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Superhero Showdown: ‘Gotham’ Episode 2 “Selina Kyle” Review

With only Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham airing right now, it’s not much of a showdown, so let’s talk the continuing disappointment of Gotham.

After just two weeks, I already want to stop watching. “If you don’t bend, you’ll get broke,” someone stupid says early on in “Selina Kyle,” the second episode of the show, that for the first half, has nothing to do with Selina Kyle. Well, this show doesn’t bend at all. It’s so stunted and formulaic, it already feels broken. If it wasn’t called Gotham, I probably would drop the show. That’s exactly why FOX wanted this show so badly, but so far, the results aren’t there. It’s probably the most disappointing fall show thus far. Gotham is a mediocre cop show filled with stereotypical characters; the city itself is brimming with crooked cops or just plain lazy and bad ones. Jim Gordon is the only decent human on the force, and it’s annoying, depressing and frustrating. Gordon doesn’t stand out because he’s the lone eagle of justice or whatever, he stands out because he’s the only one actually doing his job. Ben McKenzie is good at playing exasperated and angry, but I only want to share feelings of exasperation for so long.

Gotham aims to be a “dark” and cool superhero cop show, and it comes out as one of the cheesiest representation of comic-book based material on TV. In this episode we have Emo Bruce, burning his hands on candles to “test” himself, an already tired simmering turf war between Falcone and Fish Mooney. Seconds after their meeting, Fish screams: “Everyone out!” Not only is that bad for business, but I feel like Falcone would notice EVERYONE leaving the bar in his wake, and get curious. Jada Pinkett Smith is trying so hard, that she’s become a cartoon villain, supplied only with cringe worthy lines.

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Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswalt Cobblepot isn’t quite there, and he’s at least having fun, murdering frat bro’s on the highway (DON’T CALL ME PENGUIN), and setting up shop in a hovel of a lair. Lili Taylor and Frank Whaley play two child snatchers working for the Dollmaker (who’s already shown up on Arrow), and while the story itself is whatever, I actually found myself enjoying their gooey goody two-shoes Boy Scouts veneer plastered onto a pair of killers. The show apparently will have nods to the Joker in almost every episode, and maybe you could see these loons as that reference this week (Lili Taylor as Harley Quinn would be a nightmare scenario), after the stand-up comic last week.

They’re rounding up the kids of Gotham, and manage to capture Selina KyleCat, Gotham’s very own voyeur Aladdin. Cat escapes because Gordon and Bullock are around, barely. In order to secure her release from a foster program upstate, she dangles her bait: she saw who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents. Oooooh. There are several other Easter Eggs throughout the episode, but none particularly interesting (unless you’re giddy that Arkham Asylum has been closed for 15 years). But more DC characters are coming, as Nicholas D’Agostino (Masters of Sex) has been hired to play a young assistant District Attorney named Harvey Dent. You may have heard of the man who will become Two-Face. Adding in more characters at this point only ensures more mind-numbing teases of the future, rather than focusing on a compelling show in the present. We’ll see if that changes next week in “The Balloonman,” which I hope is a Helium aided villain.

While we wait for Flash and Arrow to improve the lot (next week!), we at least have the burgeoning greatness of AOS (second episode recap here).