Gotham: The Fifth and Final Season

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Morena Baccarin, Chris Chalk, Cameron Monaghan, Shane West.

Also available with
Gotham: The Complete Series
$99.99 DVD, $112.99 Blu-ray

The “Gotham” in this final batch of episodes is a far cry from the series that debuted in 2014.

In its early episodes, the show took on more of the feel of a traditional police procedural, focused on the early career of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), who would eventually become the police commissioner of Gotham City in the Batman comics. His first case would be to investigate the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Gotham would also be plagued by mob violence, while versions of other Batman characters would appear as well as a nod to the comics.

This early approach didn’t catch on with viewers, as the show suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, as it wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to be a cop drama, a Batman origin story or a gritty crime saga. The richness of the Batman mythos was too tempting to leave on the table, so even the more absurd aspects of the comic books began to seep onto the show. Eventually, the series focused on what fans liked about the early episodes, and embraced the often bizarre and macabre nature of the various villains in Batman’s rogues gallery, evolving into a deliciously wacky pastiche of a typical comic book adaptation.

It’s as if the producers fused the dark noir of the Batman films with the campiness of the 1960s series to craft a truly unique spin on the character’s canon. There are certainly more than enough references to earlier Batman TV series and movies.

No comic book storylines were off limits, even if they didn’t necessarily fit the timeline from the comics. For example, in the comics, Bruce Wayne doesn’t learn about the conspiratorial Court of Owls until well after he becomes Batman, but they appeared on the show during the second season, when Bruce is just a kid, nudging him toward his eventual destiny.

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In the fifth season, the series was inspired by the “No Man’s Land” storyline, in which a series of disasters isolates Gotham from the rest of the country, forcing its remaining citizens into a sort of post-apocalyptic gang society (elements of the storyline also inspired The Dark Knight Rises). As the various characters continue to push toward their eventual destinies in the comic books, with some eccentric detours, of course, the show also introduces its version of Bane (Shane West), who arrives pre-mask as an old Army buddy of Gordon who arrives to help restore order to the city.

In the end, the series is an interesting take on the Batman mythology, which some fans may enjoy for its embrace of the spirit of the characters, while others might find it deviates too much from the canon they’re used to in the comics.

The fifth season Blu-ray includes a number of interesting featurettes in addition to the final 12 episodes. There are six minutes of deleted scenes and several featurettes.

Most relevant to the show is the 16-minute “Modern Mythology” featurette, in which the cast and producers look back on the show and how it put the pieces in place to move Bruce Wayne toward becoming Batman.

There’s also a one-minute promotional featurette called “Gotham’s Last Stand,” and a highlight reel from the show’s panel at the 2018 New York Comic Con, which turns out to be surprisingly spoiler-heavy considering it took place before the final season aired.

More interesting is a 38-minute featurette called “Villains: Modes of Persuasion,” a documentary about the mindset and psychology of comic book villains in general, with a particular focus on the villains from various DC Comics inspired TV series such as “Gotham,” “Arrow” and “Supergirl.” It’s a blatant cross-promotional tool, but an effective one.

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