D.

Nick: On a side note, no one can keep up with the Gotham drinking game. It’s only for the most seasoned binge drinkers.

Greg: Ooh, Gordon made a rebellious move and Bullock lectured him. Surely that won’t happen again. See, it’s inverting our expectations of Gordon being by the book.

Nick: I mean, with rules like “Finish Your Drink when there is an attack or hostage situation inside the Gotham PD,” you’re pretty much just pounding your drink the entire time.

It’s like the show doesn’t know who it wants to be the “by the book” one. Gordon seems to be by the actual book, while Bullock just doesn’t want to rock the corrupt boat.

Greg: See, this scene — a touching conversation between Bruce and Jim — is really good.

Nick: It’s a good scene, but the dialogue is pretty God awful.

“There WILL be light!”

Greg: Yes, definitely. Jim God-on

Young Bruce, as is the case with most child actors, is inconsistent in the series, but he did well there.

Nick: Aaaaand enter what is far and away the best part of this show — Alfred.

Greg: Here comes the MVP.

Nick: “Head up, eyes front, don’t let them see you cry.”

Just great stuff already.

The Alfred-Bruce relationship is undoubtedly the highlight of this series.
The Alfred-Bruce relationship is undoubtedly the highlight of this series.

Greg: So far, so decent.

Why are there flickering neon lights EVERYWHERE?

Nick: Hey, Bullock drinks Mylanta and chases it with booze. How quirky and charming!

And a JJ Abrams-like lense flare there for some reason.

Oh man, the mayor is among the worst actors.

Greg: It’s the guy from Spin City!

Nick: Hey, you know how Sarah Essen is a contemporary of Gordon’s in the comics?

Not here!

Greg: Here, Essen is Gordon’s boss and elder.

Nick: This dialogue is so damn on the nose. Subtlety has no place here.

Greg: My God. It’s like the actors are just reading each other’s character descriptions from the script.

Nick: “You’re a cynic! A lazy, lackadaisical cynic!”

More swinging and flickering lights.

“If I want RIDDLES, I’ll read the funny pages!”


Greg: Everybody loves a montage.

Nick: Again, the subtlety is overwhelming.

Greg: “You need professional help, Nygma.” Get it?!?!

Nick: Now comes perhaps the show’s most divisive character. You either love or hate Fish Mooney and Jada Pinkett Smith’s performance. Guess which side we fall on?

Greg: Why is Fish Mooney torturing ESPN’s Chris Broussard?

chrisbroussardNick: LOL


Greg: I can take or leave Fish … at least early on. But Penguin, a.k.a. The Lead Singer of Good Charlotte? Not so much.

Nick: “You know I don’t like to be called that!!!”

Greg: LOL!

“Yeah. Take it easy, PENGUIN!”

Nick: Gordon’s face of begrudging acceptance is pretty funny.

Helllllllllooooooooooo, Barbara Keane.

It makes complete sense he’d rather be with Essen eventually.

Greg: Ah, you’re forgetting another character that won’t be introduced for a while.

Barbara is stealing the scene, that’s for sure.

Nick: God, a flip phone. Is this 2002? Or just Greg‘s apartment?

Greg: Ah, the 1950s transition from making out to a fireplace.

Grundy reference! Probably the most subtle comics allusion in the show.

Nick: Oof.

Because Ivy can’t just be a name she’s naturally drawn to and takes on herself. It has to be her REAL name.

Greg: Pamela Isley, reimagined as Ivy Pepper.

Nick: Just an example of how this show treats its audience like complete idiots.

And there goes the fastest fat man this side of Jared Lorenzen.

Greg: “Pearl necklace sound familiar?” “… No?” LOL


Nick: Was that a Chinese sweatshop?

Greg: I … I think so.

Why did the guy yell?

Nick: Ah, the most common fight scene sin — every blow is a haymaker or a swing for the fences.

Greg: Can’t he stab without yelling? Think of the neighbors!

And Gordon, a military hero, needs help beating an overweight thug.

Nick: That string of pearls looks surprisingly intact.

Greg: “Hero cops” has got to be the most common phrase in Hollywood newspapers.

Good Charlotte Penguin seems like a trustworthy source.

Supervillain or lead singer of mediocre pop punk band?
Supervillain or lead singer of mediocre pop punk band?

Nick: Penguin is nothing if not a master manipulator. No way anyone can see through his well-hidden scheme.

Greg: How does nobody notice a young girl at a funeral attended by seemingly hundreds?

Nick: Ahhhhh, my favorite subplot.

Greg: The go-nowhere Renee-Barbara relationship.

Nick: Well, it does go SOMEWHERE, ah thank you.

Greg: That was sub-Days of Our Lives acting.

And I’d know.

Ah, the beginning of Gordon’s Batman voice!

Nick: She likes plants.

That was actually a fairly nice touch. A legitimately clever callback to Bruce’s brief description of the killer.

Greg: Rare nuance.

Gordon visits what becomes his home away from home, Fish’s office.

Nick: God, this dialogue. It’s like a parody of a crime movie.

Greg: “You just did.” Very good work, Mr. Powers.

Nick: This show does love its obscured views of things, whether it’s poor lighting or implied wooziness.

Greg: This scene reminds me of The Transporter for some reason.

Nick: “Fresh.” Someone just used “fresh” in conversation. Unbelievable.

Ah, the first of many Joker red herrings.

Greg: The first of exactly 3,471.


Nick: It’s early, but Gordon and Bullock have to be among the most physically ineffectual cops of all time.

Greg: And mentally.

They’re incapable of solving anything without obvious clues dumped in their laps. But admittedly that hasn’t been seen yet in the pilot.

Nick: Gotta love off-screen events bring referenced as if we should all know what happened.


Greg: Yep. The dramatic music also assumes I care a lot more about these characters than I actually do.

Nick: I had forgotten all about Penguin gettin’ his whoopin’!

Almost makes this all worth it. Almost.

Greg: That was cathartic.

Nick: Wow.

An actual medieval executioner’s outfit.

Greg: The gimp from Pulp Fiction!

medium_image-5381f85e4150502ffe7a0000-coalescedNick: See, I was hoping it was Vernon Wells under the hood.

Greg: Vintage Gotham with the convenient save.

Bullock gets a nice comedic moment there.

Nick: Is it wrong I don’t entirely hate this version of Falcone?

Not yet, anyway.

Greg: Gotham is on a knife edge … chop?

Nick: Oh, man. This show needs some Flair.

Greg: “I’ll take Fish home and make a woman out of her!”

Ric-Flair-WooMore Batman voice from Jim.

Nick: So is Penguin is a fortune teller? Maybe he’s this universe’s Lyssa Drak.

Greg: Jim should’ve asked him for lottery numbers.

Nick: As much as I want to love Gordon, I’m starting to get the impression that “blank stare” is his version of emoting.


Stealing literally EVERY scene he’s in.

Greg: Alfred is great. Bruce talking about conquering fear? Not so much. He comes off almost too eager rather than serious. Then a second later he’s super intense.

Disciplinarian Alfred is the best.

Nick: Ok, Selina’s faraway perches could stand to be a little more, ya know, FAR AWAY.

Greg: Again, why is she perched on a ledge for no reason?!

And how did Gordon miss her?

Nick: And not just a ledge, but a low ledge that she could easily be seen on by anyone with the vision of Mr. Magoo.

To be perfectly honest, though, that wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered.

Oh no, here comes the second episode.

Emo Bruce is burning himself.

YES! Alfred!

How did they get him so right and everything else so wrong?

Selina with her Becky Lynch-style steampunk goggles.

Greg: Are those hobos burning themselves too?

Cat! So that’s her name!

Nick: I wonder if she winds up being anyone important.

Greg: So much for Gotham’s gritty realism.

Actual Gotham villains.
Actual Gotham villains.

Nick: There she is perching again.

Greg: “Aw fudge!”

People are shooting bums all the time, apparently. Why would anybody live here?

Nick: They handle interrogations so eloquently.

Greg: “We’re grown up, we’re bigger than you! We’re higher in the food chain! Get in my belly!”

Nick: Oh, here we go.

Greg: Oh boy.

Nick: Penguin and his fratboy friends.

Greg: He hates being called that!

In case you forgot.

Nick: Man, he loves telling his life story to random strangers.


Greg: Phi Kappa Douche showing patience as Penguin recites terrible philosophy.



Greg: Penguins consume fish!

My God, I wonder if he plans to overtake Fish?

Nick: When he does, it’ll be a brilliant plan no one will see coming.

Greg: I admit, I have a soft spot for Butch.

Nick: He’s not so bad. And at least the actor playing Falcone is decent, even if his material is far from it.

And it’s a small thing, but I DESPISE the “Fowl-cone” pronunciation here. I’m a strict “Fal-kon-ee” guy. It’s like a much smaller version of the “Raz” vs “Raysh” debate.

Greg: Agreed! It irks me for some reason.

Maroni’s the number two man. His name? Number Two.

Number-Two-Austin-PowersNick: That was an altogether not at all terrible scene.

Until that.



Greg: I liked the humanization of Fish.


Nick: Awwwww, here it goes.


Nick: There are literally no words to describe this.

Greg: Mrs. KAP-EL-POOT!

Nick: If you haven’t seen it, you must see Mrs. KAPUHLPOOT. It must be seen to be believed.

Greg: What in God’s name are they even going for with this?


Gotham's ode to Tim Burton ... I guess.
Gotham’s ode to Tim Burton … I guess.

Nick: It’s pretty much just Carol Kane doing her character’s voice from Taxi. Which was like 40 years ago.

Incest seems to be the case.

Greg: But he is, Fish! He is still alive!

Nick: Yeah, I was going to kill you. What can I say? I’m a stickler.

Greg: We’re looking for a man and a woman. Middle aged. White. That narrows it down.

Nick: Yeah, there can’t be many of those running around.

Greg: Or running for president.

Nick: Hello, Barbara. Nice to see you again.

They apparently live in a world where Caller ID is an impossible technology to acheive.

Greg: Oh, let’s not get into the weird time period issues this show has.

We should save that for the typewriter episode.

Caller ID? Perish the thought.


Nick: IT IS!!!!!


"And I say to you that the great state a Mississippi cannot afford four more years a Pappy O'Daniel - four more years a cronyism, nepotism, racialism and service to the Innarests! The choice, she's a clear 'un: Pappy O'Daniel, slave a the Innarests; Homer Stokes, soivant a' the little man! Ain't that right, little fella?"
“And I say to you that the great state a’ Mississippi cannot afford four more years a’ Pappy O’Daniel – four more years a’ cronyism, nepotism, racialism and soivice to the Innarests! The choice, she’s a clear ‘un: Pappy O’Daniel, slave a the Innarests; Homer Stokes, soivant a’ the little man! Ain’t that right, little fella?”

Nick: YES! YES! YES!

Greg: He belongs to a soitan society, he don’t think he needs to say its name …

Nick: Is they is or is they ain’t his constituency?

Greg: These villains ain’t even old timey!

Nick: A……monkey riding a racehorse?

What does it all mean, Basil?

Greg: Some of the worst, least sensible dialogue this side of Monday Night Raw.

Nick: Turning off the lights is their weakness. Never mind all the ambient light pouring into the room from the window adjacent to the street.

Greg: Y’know, this guy’s got a well-run villainous campaign – broom, midget and whatnot.

Now that Jim shot the guy, he needs to find him at the bottom of the well and take off his old farmer mask to see who it really is.

Nick: Alfred. Always a good decision.

Death metal/emo Bruce. How can you not just love the hell out of it?

Greg: Death Metal Bruce … kind of makes sense. A little.

Cat’s just so sassy!

The female villain is Ivory from Right to Censor.

13013040Nick: They is most definitely not his constituency.

Greg: He’ll help Jim and Harvey … so long as they help clean Pappy outta office!

Nick: I literally do not understand how she isn’t being seen here.

None of the seats go all the way down to the floor. Her feet should be visible at all times from the front of the bus.

Greg: Her hair seems easily visible.

I’m putting that one on the director/editor.

Confusing scene.

Nick: Yes, a young girl left half-inch deep gash marks across a man’s face with her bare hands. Of course she did.

Finally her poor choice in perches has cost her.

Greg: These 1950s bad guys seem at odds with the show’s 2015 gritty cop drama presentation.

Nick: Epiphany one scene, timely rescue the next. Green Lantern-esque.

Greg: What the heck kind of transition was that?!

From the rescue to Wayne Manor?

Nick: Again, Green Lantern-esque. The GL movie, of course. Not the comic.

Greg: Terrible lines and delivery here from Bruce. “I feel very sorry for those poor children.”

Nick: Bruce jumps between acting like an adult and a naive child faster than is easily digestible.

Her handling is awful and her dialogue is atrocious, but the characterization and acting for young “Cat” is about as good as you can expect from this show.

Camren Bicondova has proven surprisingly adept at acting despite her youth and the scripts she's given.
Camren Bicondova has proven surprisingly adept at acting despite her youth and the scripts she’s given.

Greg: Definitely agreed. She’s one of the show’s standouts, alongside Alfred and … uh, Butch.

Nick: Aaaand back to Penguin, who has had NOTHING to do with the overall plot of this episode. Feels really disjointed and out of place if you ask me.

Greg: “You must be quite the scamp.”

She goes by Cat, damnit!

Nick: She’s a girl named Cat. Perhaps one day she’ll become a woman. Also named Cat. A Woman-Cat, if you will.

Is….is that it?

Greg: Thankfully, that’s all, as we end on a cliffhanger involving information the audience already knew.

And it feels like most of the threads set up in the pilot are being burned through awfully quick.

Nick: Yeah, but I have little doubt there will be THRILLING new threads to tug on in the coming episodes.

Well, I guess that about does it for us on the first-ever edition of #gothamsucks. Be sure to check back next month for more suckage, including a look at one of Greg‘s favorite episodes — “Balloonman.”

Greg: I can’t wait!

If you’d like to vent about Gotham, or if you disagreed with us, let us know! Send us an email at GregP@placetobenation.com or NickD@placetobenation.com, head on over to the Place To Be Nation Comics page on Facebook, or hit us up on Twitter (@gphillips8652 and @nickduke87)!