This earth nerd wants to take you to a gritty, fictional city for a moment. This isn’t review of Gotham. We already done that and decided it sucked out our souls.
No, the next 700 words is about how to watch a television show like Gotham, should you be so inclined.
The wrong way to watch Gotham is to turn off the TV and go on and on about how lifting a person with a weather balloon is not possible. That scene “breaks laws of physics,” you might say.
Really? A fictional setting about superhero origins takes liberties with the laws of physics?!? You don’t say!
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get snarky there.
Actually, I did mean to get snarky there.
I’ll sometimes call that “At home, acting smug and superior.” I should know how that works. My full apology for proceeding to sitting at home, being all smug and superior, daring to type out instructions on how you should watch a television show. Instead, I humbly submit my perspective on what makes a show like Gotham workable.
But That’s Illogical!
Nerds like us have brilliant minds and know much more about tiny intracacies than most. Logical, sequential thinking is EXCELLENT. But, please, remember that television shows don’t really work this way.
We watch television for a story, to be moved by something, to engage with characters, to feeeeeeeeell emotions right here [points to heart]. Let’s jump quickly to an example to get to what I’m talking about.
If we take out the plot gimmick of murdering victims via weather ballon in the Balloonman episode of Gotham then we wouldn’t have had most of the show! I’m only being partially snarky here, because seriously, if you take that away you wouldn’t have some of the major scenes that the gimmick set up, nor many of the ones that follow it.
Sure, you’re being asked to hit the pause button on Mr. Logic, but you’ve replaced that with a willingness to become swept away in a story. To want to follow logic there means you are complaining, in effect, that most of the show shouldn’t exist. We don’t get the scene of Gordon riding the ballon, we don’t get the comedy from the fact that the detectives didn’t know the balloon eventually came down, we don’t get the ridiculousness of an old lady looking up to a man falling on top of her from the sky.
The physics were glossed over there because the writers wanted a mechanism to set up future drama, humor, and character moments. Being that Gotham is a comic book show – and not a documentary – an illogical plot works effectively to carry forward the story and characters.
This works from cartoons to Oscar winning films. If you think logically about Tom and Jerry, everybody knows the cat would’ve caught that mouse, man, but we let that junk go because the conceit of the entire cartoon is watching the mouse hit the cat over the head with a cast iron skillet! Not only is it entertaining, but it connects emotionally as well because deep down we all want to root for the little guy.
So What’s the Problem?
This is why I found it odd that I saw on Twitter that one viewer was giving up on the show “because anyone with a brain knows a weather balloon won’t lift a human”, while another Twitter user said they were stopping Gotham because “Penguin should have purchased the shoes instead of murdering for them.”
I have to say that a comic book television show where we watch an extended scene of the villain going shoe shopping does not awesome television make.
Again, I’m not rooting against logic. Really, I’m not. And I don’t even watch Gotham any more, because dang, that show is dumb.
All I’m saying is set logic aside from time to time and open your mind to a world of wonder and imagination.
Tragedy. Bleakness. Drama. Laughter. Suffering. Joy. Emotion. Tears. Sympathy. These are the reasons we watch TV! These are the things of good storytelling and drama. We watch to see the characters entangled in crazy situations, wondering what they’ll do next. We watch to feel like we are enthralled in the world on the screen.
The writers of Gotham aren’t interested in having the show make sense. In fact, since it’s a comic book show they have even more liberties to take the stories to the highest of ridiculousness! The writers are interested in entertaining us in the most dramatic and thematically interesting way possible.
You know how a weather balloon carried those people to their death in Gotham? A wizard did it. And leave it at that.