'Gotham': 4 new-ish things about Fox's Batman prequel

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We had a deep-dive interview with Gotham showrunner Bruno Heller a couple months ago that answered many of the burning questions about Fox’s upcoming Batman prequel series. But when Heller took the stage at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Sunday, he still revealed a few fresh-ish tidbits about the ambitious series, which premieres Sept. 22 on Fox:

While there are several classic villains introduced in the premiere, Gotham will ease back on rolling them out: “You kind of have to front-load the pilot with the best that you’ve got, because that’s the way you have to open big,” Heller said. “As the show rolls on, we’ll be far more—not parsimonious, but careful with how we roll out the villains. And there will be more fun and more surprises and tricky ways of getting them in, rather than just presenting them. The Penguin comes pretty much fully fledged in front of us … but as we roll on, like I said, slower rollout.”

Gotham‘s pilot is more violent than you’d expect for an 8 p.m. drama based on a comic book, and that level of intensity continue: “I think violence, if you show it, should be disturbing,” Heller said. “That’s the only moral way to show violence. It shouldn’t be comical. Or if it is comical, it should have had some moral force to it. This is a crime story, and crime is violence essentially, or coercion. We’re all very aware that we’re telling a crime story to a general audience. Fox is right on top of that and very aware of the audience that they are trying to go for. I do think, generally speaking, the benchmark for what is acceptable violence has risen in society, and it’s very hard for any individual person or even individual show to calibrate that or work hard against that. Like I say, if this was not a crime show, then violence would be inappropriate. But once you’re in that world, then it’s important to, and I think morally correct to, make it disturbing. … Batman has always, if you go back to the comics in the ’30s, they were scary and disturbing, and it was precisely about a morally compromised, violent world. We’re not taking this somewhere it hasn’t been before. To a degree, people are sort of always slightly thrown off by the ’60s Adam West Batman—that was an anomalous Batman. He has always been the darker side of the id. He’s not Superman.”

How fast the villains evolve into their classic identities will be partly based on viewer reaction to them: “It depends entirely on one of the joys of TV series—which is you can respond to what pops with the audience or what actor pops. So the first year is very much about the rise of The Penguin [Robin Lord Taylor] and his titanic struggle with Fish Mooney [Jada Pinkett Smith]. But other characters will be introduced as we roll along through that first season. But we’ll respond to what’s working and what isn’t.”

Gotham is not set in any particular time period: Okay, this has been out there a bit, but Heller had a nice quote elaborating on the show’s timeless quality: “It’s a mash-up, to use the modern phrase,” he said. “If today Batman exists, then this world is the past. But it’s everybody’s past, an 18-year-old’s past and a 54-year-old’s past. So in your memory, the past is all mashed up together. So in this Gotham, it’s a kind of timeless world. It’s yesterday, it’s today, and it’s tomorrow all at the same time, because that’s the world that dreams live in.”

Previous from Fox’s TCA day:
Fox explains cutting ‘Glee’ final season order: ‘It burned so hot and so fast’
Fox: ‘American Idol’ contestants need to improve
‘Bones’ season 11? More ’24’? Fox chief gives odds

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