With FOX's Gotham now one episode into the second half of its first season, both viewers and producers alike have been on a whirlwind of action, emotion and, well, awesomeness, if that qualifies as a defining attribute. But Gotham is young; its viewership is not yet reaching beyond the fan well-versed in his Batman literature and the somewhat-interested viewer new to the cornucopia of characters in the mythos, and the show still needs to take a look at itself to reach its full potential. A pre-batman Gotham has never been explored on as wide a scale before, and while such an endeavour shows promise, it's easy to lose focus when trying to flesh it out fully. So, looking back at the first half of Season 1 alone, what are the 3 most important things Gotham can learn?
A Pre-Batman Gotham still leaves plenty to work with
Some were wary of the release of a Batman show which would not actually include the caped crusader. Probably right to do so, these people argued that notoriously fickle TV audiences can sometimes reject material based on its familiarity and whether or not it's in their comfort zone. A show including Batman in some shape or form would have been a much smaller risk for showrunners FOX to take, but it would appear that their gamble has paid off. With fans by and large taking to the show's concept of a younger Gotham without the Dark Knight, the pilot drew a pleasantly-surprising reported 22 million viewers. It thankfully appears that the showrunners seem to have hit on something with great potential, with ratings regularly topping 8.0 on IMDb, a commendable feat. The series also looks set to get even better despite some early hiccups, clearly demonstrating that FOX have hit on something with Gotham and have plenty to work with. However, the next step is ensuring Gotham reaches its full potential, and there is a lot to think about with regards to this point.
A slow burn is surprisingly effective
Throughout Season 1 viewers were shown plenty of Edward Nygma, a sociopath with a genius-level intellect and incredible powers of deduction. Fans were excited to get a glimpse of the future Riddler; a central character in the Batman mythos often pitted against the Dark Knight in a battle of wits. However, we also received notice from the showrunners that we wouldn't see Nygma as the Riddler immediately; his character will be more slowly explored than is conventional before he finally transforms into the supervillain we all know and love. This process of a slow burn seems to be working; with each episode we feel a slight increase in Nygma's sociopathy, an increase in his aversion to working with those who neglect his true intellect, and an increase in the amount of psychological strain being placed on him. With the Riddler bound to eventually emerge from this, the tension created by the slow burn technique is palpable; we as the audience know that the longer you put strain on something, the harder it snaps. Nygma is bound to eventually snap, and when he does, we know he will do so violently and dramatically, in a fashion befitting a character who simply can't help his intellect getting in the way of his reason. Cory Michael Smith's performance has been excellent so far, and watching him eventually snap into shape as the Riddler will definitely be something to watch out for. Similarly, the approach Heller and Co. are taking with the Joker - slowly teasing his identity before finally revealing who he is - also utilises the slow burn technique to good effect. When we finally see the Clown Prince of Crime, we know it will be dramatic, shocking and eye-opening. If this technique can continue to be used in the appropriate way, the final character reveals will be all the more enrapturing and charged with tension, something the folk over at Gotham would be loathe to miss out on.
Altering origins can work, sparingly
FOX were taking enough of a risk airing Gotham without its most famous resident, and the only realistic way they could continue to draw in the fans would be through displaying Batman's rogues gallery interacting with a younger Gotham. However, several of the characters are conventionally seen to have been born with Batman; coming into existence to complement his nature of delivering dark justice. Anarky attests to this in Knightfall Vol. 1, saying that Gotham must be rid of Batman, because "the very reason these fiends exist is because of him". To incorporate the fact that Batman is just entering his teenage years on the show, some origins had to be changed. Harvey Dent is traditionally considered to be within at least 10 years of Bruce in age, but showrunners cast Nicholas D'Agosto as much older than Bruce in order to allow him to interact with Gordon in finding the Waynes' killer. On a note not related to comic origins, Gordon's military background was more heavily emphasised, perhaps to create a contrast between the killer he had to be to survive in the army and the comparably-peaceful man engaging much more with morals that he has become. Another interesting example is Nygma - starting out in crime scene analysis in the GCPD itself before donning the famous green suit.
The point to be made is that characters' origins will inevitably have to be changed for the show - it's just imperative that Heller and Co. don't go too far with it. Beyond a point, it's possible that origins become so warped from the original that characters become unrecognisable, and could be anybody. It's important that Gotham learns to sparingly deal out origin changes, and watch where there might be dissent from the viewers. If they can do that, they'll have a cracker of a show on their hands, which both realistically portrays a Gotham before Batman and keeps it recognisable.
Overall, Gotham had a dynamic entry onto our screens late last year and only looks set to improve. The above 3 points are imperative for Gotham's continued success, and If showrunners and writers alike can begin to incorporate them, we look set for the show we need, not the one we deserve.