Gotham - even without Batman - goes from strength to strength
Season 2 Review
Gotham has done well to defy expectations, building on a slow, almost whimsical, start and developing into a quirky but compelling – and surprisingly Burton-esque – expansion of the Bat-universe.Season 2 takes the events of the first season and aims for a more epic scale, delivering a succession of villains – both old and new – across its expansive 22 episodes, as overwhelmed detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock attempt to keep the city from collapsing under the weight of crime and corruption, now assisted by the welcome presence of Michael Chiklis (representing full circle for the career of The Shield's veteran actor). Whilst Batman himself – or rather, a young Bruce Wayne – is almost a side player to this whole affair, his involvement seldom feels contrived and more often than not carries with it the benefit of the presence of both Sean Pertwee’s tough-around-the-edges Alfred and Camren Bicondova’s young Catwoman. It’s Ben McKenzie’s Gordon and, arguably Donal Logue’s Bullock that headline the show though, with the latter in particular developing the character in a more interesting and far more rounded way than ever before in the Batman universe.This season’s all about the villains, however, with Dr. Hugo Strange’s diabolical experiments in Arkham Asylum spilling over into a grander scheme which absorbs the likes of an early Mr. Freeze and a young Firefly, whilst Robin Lord Taylor’s pivotal Penguin orbits the mayhem on his own convoluted arc. There’s nods to The Joker, and plenty more work for the soon-to-be-Riddler, whilst Gordon’s love life is further complicated by the haunting memory of his homicidal ex, despite his otherwise potentially blossoming relationship with Morena Baccarin’s Dr. Leslie Thompkins. It’s a hard show to put down, which is a great testament to how compelling it is, and it is arguably far stronger – and more assured – in its sophomore year than during its debut. There’s very little filler as the overreaching story arcs take hold, and the plot thickens. Whilst it may not have the super powers of some of its brethren, the ensemble excitement of Gotham leaves it one of DC’s most addictive TV shows.
Picture QualityThe second season of Gotham hits UK shores courtesy of Warners, on a Region Free release which promotes the episodes across a 4-disc Blu-ray set, with each episode presented in 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition, framed in their original TV aired ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen.
As dark and murky as the city is, Gotham looks spectacular
Bathed in shadows, this Gothic noir show does well to rise above the gloom and remain impressive in terms of both texture and clarity, with shadow detail outstanding, and black levels strikingly well resolved. There is some crush present but almost certainly used as a stylistic choice, leaving the series cinematic in experience, and very Burton-esque in tone and look. The colour scheme is often monochromatically-tilted, but that does not prevent it from looking rich and vibrant, peppered with crimson blood tones and sparks of vibrant primaries. It is a very good looking TV show indeed, and one of the more demo-worthy from the DC mantle.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does a great job
Dialogue is firmly prioritised across the front and centre channels, taking precedence over the score and effects, with the former working pervasively through the piece to maintain impact and momentum, giving Gotham a distinct aural signature. The effects are noisy and impressive, with not just an arsenal of ballistic weapons on hand, but also a bevvy of unusual fire-and-ice based weapons giving the show that more 'super-powered' feel. Throw some heavier chain guns into the mix, as well as a few explosions, and you certainly have a sonically eventful show, which will bust down the door of your living room and leave you with concussion. Impressive.
ExtrasAlthough not packed with extras, or even as impressive as the first season, there are a few nice offerings
Alfred: Batman's Greatest Ally looks behind this particular manifestation of their relationship; Gotham by Noir Light notes the style of the piece; Cold-Hearted: The Tale of Victor Fries details this important character addition; and the extras are rounded off with some Character Profiles and a look at Gotham's 2015 Comic-Con Panel.
VerdictThe impressive sophomore season is all about the villains, maintaining momentum right across its 22-episode arc
Warner's Region Free UK Blu-ray release promotes excellent video and superb audio, as well as a smattering of extra features, and marks a superb release. Improving over the first season, Gotham - and Batman - fans should definitely check it out.
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