REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 2

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Wayne Knight and Kaley Cuoco in New Gotham (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Rachel Dratch (Click)
Tom Hollander (Gosford Park)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
James Adomian (Storks)
Brad Morris (Cougar Town)
George Lopez (The Smurfs 2)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Michael Ironside (Highlamnder II)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Justina Machado (Scoob!)
Scott Porter (Speed Race)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Riddle U (2020)While the first season only wrapped up a short while ago, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn is back for more, and it couldn’t be a better time for it to return. The animated series has stolen fans’ hearts with its all-star cast, hilarious approach to the DC canon, and adult-oriented approach to humor and violence. Season Two  absolutely keeps up its momentum in the episodes, while also evolving things forward in a necessary way. Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues (2020)The premiere picks up a few weeks after The Joker’s (Alan Tudyk) apocalyptic attack on Gotham City, as Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) navigates the aftermath as only she can. Without getting into spoilers (which, if I’m being honest, would sound ludicrous out of context anyway), the episode gradually expands the rogues that are causing trouble in Gotham — a movement that gives Harley a new vendetta without feeling forced.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in There's No Place to Go But Down (2020)Part of what’s made modern-day Harley Quinn so effective — from the comics to the recent blockbuster Birds of Prey movie — has been her approach to and subversion of feminist issues. Season One of Harley put that at the forefront, as she tried to prove her worth and agency among the male villains of her life. While there’s only one episode to go off of, Season Two seems to tackle that misogyny from a slightly different angle, one that will hopefully be incredibly satisfying to watch unfold.Kaley Cuoco in Inner (Para) Demons (2020)Of course, one of the standouts of the series is the rapport between Harley and her “crew,” something that remains the beating heart of the Season Two premiere. Cuoco is somehow even more energetic as Harley, and there’s a sense that she’s legitimately comfortable bringing the character to life. Each of the supporting cast members — from Lake Bell’s Poison Ivy to Jason Alexander’s Sy Borgman — are as great as ever and get their own moments of hilarity within the episode.Kaley Cuoco in Bachelorette (2020)The other villains of the series are as pitch-perfect as ever, between James Adomian’s scene-stealing Bane and Jim Rash’s delightfully-obnoxious take on The Riddler. Spider-Man 2 alum Alfred Molina joins the roster as Mr. Freeze, but manages to weave himself into the ensemble as if he’s always been there. Plus, the Season Two premiere rectifies one of the first season’s few flaws, which was that there wasn’t nearly enough of Andy Daly, who voices Two-Face and a handful of other characters in the episode.The Runaway Bridesmaid (2020)Harley Quinn’s sophomore is a  genuine hit — it somehow manages to outdo its stellar first batch of episodes. The cast and crew are clearly having fun bringing this new adventure of Harley’s to life.

REVIEW: LEGO DC BATMAN: FAMILY MATTERS

Starring

Troy Baker (Marvel Anime)
Alyson Stoner (Step Up 3D)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Hush)
Steve Blum (Wolverine & The X-Men)
Zach Callison (Justice League: War)
Gary Anthony Williams (TMNT: OFTS)
Cam Clarke (He-Man and The Masters of The Universe)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Ralph Garman (Ted)
Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-man)
Tom Kenny (Catdog)
Nolan North (Ultimate Avengers)
André Sogliuzzo (Family Guy)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes to Rome)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Christian Lanz (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)After being bored with a board meeting after stopping Solomon Grundy from stealing a magic staff, Bruce Wayne puts a new machine, Brother Eye, in charge, as he proceeds to sell Wayne Tech. However, this leads to Two-Face buying the company, and plotting to use Brother Eye to take other Gotham and destroy both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Also, Red Hood has arrived to challenge the Bat Family.LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)While some people may not like this, this is actually a good film for kids who are not yet ready for films like the ones in the DCEU or the Dark Knight Trilogy. As a result of this being a Lego DC movie, they did change Red Hood’s origin story to be more kid-friendly, however, seeing as the Lego DC films are part of their own continuity, it should not be a problem. Also, the movie has some good references to classic Batman shows and cartoons (one scene has the bat poles from the 1966 Batman series, complete with automatic suit up, and another scene has a Grey Ghost playing as Batman and Two-Face duel with swords, a neat reference to the episode from Batman: The Animated Series).LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)However, there can be some annoying things (Nightwing and Batgirl keep bringing up a missed text that got them on non-speaking terms, which they never shut up about), but this is a good DTV movie and one that is perfect for younger kids or anyone into Lego or superheroes.LEGO DC: Batman - Family Matters (2019)

REVIEW: LEGO BATMAN: THE MOVIE – DC SUPER HEROES UNITE

 

CAST (VOICES)

Troy Baker (Dragon Ball Z)
Travis Willingham (Marvel Anime)
Christopher Corey Smith (The Twelve Kingdoms)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Brian Bloom (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987)
Townsend Coleman (Fraggle Rock)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Charlie Schlatter (Batman Unlimited)

lego-batman-movie-dc-super-heroes-unite-1

The movie begins with Batman and Superman taking on Lex Luthor and flashes back to the “Man of the Year” award ceremony which quickly gets out of control when the Joker leads a group of villains (including the Penquin, Harley Quinn, Riddler, Two-Face and Catwoman) to crash the party. And what better way to stop a villain team up then by getting together a few “super” friends like Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Cyborg and The Flash. There are plenty of other characters that show up along the way as well.

The film itself is fun for all ages, with enough Lego humor for the kids and plenty of jokes that will probably be over their heads including references to the Batman films going all the way back to the 1960s. Kudos to the design team for their parody of the original 1989 Batman film opening, as well as the use of that iconic Danny Elfman music and the John Williams Superman score. The voice work is solid and though I prefer the voice cast of Arkham Asylum, this group of actors does a wonderful job portraying these characters in a more kid friendly way.

The bonus features are great as well and include a short feature called “Building Batman” behinds the scenes in the Lego animation studio with a few kids getting to work with the resident animator, 2 episodes of The Brave and the Bold and one from Teen Titans, a Lego Batman stop-motion short, and 5 winning shorts from the Lego DC Universe Super Heroes Video Contest. There are various languages options but unfortunately no commentary which I would have loved to hear from the director or lead animator about the production. The pack-in of Clark Kent with the “S” exposed is a nice add on for Lego collectors as well.

Ultimately this is a great release. It’s a fun film for all ages and  worth a look.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 5

Donal Logue, Morena Baccarin, Cameron Monaghan, Erin Richards, David Mazouz, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, and Michelle Veintimilla in Gotham (2014)

 

Starring

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Shark Night)
David Mazouz (Incarnate)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (John Wick 3)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Utopia)
Jessica Lucas (Clvoerfield)
Chris Chalk (Homeland)

Gotham (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jaime Murray (Castlevania)
Francesca Root-Dodson (Free Spirit)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
Shane West (Nikita)
Peyton List (The Tomorrow People)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Richard Kind (Young Sheldon)
Lili Simmons (The Purge TV)

Donal Logue, Ben McKenzie, and Erin Richards in Gotham (2014)Certain aspects of the Batman story seem reasonably immutable and set in stone, no matter how many iterations there are over the years. However, the gap which exists between boy and (Bat)man seems pretty much up for grabs, as there hasn’t really been a definitive account of what young Bruce Wayne did in the wilderness. All we know for certain is that he watched his parents get murdered, fell into a cave filled with bats, and the legend was born.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)A recent attempt to chronicle this part of Bruce’s life came with DC’s ‘The New 52’, and part of the ‘Zero Year’ storyline was used in the arc for Season 5 of Gotham. In fact, Gotham has probably been the most detailed attempt to cover the journey that takes Bruce from victim to vigilante, over half a decade, while also showing how his Rogues’ Gallery came into being. It seems to have started a trend for prequel origin tales, with SyFy’s Krypton which just finished its second term, and Pennyworth from Epix which goes even further back and show us a younger (and Bruce-less) Alfred.John Martineau, Ben McKenzie, and Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)With such fertile ground, Gotham could easily have run for longer, but the plug was pulled and a drastically curtailed last outing was planned to wrap up the story. Despite having run for half the length of Smallville, the end goal was always the same – give the audience the payoff after loyally following the show, by building up to the big reveal, where the hero dons his cape (and, in this case, cowl), signifying the end of one chapter, and the start of a new one, where we get into more familiar territory. And then exeunt, Gotham.BD Wong and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)It was always going to be interesting to see how the makers of Gotham would address the elephant (or, maybe, bat) in the room, as there seems to have been an aversion on the part of DC to allow there to be any more than one Batman – and, even then, only to allow him on the big screen. Animated series aside, the only time we’ve seen Batman on TV is in the 1960s Adam West series; even Titans in its first season only showed him briefly (and then only played by a stuntman), but Season 2 has cast Iain Glen as an older Bruce Wayne, so things may have turned a corner as far as television depictions are concerned.Cameron Monaghan in Gotham (2014)Having only a dozen episodes in which to try and wrap up the four previous years of storylines is no mean feat, and by doing so, Season 5 of Gotham has managed to simultaneously feel both too short and too long; not enough time to breathe, and yet somehow drawn out at the same time. It’s actually quite an achievement when you think about it. The storytelling’s suffered as a result, as you have to cram so much in, but some continuing strands haven’t been handled especially well, and some of the plotting has felt circuitous or circular at times.That’s not to say this last hurrah has been a failure, or there hasn’t been anything to shout about, as it’s still hugely enjoyable. One thing that’s become painfully clear, however, is that things seem to sag when Jeremiah Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) isn’t on screen – he’s come close to being one of the definitive versions of the Joker, and been a welcome breath of fresh air, after the appalling Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. However, he’s so good that when he isn’t around, you’re waiting for him to turn up again, so he’s actually made the show a victim of his own success.Peyton List in Gotham (2014)The next best villain on the show, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), has been a joy to watch, with his manic, calculating glee, and his combative and – sometimes – homoerotic relationship with Penguin, a.k.a. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), has lifted and carried the series through some weaker patches. However, he’s mostly wasted here, spending much of his time investigating the blackouts he’s been having, and then discovering that he’s been turned into a mind-controlled puppet. Riddle me this: why on Earth did they choose to squander Nygma, and wait until the finale to let him find form once again?Shane West in Gotham (2014)Considering the tale’s been told through the eyes of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), he’s hardly been the most compelling or sympathetic of characters, making some truly questionable moral decisions, and a lot of effort is put into positioning him to become the Commissioner Gordon who we all know; one of these dodgy choices comes with him having a torrid one-night stand with his ex – and gangland crime boss – Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), just so she can get pregnant and give us the future Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. I really won’t miss McKenzie’s irritating growling voice, nor his jutting jaw, all of which he seems to think passes for actual acting.Donal Logue and Ben McKenzie in Gotham (2014)Through it all, the natural core of Gotham has understandably been the pairing of Alfred Pennyworth (the inimitable Sean Pertwee) and young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). It’s actually turned out to be an incredibly intelligent piece of casting by picking Mazouz, as you’d have to have a lot of confidence that he could actually play Bruce on his trajectory from boy to young man, and then credibly setting up his transformation into Batman; Mazouz has managed to grow beyond the rather wet and feeble Bruce who we first met, turning into the proto-Dark Knight who started to emerge in Season 4.David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)Gotham has certainly done a creditable job in working in so much of the whole Batman mythos, setting up the genesis of so many adversaries, including – in this latest season – Bane (Shane West), who thankfully erred more toward Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises, rather than the embarrassing cartoon henchman we saw in Batman & Robin. However, the money shot we’ve all been waiting for comes at the end of the final episode, bringing us our newest Batman. The fact it leaves us wanting more means it really is mission accomplished, and is pretty much the best ending they could have aimed for.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 4

Ben McKenzie and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)

 

Starring

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Shark Night)
David Mazouz (Incarnate)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (John Wick 3)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Utopia)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (Homeland)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Crystal Reed (Swamp Thing)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)

Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Maggie Geha (The Rewrite)
Peyton List (Flashforward)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Michael Cerveris (Ant-Man and the Wasp)
Cameron Monaghan (Reign of The Supermen)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michelle Veintimilla (The Gifted)
Michael Maize (Power Rangers In Space)
John Doman (The Boys)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Camila Perez (Who We Are Now)
Peter McRobbie (Daredevil)
Francesca Root-Dodson (Free Spirit)

Gotham started out as a raw, , and unfocused show. We have the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents and the germ of his literal growing pains on display. Then there’s Jim Gordon, the core focus of Gotham, presented under the guise of a procedural cop drama, solving fanservice cases with his no-nonsense partner. And the subplot involving turf wars? It was only digestible thanks to the profound talent of Robin Lord Taylor as The Penguin (who is still easily one of the best parts of the show).Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz in Gotham (2014)Gotham was, quite frankly, all over the place until somewhere into season two, when the show embraced its characters, started to connect them, and let the actors run wild with the personas they had crafted over the course of that previous year. Even throwaway characters like Barbara Kean scrapped and fought for a rightful place on the show. Each year it doubles down on its insanity, and it’s been paying off in a big way.Alexander Siddig and Erin Richards at an event for Gotham (2014)The huge arcs for this season of Gotham involve Professor Pyg’s live-action debut, more Ra’s al Ghul/League of Assassins drama, Penguin’s ongoing war with the Falcone family, and more Joker. You might notice a recurring theme on “more,” and that partially plays into the concept of doubling down. The latter is really the focus though, and why not in the penultimate season? Batman adaptations usually fall back on The Joker, but this time, because of the way Gotham strays from the source material, it works to the show’s benefit.Sean Pertwee and Ben McKenzie in Gotham (2014)While the first few seasons were content with giving us plotlines that went nowhere or were thrown for a loop after actors exited the project, now we’re getting to the point where the writers finish what they started. The Joker’s true identity has been something that’s been teased before the program even debuted, and now the arc has been fully completed into what is probably the most engrossing storyline, capped by an inspired double-duty performance by Cameron Monaghan.Andrew Sellon, Robin Lord Taylor, and Anthony Carrigan in Gotham (2014)The Gotham showrunners actually did it — they adapted The Killing Joke. Even just bringing in elements of the always-controversial classic, even more so due to the latest DC animated adaptation’s alterations, has the potential to misfire; but they mostly trod lightly here. In turn, this Joker feels like his own man, free from the shackles of tradition while still paying homage to various bits of Batman history, most notably the visage of Jack Nicholson.Morena Baccarin and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)Ben McKenzie in Gotham (Season 4) – image for this review provided by FOX.
It’s interesting how, like the Nolan films, the crew takes bits and pieces of the Batman mythos while still forging their own story. It doesn’t always work out, and at this point, Gotham, in turn, is even taking things from Nolan, but it’s just deviant enough to keep you guessing rather than say “oh, this is exactly like the comics, but worse” — a sentiment that used to apply to Gotham in spades.Ben McKenzie, Billy Peck, Dennis Rees, and Kelcy Griffin in Gotham (2014)This season of Gotham has had a monumental impact on the series with an actual endgame, and the showrunners are getting one more year to end the story on their own terms. Despite the ups and downs several arcs have given us, it seems as if Gotham is going to be complete, and that the creators at least had some idea of where they wanted to go with it for once.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 3

 

MAIN CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (New Girl)
Morena Baccarin (Homeland)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Cold Comes The Night)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Wonderstruck)
Jessica Lucas (Cloverfield)
Chris Chalk (12 Years A Slave)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maggie Geha (Ted 2)
Benedict Samuel (The Walk)
Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Leslie Hendrix (Arthur)
James Carpinello (Gangster Squad)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
John Doman (Blue Valentine)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Magic Mike XXL)
B.D. Wong (Jurassic World)
Chelsea Spack (Blue Bloods)
Raymond J. Barry (Training Day)
Richard Kind (Stargate)
Naian Gonzalez Norvind (The Devil You Know)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Cameron Monaghan (Amityville: The Awakening)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Nathan Darrow (Preacher)
Camila Perez (Star)
Tonya Pinkins (The Book of Henry)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Clare Foley (Sinister)
David Dastmalchain (Ant-Man)

Maggie Geha in Gotham (2014)Gotham is the crime drama series based on DC Comics’ Batman universe. Having premiered on Fox in the autumn of 2014, the show initially focused on young versions of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Over time, though, the series introduced younger iterations of well-known villains in the Batman franchise, as well as lesser-known characters to provide a wider representation of the Dark Knight’s universe. Additionally, with Season Two, the episodes were grouped into “Rise of the Villains” (Episodes 1-11) and “Wraith of the Villains” (Episode 12-22), and that concept was continued in Season Three, with Episodes 1-14 grouped into “Mad Love” and Episodes 15-22, under the subtitle of “Heroes Rise.”Benedict Samuel in Gotham (2014)Concepts deriving from the overarching themes were weaved throughout the various storylines. Betrayal is often associated with love, and this theme was well represented throughout the season. Between lovers, siblings, work colleagues, and enemies, betrayal was a symptom of the deterioration of Gotham. Gordon tried to take the high road with his ex-fiancé Lee (Morena Baccarin) who moved on to a relationship with Dr. Mario Falcone (James Carpinello) and fell into an uneasy sexual relationship with Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) that included a number of lies and betrayals due to their goals arising from their respective jobs – bounty hunter and reporter. But, the downfall between Gordon and Vale came when he is forced by Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel) to choose between Vale or Lee in “Follow the White Rabbit” (Episode 6). Although he chooses Vale, all parties easily infer that Gordon is still in love with Lee. Later in the season, Bruce commits a deadly betrayal against Alfred (Sean Pertwee) in “Destiny Calling” (Episode 21) after being kidnapped by the Court of Owls to spend time with The Shaman (Raymond J. Barry) and meeting Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig). Surprisingly, one ray of light occurred between Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Desperate to know why she didn’t kill him, Penguin was surprised and humbled that Fish saw in him her greatest creation (“Burn the Witch” Episode 2).Robin Lord Taylor and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)

As often that a character was turning on another individual, sometimes the betrayal came from within. Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) seemed to be one of the most conflicted characters through the season, trying to answer the question, “Who am I?” His identity, publicly as Penguin’s Chief of Staff, and privately as Penguin’s mastermind, resulted in a vacuum of questions after Nygma shot Penguin, believing he had killed his best friend who overshadowed and defined him. As a result, Nygma tested a number of the city’s intelligent people for assistance in determining his own identity separate from Penguin. The Tetch virus enhanced and brought out certain traits of characters and finding themselves at odds with themselves. Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis) received a drop of blood from Alice Tetch (Naian Gonzalez Norvind) which heightened his commitment to the concept of justice, becoming judge, jury, and executioner as well as embodying the law (“New Day Rising” Episode 4). Marios jealousy was amplified, and Lee became a bad girl looking for the bad boy in Gordon, who was forced to self-infect the virus on himself in “Pretty Hate Machine” (Episode 20). As one of the heroes, Gordon was the only one who could control his magnified emotional state.

Amongst chaos, the heroes rise; however, the idea of heroes is a double-edged sword, so the viewer’s traditional definition of hero will be challenged in Season Three. Executive Producer John Stephens said, “Everyone goes through a major character metamorphosis throughout the course of the yea,r” in an interview with Comicbook.com. What is the most dramatic event that a character could go through? Well, it seemed that death (or near-death) and rebirth was a common event for most of the characters. For instance, Ivy Pepper (Maggie Geha) was touched by one of Dr. Strange’s (B. E. Wong) monsters and not only did she age about 10 or so years, but it was the belief of Selina (Camren Bicondova) that Ivy had died. Fish Mooney, Victor Fries (Nathan Darrow), who became Mr. Freeze, and Bridgit Pike (Camila Perez), who became Firefly, actually died and were reborn. It should be noted that while some characters died, they did not embody their familiar mantle: Ivy isn’t known as Poison Ivy, Selena hasn’t become Catwoman, and Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) may have the iconic creepy wide smile, but nary a whisper of “Joker” has been heard – yet.David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova in Gotham (2014)The parallels amongst pairs of characters did deliver intriguing comparisons. For example, viewers witness the very public destruction of Penguin, each layer of his personae being taken away from him. The betrayal is deliberate, a conscious effort on the part of Nygma, Barbara Keen (Erin Richards), Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), and Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell). Eventually, even Penguin’s life is taken from him; however, there is also a private betrayal occurring in Lee. She has internalized her loss and although she argues for justice and grabs for the preverbal straws, she finally realizes that she is the root cause of her own betrayal. She hits rock bottom and as a result, injects herself with the Tetch virus, embracing her ruin.Robin Lord Taylor in Gotham (2014)Due to the large ensemble cast of regular cast members, plus the recurring and special guests through the 22 episodes, one of the inherent issues is affording enough screen time to each character so that their origin story is fully explored, resulting in a well-developed character. While Gordon and Wayne/514A (David Mazouz, in a dual role) are central characters and will typically appear in each episode, some of the other regular characters, such as Selina Kyle, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), or Butch, seem to disappear from the storyline. For example, in the closing minutes of “How the Riddler Got His Name” (Episode 15), Edward Nygma/The Riddler reveals to Lucius that he is struggling with defining his identity separate and outside of the shadow of Penguin. After announcing to Lucius that he is the Riddler, Nygma knocks Lucius out in his car. Viewers next see Lucius in “Light the Wick” (Episode 18). Fish Mooney is another character that is missing for most of the season after appearing in the season’s opening episode, “Better to Reign in Hell…” Their disappearances do cause some gaps, such as where was Lucius for two episodes, 16 and 17 – one would assume that someone from the GCPD would notice Lucius sleeping off Nygma’s attack in the front seat of his car, parked across the street from the precinct.Drew Powell, Jessica Lucas, and Cory Michael Smith in Gotham (2014)The third season of Gotham provides intriguing complexities to the overarching denigration of the city into chaos and the telling of individual character origin stories. While the origin stories are fascinating, the fact that there is foreknowledge that most of the characters cannot die because they will one day face Bruce Wayne as Batman does cause a wrinkle with the audience’s engagement with the storylines. To compensate, spending more time on character development would alleviate some of the indifference inherent to the nature of prequel narratives. That said, Gotham is a binge-worthy show. The city is visually stunning, and the Steampunk feel captivating. Audiences unfamiliar with the origin stories will likely enjoy the show just as much or more so than those that come to the show with familiarity from reading the comics.

 

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agosto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Chelsea Spack (Dead To Me)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Doman (The Company Men)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 1

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Touch)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Doman (The Wire)
Victoria Cartagena (Salt)
Andrew Stewart -Jones (Beauty and The Beast)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Grayson McCouch (Armageddon)
Brette Taylor (Rescue Me)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Jeremy Bobb (The Kitchen)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
David Zayas (Dexter)
Frank Whaley (Luke Cage)
Jeremy Davidson (Roswell)
Margaret Colin (Independence Day)
Susan Misner (The Forgotten)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Leslie Odom Jr. (Red Tails)
Christopher James Baker (Sanctum)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Makenzie Leigh (The Slap)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Dash Mihok (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Julian Sands (Smallville)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Chelsea Spack (Dead To Me)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: DS9)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The Series)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
John Clarence Stewart (Luke Cage)

MV5BNTQ4MDU3NDQ5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjc0OTM3MjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1445,1000_AL_Gotham City has an old, relatively vague history independent of when Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot down in an alleyway, usually the first and primary thing that comes to mind about the motivation that drives Batman: the crime that got so bad that it took his good-natured parents away from him. The surroundings responsible for the billionaires’ murder weren’t created overnight, though, and intensified in response to their death, a time period that often goes unaddressed unless a detail about Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the brooding hero needs mentioning. As a response to the character’s unrelenting popularity the folks at DC aim to use that largely unexplored space to provide an origin story for the city’s violence and corruption, an attempt to recapture the magic of Smallville in a darker environment. The result is Gotham, a blend of crime-case procedure and mobster politics that also fills in the gaps between the orphaning of Bruce Wayne to where Batman begins.Taking pages out of the playbook of the comic-book series “Gotham Central”, the show largely focuses on the interworking parts of the Gotham City Police Department, notably the arrival of rookie detective Jim Gordon in the midst of rampant corruption. The OC star Ben McKenzie brings initiative and fire to the character, a war veteran and straight-laced servant of the law who’s thrown together with a dirty partner in Harvey Bullock, whose sympathetic flaws are marvelously embodied by Donal Logue. Their first case together? The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, later revealed to be connected to the city’s organized crime activity. In their investigation, Gordon quickly gets introduced to key players pulling the strings in Gotham, notably a swanky nightclub operator in Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her aging, rational boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Then, there’s Oswald Cobblepott (Robin Lord Taylor), an attendant to Fish whose wavering allegiances also come to the surface in response to Gordon and Bullock’s investigation, working him into a position of persistent danger and upward mobility if he plays his cards right.Against the backdrop of a Gotham City that combines Tim Burton’s gothic vision with Christopher Nolan’s stark approach into a relatively timeless metro area, Gotham comes in hard and fast with its nods to the DC universe, eliminating any early concerns about how much of the mythology it’ll incorporate. In fact, the show actually suffers from an oversaturation of these references, especially in how many of the classic villains have benign links to the GCPD in their pasts and, quite simply, how many have already shown up and taken shape into their well-known personalities. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, nor with tweaking what’s known about the universe into its own continuity, but it does detract from the production succeeding as a credible prequel to the age of Batman — touted early on as a selling point for the show.It’s fascinating to see the riddlesome Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) as an awkward, morbid Dexter-like puzzle-solver working in the precinct, and to see a young Catwoman giving prowler pointers to a young Batman not long after she witnessed the infamous Wayne murder.The areas where Gotham works are within the politics of the GCPD and the evolving criminal element, and, by association, the origin stories of Jim Gordon’s fight against the department and The Penguin’s ascent up the crime ladder. Elevated by Gordon’s furious diligence against the powers-that-be who keep him from properly doing his job. Gotham is in a comfort zone while exploring maneuverings of Robin Lord Taylor’s brilliantly grimy performance as Oswald Cobblepott. Combining the knowledge that he’ll eventually become a massive player in Gotham with the unpredictable, volatile nature of his younger self exemplifies what a prequel can accomplish.1066711-0-q80Gotham really exposes the crux of its issues in the origin story of Bruce Wayne, built around the young orphaned billionaire developing the gumption and skill to investigate his parents’ murder, planting the seeds for his growth into the Caped Crusader. As Gotham grows in it’s first season it becomes fascinating show dealing with the city before Batman came along and as it heads into it’s second season who can truly see the show has found it’s footing and will hopefully be around for sometime to come.

REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 1

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Charles Adler (Rugrats)
James Adomian (Storks)
Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife and Kids)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Sean Giambrone (The Secret Life of Pets 2)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad Show)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Howie Mandel (Gremlins)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet)
Frankie Muniz (Agent Cody Banks)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Rhea Perlman (Sing)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Nicole Sullivan (The King of Queens)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks II)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Diedrich Bader and Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)DC Universe’s funny, gory supervillain comedy mixes rollicking action with psychological growth. In DC Universe’s Harley Quinn, a gloriously foul-mouthed and blood-spattered adult cartoon, our psychologist-turned-supervillain heroine finds herself in a brutal skirmish with her own parents, who are trying to kill her. (First, they accidentally blew grandma’s head off, then they put a peekaboo hole through grandpa.) Harley beats her emotionally abusive father to a pulp in a filial dynamic I haven’t seen since Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight. “All I wanted was what every Jewish mother wants — for you to marry a doctor!” her mother wails, brandishing a bloody knife. “I AM A DOCTOR!” Harley (Kaley Cuoco) erupts in a zing so nuclear it nearly knocked me as dead as grandma.Kaley Cuoco, Tony Hale, and Ron Funches in The Final Joke (2020)Harley Quinn is the story of what happens when a woman’s ego happens to be as inflated as any mediocre man’s. It’s one of the best surprises of the year. The show stems from Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker and Dean Lorey, who have created another clever postmodern take on superhero lore, à la The Incredibles, The Boys, Watchmen and Powerless. (All three were executive producers on the latter.)Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)In 13 zippy, violent and irreverent half-hour episodes, we’re introduced to lovesick Harley, a minor sidekick in unbecoming pantomime garb, who soon breaks free from her toxic romance with narcissist Joker (Alan Tudyk) to branch out on her own (complete with a sexy makeover to embody Margot Robbie’s bat-wielding-in-short-shorts version of the character). Harley, a former practicing therapist, bursts with lava-hot anger, and her addiction to her own temper ends up being her Achilles heel in most episodes. She’s a great protagonist because she makes bad decisions and maintains unhealthy goals. Honestly, it’s a refreshing set of vices for a cartoon female lead.Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Short of being “How Harley Got Her Groove Back,” the series takes its time to deprogram its heroine from the abuse cycle, following her as she slowly builds her nascent supervillain business/brand. First, her sardonic and husky-voiced best friend Poison Ivy (Lake Bell, playing the character as a grown-up Daria) stages an anti-Joker intervention for Harley that includes hurling her friend in a vat of neon margarita mix disguised as acid (“It’s still kinda stingy,” Harley whines).Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in Devil's Snare (2020)Then, once her ex is out of her life, Harley realizes how little respect she has in the supervillain boys club (a.k.a. the Legion of Doom) and seeks to establish a ruthless reputation for herself. She assembles a new crew, including a #MeToo-disgraced Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), shape-shifting thespian Clayface (Alan Tudyk), easygoing fishman King Shark (Ron Funches) and elderly spy-turned-cyborg Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander). Ivy, an avowed environmentalist with her own plant-based agenda, insists she’s not officially in the crew … but let’s just say she’s not-not officially in the crew. They’re raggedy, but they’ll do.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)The best episodes are the ones in which Harley must confront her own boundaries as a supervillain. Early on, she finds herself in a cringey nemesis relationship with seemingly-cherubic tween Robin (Jacob Tremblay, as delightfully profane as in Good Boys), which threatens Harley’s fledgling professional legitimacy. Later, she befriends charming villainess Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes), only to realize she’s hardcore bloodthirsty and not just your garden-variety heisting baddie. I mean, she full-on murders Humpty Dumpty for an omelet. “Oh, you got a line, huh?” she admonishes Harley. “Superheroes have a line. Teen Titans have a line. We don’t give a fuck.”Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Harley Quinn juxtaposes cheeky joke-telling against face-melting body horror. It’s also not afraid to mock the DC brand at large. Here, every classic superhero is a righteous blowhard, every revered supervillain an impotent buffoon (Harley taunts Batman about how he “fucks bats” every chance she gets). We watch as Aquaman cradles a dying pufferfish in his arms and as Bane continuously fails at every little task. Comedian James Adomian’s harpooning voicework superbly obliterates Tom Hardy’s iconic performance as this character.In fact, the cast at large is key to Harley Quinn’s success. Harley screeches so much I actually became worried for Cuoco’s vocal cords, but the shrieking nonetheless remains essential to Harley’s personal development. She’s no longer the nasally, sexxii baby-voiced Noo Yawka dripping at Joker’s heels, but a rage machine about to explode into flames. She’s often tempered by Ivy’s voice-of-reason deadpan, a masterful turn from Bell, who in fact wrote and directed an entire feature film about the art of vocal talent. Other main cast standouts include Alan Tudyk, doing his cartoon pastiche Alan Tudyk thing, and Jason Alexander, who infuses Sy Borgman with craggy Yiddishkeit. My favorite guest stars of the season include Susie Essman and Rhea Perlman.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)Instead of relying on caper-of-the-week hijinks, the producers opt to highlight Harley’s personal growth, organically building action sequences and serialized storylines from that seismic emotional epicenter. Harley may be a supervillain, but she’s also healing from systemic manipulation, finally able to explore her own identity outside of her ex’s. Harley Quinn has its finger on the pulse of female trauma and strength. Kaley Cuoco in Harley Quinn Highway (2020)

REVIEW: BATMAN: HUSH

Starring

Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon A Time)
Jerry O’Connell (Veronica Mars)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Maury Sterling (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Peyton List (Remember Me)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Stuart Allan (Rise of The Guardians)
James Garrett (Titanic)
Geoffrey Arend (Body of Proof)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Bad Blood)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)

Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne is attending an evening party where he meets Selina Kyle and his childhood friend and renowned brain surgeon Thomas Elliot, until he receives an alert from Alfred about a child kidnapping from Bane. After a brief fight, Batman is confronted by Lady Shiva who tells him an unknown intruder has used the Lazarus Pit and asks for his assistance in identifying them. Batman rescues the child, but Catwoman steals the ransom money. As Batman swings through Gotham City in pursuit of her, a mysterious villain shoots his grapple line and he falls to the ground, fracturing his skull. He is nearly killed by a group of nearby criminals until he is saved by Catwoman and Batgirl. Catwoman delivers the ransom money to Poison Ivy, who is controlling her through a hypnotic kiss.Batman: Hush (2019)Alfred summons Thomas Elliot to remove skull fragments from Bruce’s brain. Batman recovers and pays a trip to Blackgate Penitentiary to interrogate Bane on the whereabouts of the money. Bane eventually escapes and Batman strikes a deal with Amanda Waller, who allows Bane’s escape so Batman can track him. Bane leads Batman to Poison Ivy’s now abandoned greenhouse where Catwoman is. Waller captures Bane and returns him to Blackgate Penitentiary.Batman: Hush (2019)Seeking retaliation for Ivy’s manipulation, Catwoman offers information on her whereabouts to Batman in exchange for a kiss and a tenuous romance blooms between them. Batman and Catwoman follow Poison Ivy to Metropolis. Batman finds Lex Luthor, now a probationary member of the Justice League, and asks for information on a delivery list of an ethylene compound to track down Ivy’s location. There they find Ivy has taken control of Superman and she commands the Man of Steel to kill Batman and Catwoman. Batman observes that Superman is subconsciously resisting Ivy’s influence, holding back on his attempts to kill both of them. Using knuckledusters made from Kryptonite, Batman stalls Superman while Catwoman lets Lois Lane fall from the Daily Planet building. Superman breaks free of Ivy’s control to save Lois. Batman, Superman, and Catwoman work together to capture Ivy, who reveals that she was being manipulated by a mysterious foe called Hush.Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne goes on a date with Selina, who is unaware of the former’s identity as Batman, much to the encouragement of his family. The two, along with Thomas Elliot, attend an opera when Harley Quinn arrives and attempts to kill Bruce. In the ensuing struggle, Dr. Elliot is apparently shot dead by Joker. An enraged Batman violently beats Joker who claims that he is innocent, and he is stopped short of killing him by Commissioner James Gordon. Bruce attends Elliot’s funeral and deduces Joker’s innocence as well that Hush must know his secret identity. After foiling a robbery by Riddler, Batman chases after Hush but fails to catch him. Afraid for her safety, Batman asks Selina to leave Gotham so she doesn’t fall victim to Hush, who vowed to murder everyone close to him. He eventually decides to trust Catwoman and reveals his identity to her, and the two become a romantic crime-fighting couple.Batman: Hush (2019)Later, Batman investigates the office of Thomas Elliot and discovers one of his patients was someone called Arthur Wynne who sought an operation for an inoperable brain tumor. Nightwing and Catwoman investigate a graveyard break-in and are attacked by the Scarecrow. Nightwing is overpowered by the fear toxin, but Catwoman defeats Scarecrow and gets Nightwing to safety. However, she is captured by Hush after Nightwing escapes.Batman: Hush (2019)At Arkham Asylum, Batman interrogates Riddler who reveals that he has been Wynne as well as Hush. He had used a Lazarus Pit to cure himself of his brain tumor and during his time in the Lazarus Pit, he figured out Batman’s identity as Bruce Wayne and formed a plan involving several villains to destroy both the personal life and the crime-fighting career of Batman. Batman deduces that Riddler is actually Clayface mimicking his identity while the latter communicated via satellite. After defeating Clayface, Batman finds Riddler’s location and the two engage in a final confrontation. Riddler is nearly killed, but is saved by Batman with his grapnel. However, Catwoman cuts the line and allows Riddler to fall to his death. In the aftermath, Batman and Catwoman decide to go their separate ways after a fierce disagreement over Batman’s ethical code. Both of them acknowledge that while their relationship cannot happen presently, it may someday.Batman: Hush (2019)We see Batman go through a lot of trials in this movie. He takes on his gallery, he explores love, and his code is tested. The movie is great in the visuals, the writing, the music, the voice acting, and so much more. There are changes made to make it fit in the current universe and it works well. A good balance of humor and drama in between all the action. Some will complain about the changes and cuts, but the movie maintains the heart of the story when it comes to Batman and his challenges. A worthwhile watch for fans of Batman.