Tag Archives: FOX

Thoughts on the new GOTHAM trailer

It has been a fair assumption from the beginning of its inception that a network television show set in the city of Batman would go to series. Yesterday this foregone conclusion became a reality. As a further mark of Fox’s investment in this destined ratings hit, they debuted the first extended trailer for Gotham during the long-awaited season premiere of 24: Live Another Day. I caught it later in the evening on YouTube and have since watched it several times with evolving opinions and reactions meandering through a debris field of nostalgic wonderment, emotional bias, and objective critique. Watch here:

My first viewing “blink” was somewhere in the neighborhood of “Is this real life or am I dreaming?” and giddy excitement. As a dedicated fan of Batman and his environs since before I could read (Batman is on my personal Mount Rushmore of pop cultural royalty), each new telling of any aspect of the Gotham story is met with a high degree of passionate anticipation. This series (although not a revelatory concept, I sketched out my own version of Gotham centered on the GCPD with my neighborhood Batman fan club chapter in middle school) focuses on the world of Gotham before a young man was forced to dress up in a cape and cowl and the trailer lets you in on many of the key players. The foreboding music and tone feel like remnants of the Caped Crusader world that Christopher Nolan built (this is only a good thing). Ben McKenzie’s brooding and mostly silent (at least in the trailer edit) Detective Jim Gordon is the story’s protagonist and from the trailer, I am ready to ride shotgun in his squad car. It appears as though showrunners have chosen to make Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock more Andy Sipowicz from NYPD Blue (tough love mentor) than Bunk Moreland from The Wire (sloppy and soulful drunk) and I am fine with this. I am not sure what to do yet with Jada Pinkett Smith’s big bad boss, but she does seem primed to give a most hammy and villainous performance. The Wire’s John Doman’s unexpected involvement (unlisted on IMDB) was a welcome treat. Production and direction value (and I recognize that this is all footage from a higher pilot budget) seem to be at the highest level of network television capability (not every series can be as gorgeous to look at as Game of Thrones).

There is just so much wonderful here that it took a closer look to figure out what seems slightly off. Although I recognize the value of exploring the young Bruce Wayne’s ascension to masked vigilante and at least the immediate impact that his parent’s murder had on the psyche of the urban community, I am not sure there was a worthy purpose to so overtly backstory all of these villains. In all of my Batman following years, the only villain that intrigued at this expositional level was the Joker (and he seems that he is being intentionally saved for later season February sweeps). Everyone else was created as reaction to Batman’s existence and only live in the Gotham world because of the stakes that Batman has so dramatically raised. Why not eliminate this element and tell a gritty drama of urban decay rather than a overwrought and repetitive comic book origin story? I remain the ever hopeful and will graciously add Gotham to the top of my DVR queue in the fall, but at least part of this diehard wishes that my beloved character’s world was to be told with a slightly different storytelling palette.

‘Gotham’ casts Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle

The upcoming Gotham series continues to add actor batarangs to its casting utility belt. David Mazouz will be playing thirteen year old Bruce Wayne, post parents murder and pre masked vigilante phase. You may remember young Mazouz from the recent Fox drama Touch starring Kiefer Sutherland, but based on the relative success of Touch, you probably don’t. Selina Kyle will be newcomer Camren Bicondova, whose character description matches what would have happened to Little Orphan Annie if she had never met Daddy Warbucks. All of this remains incredibly exciting. If you had told any version of my younger self that in 2014 there would be a new Muppet movie release, a new U2 album (not yet announced, but it should be here by the end of summer), a movie directed by Christopher Nolan (bring it, Interstellar), and a new Batman live action series, I would have asked if I had died and gone to heaven. For now, I am content with a trip to Gotham.


Who are these people? Four more cast in “Gotham”

Gotham casting news is an exciting prospect.  This iteration even included A-List characters like Oswald Cobblepot (better known as the Penguin) and Alfred Pennyworth.  If you were expecting familiar faces, think again.1

If this show succeeds, which I think it will, Sean Pertwee could become the next Alan Napier, but for now the pertinent press release information from Fox comes from the character descriptions.  Oswald Cobblepot will be “a low-level psychopath for gangster Fish Mooney” and Alfred will be a “tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London” who is “fiercely protective of the young Bruce Wayne” in “the wake of their tragic deaths.”  I love that the Artist Someday To Be the Penguin is involved in organized crime and that Alfred has a military background.  Also, we learn that Gotham will begin after the Thomas and Martha Wayne murders in the the Batman origin story timeline (although I expect many a nightmarish flashback).

Although not as exciting in pre-buzz speculation, casting relative unknown actors is a good thing longterm to allow the audience to build a loyal relationship with characters that have already been portrayed so many times throughout so many Dark Knight story iterations.  Holy anticipation, Batman!

  1. Unless you are an aficionado of Event Horizon or someone who knows where to find USA Network on your cable box. 


This week’s aptly titled episode of The Following is oftentimes exactly what I wish this serialized television convention of viewer discretion would let me do.  When I committed to writing weekly “recaps” (it may be a leap at this point to even call them that) back in January, I was optimistic that this journey would deliver me engrossing entertainment and a quality drama series on network television.  Seven weeks in, The Following is a bit of a chore, a necessary evil that I have committed to (at least for season 1, more on that in a bit), and a mixed bag of potential success and writing room narrative drivel.  At its best, The Following is a 2013 lesser-version of an average episode of 24 that through sharp pacing, main character grumbling angst, some computer literate savvy assistance (Mike Weston fills in as a less ironic and more personable Chloe), and “where is this all leading” intrigue provides a fairly watchable program.  At its worst, The Following is a challenging experience, soaked in horrific dialogue, the silliest of character relationships, unmotivated and off-putting gratuitous displays of violence, and a premise that when put under the plausibility diagnostic test fails every time.

Most weeks in which pages of the script had the setting as “the farmhouse” and dialogue from characters like “Jacob” or “Paul” or “Emma” were of this latter, worst case iteration of The Following.  This week’s “Let Me Go” episode was thankfully devoid of Jacob and Paul (at least Joey was concerned about their well-being, Emma/Denise was unfortunately still around for the festivities) and was at least moving the narrative forward in some game changing kind of ways, albeit mostly through the implausible lens that has been the filter we have come to expect and dread.  Yesterday, Fox announced that The Following had been renewed for a second season (New Girl, Raising Hope, and the “you are not doing anything better on Tuesday night at 9:30 so please join in on the fun” The Mindy Project also were picked up) and after careful consideration, I see this as potentially good news.  My hope is that now the writing team led by Kevin Williamson will be able to consider the show more as a Joe Carroll long con and less a series of irritating new follower outbreaks.  It has the airtime to go somewhere, so let’s see where it can take us.

In brief summary of the key plot developments of “Let Me Go” with the farmhouse in our collective (sigh of relief) rear view mirrors, Emma/Denise brings Joey to an auto mechanic, pseudo-follower named Bo who seems to be angry about a lot of things.  On a trip to the little boy’s room, Joey discovers Dana, a young woman locked up in a cage.  Meanwhile in FBI land, through some Olivia Warren attorney dialogue to the warden about torts and 8th Amendment rights (clearly, real lawyers were not consulted on authenticity), Joe Carroll is granted a transfer to a prison in Georgia because he was mistreated by Ryan Hardy and the FBI.  (Quick tangent that I wish The Following went on: wouldn’t it have been great if the prison transfer was curtailed when Joe Carroll’s U.S. Marshall bus ended up somewhere outside of Woodbury in the fictional world of The Walking Dead? Joe Carroll, please meet the Governor!  Or better yet, I would love to see Denise/Emma have a showdown with a field of walkers!  Kevin Williamson, make this happen).  Through some careful detective tactics known as “common sense,” Hardy and sidekick Mike Weston (becoming a more integral and appreciated member of the good guy team) figure out that the warden has been coerced into the Carroll transfer because it turns out that the caged woman in Bo’s shop is actually his daughter (ooh, I didn’t see that one coming).  Naturally, the prison transfer is a rouse, Joe Carroll escapes in the trunk of Olivia Warren’s car, he then strangles her and puts on a suit (in the opposite order), and arrives at a building showcasing a sterile cafeteria environment for professionals.  Ryan Hardy is just one step behind and after a dogged, guns ablaze in a public building pursuit, has a little confrontation with free man Joe Carroll on the stairwell leading up to the roof.  This leads to this speech from Joe: “We have only just concluded the first part of our novel, yes, Ryan.  For nine, long years I have sat in my prison cell outlining this entire story in my mind.  I meticulously planned all of it, with a little help from my friends.  That’s a Beatles reference, by the way…There is so much more to come, Ryan.  I’ll be in touch.”  Carroll leaves Ryan with his lackey, Ryan shoots the lackey in the leg, and hustles to the roof, but it is too late: Carroll is airborne in his getaway helicopter (Hardy decides to shoot bullets at it anyway).  In the episode’s denouement, the FBI team finds Dana alive but Joey’s abduction party has escaped.  As she goes into protective (not even Hardy will no where) custody, Claire Matthews is particularly displeased with the FBI performance in finding her son.  Ryan may have to start bringing out more of his inner Jack Bauer (i.e. stretching the rules even more).  In the final scene that seems to set in motion the second part of the Joe Carroll novel, the Carroll rescue party (welcome to the team, knife-wielding Louise) arrives at a late night gathering at some secluded fraternity-like house where he is met by Denise/Emma, Charlie, a band of new follower extras, and Joey, who was hoping to see Mom, but Dad will have to suffice.

In the true spirit of optimism, now that The Following has a second season mandate, I am hopeful that it will be able to carve out a more engaging narrative strand.  Despite my general difficulties with the premise (especially that Joe Carroll could be considered this awe-inspiring figure), I am game for the developments in “Let Me Go” and could not be happier that we are out of the farmhouse.  At the very least, The Following is a place where (“really?!!,” as in ” Really with Seth Myers”) Beatles references occur in the middle of important speeches, so there’s always that.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  


Yes, “The Fall,” this week’s “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the farmhouse” episode of The Following, may have destroyed (finally!) the pitiful “Emma, Jacob, and Paul share a life together” construct that had mired this program in some of the worst dialogue TV has ever heard, but based on the “everyone is a follower” new reality that allowed for an unrealistic escape and SWAT team coup d’état, there may be no light at the end of this serialized tunnel.  Notwithstanding, there is much we can learn from this episode about what is to come, about life, and about Claire’s taste in music.

Without further ado, here are the 11 most important things we learned from this week’s “The Fall” episode:

1. Ryan Hardy’s Kryptonite may be any kind of electrical shock that messes with his pacemaker.  Other Kryptonite candidates include drinking alcohol out of water bottles and getting involved in Joe Carroll’s case in the first place.

2. It is possible that Joey cares more about Paul and Jacob’s well-being more than Emma/Denise/crazy nanny.  It is also possible that Joey is a follower because based on the events in “The Fall,” anyone can be a follower!

3. At the end of the episode, Claire and Ryan were competing for the “most awkward hug ever on network television” award and at this point they are the one to beat.

4. Meghan Leeds, contrary to past actions, can successfully escape from farmhouses by running away.  Meghan, we are so proud of you.

5. Claire loves the music of Celine Dion (at least enough to attend a live concert, albeit a benefit).  Joe Carroll (“good god”) apparently does not.

6. In the world of The Following, “I am your follower” may be used as a pick-up line.

7. Paul, Jacob, and Emma are not the brightest characters that ever been conceived for television (Oops, we already knew that.  There is no harm in confirming).

8. Charlie, Claire’s abductor, seems like the ideal candidate to replace Emma in the Jacob/Paul love triangle.  His “lost and not too bright” quality will fit right in.

9. The writers of The Following think that conversations about embarrassment over “being gay” resonate with audiences.

10. Parker’s trip to Iowa in 2004 to see her cultish parents did not go too well and it wasn’t because the Field of Dreams park was closed for the season.

11. Next week Joe Carroll, through some legal wrangling, is granted a prison transfer (and we know how well prison transfers always seem to go).

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  For more in-depth opinions on movies, check out the “5 Things You Need To Know” page.


In my “searching for an explanation” mind, this is the conversation that could have happened in the writers room between The Following showrunner and head writer Kevin Williamson and Rebecca Dameron, a staff writer whose previous credits include Army Wives and Dirt, after last week’s “viewer discretion is advised because it is terrible television” episode titled “Mad Love”:

RD: Hi Kevin, do you think I could talk to you?

KW: Of course, Rebecca.  What is on your mind?

RD: I have been working on writing next week’s episode and I was hoping to run some of my ideas by you.  Some of them may be a little dramatic.

KW: Ooh, more drama?  Like another shower scene for Paul, Jacob, and Emma?  Will there be more amazing senseless and unjustified violent scenes?  Will Meghan, the store clerk hostage, have another opportunity to cry?  I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

RD: Actually, I wanted to try something a little new…

KW: Ok, I mean are we talking about showing Ryan Hardy using a bottle of soda instead of a bottle of water as an alcoholic container because we haven’t tried that yet?

RD: Hmm.  Not that.

KW: There are several of Poe’s short poems that we haven’t used…

RD: Yeah, so I was kind of thinking that it might be time for the whole farmhouse plot to reach a climax.

KW: Rebecca, this show is on Fox at 9 PM so although I would love to show more of the Emma and Paul sex scenes…

RD: No!  I was talking about having Ryan and the FBI find the farmhouse and attempt to rescue Joey.

KW: Hmm.  Has Joey even had enough time to check out all of his toys yet?  It seemed like he just got to the farm?

RD: Yeah, so I was going to call it “The Siege” and Ryan and some local police are going to find the farmhouse just as Joey is realizing that this whole experience is not really what it seems.  I also thought I would end the episode in a little cliffhanger with Ryan being caught by Paul in an attempt to rescue Joey.  The last shot would be a gun to Ryan’s head.  Hopefully this will set-up a standoff between the FBI and the “followers” with Ryan and Joey stuck inside.

KW: Wow, there is a lot to consider.  So your cliffhanger is not going to involve the reveal of a new follower and a showcase of an awesome violent act?

RD: No, I was just thinking that you would be left with the uncertainty of Ryan and Joey in danger?

KW: Well, if you are going to call it “The Siege,” there must be some wonderful opportunities for the most violent casualties along the way.  I mean, unjustified and gratuitous violence is our brand!

RD: Yeah, I thought about making the casualties come across as justified and real.  I also wanted to introduce a new layer to the plot involving Joe Carroll’s lawyer sending a message through the media that sets the next group of followers into action.

KW: More followers?  I always just assumed that Emma, Jacob, and Paul would be enough?

RD: I just thought that since the show is called The Following, maybe Joe Carroll’s endgame has to be a little bit more involved than just these three and the memories of Rick and Jordy?

KW: Alright, Rebecca Dameron.  Go for it!  I am off working on a new screenplay called “I Know What Dawson Did Last Winter” anyway.  Best of luck with your teleplay!

My crude attempt at satire notwithstanding, “The Siege” (actually penned by Rebecca Dameron), was definitively the best episode of the series to date and really found its way in the 24 model.  The suspense and pacing were on point, the plot actually thickened with productive forward movement, the “lawyer message/unleash the twins” subplot took the show in an appreciative new direction, and, although there were still deaths on this murderous trail, they were within the construct of the story and did not present as gratuitous for violence’s sake.  This was riveting TV and represents a respectable high ceiling for what The Following could consistently be.  I hope Rebecca Dameron gets more opportunities (or writers like her) and that next week’s “The Fall” is finally the fall of the farmhouse follower love triangle of Emma, Jacob, and Paul.

What do you all think?  Did “The Siege” deliver some new hope?  Are you excited for another episode devoid of violence for violence’s sake?  Does Joey get some revenge?

David Bloom can be reached on twitter at @davidbloom7.  He writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.

Following the Following: The Poet’s Fire

Poor Ryan Hardy.  The burdensome symbiosis of his relationship with serial killer and incarcerated Poe mask cult leader Joe Carroll (as we learn in this episode, Hardy may have had time as one of Carroll’s followers, albeit non-violent) haunts his every waking (of which there are only, he’s not going back to the hotel to sleep) moments.  Each layer of Carroll’s master plan Hardy touches seems to be mired with new death by new means (Eye stabbings!  Public burnings!).  Hardy’s career success (each episode features another “I loved your book!” vignette) is intertwined and forever linked to Joe Carroll’s own serial killer career aspirations.  Without Carroll there is no Hardy and more and more, without Hardy to torment, Joe Carroll is just another charismatic English professor of 19th Century American Literature.

Although “The Poet’s Fire” was stuffed with some of the troublesome dribble that had diluted the enjoyment of the “Pilot” and “Chapter Two” (the scenes with the nanny and the fake gay neighbors are some of the worst moments of television I have ever experienced especially when Paul decides to “blow off some steam” in town), I am beginning to see this show in a different light.  As discussed a few weeks ago, The Following was billed as Fox’s attempt to bring a “the revolution was televised”-like show to network television, with all of the grittiness and storytelling risks that can come with it.  So far, those “risks” seemed to be consigned to superfluous “in your face” violence that were unwarranted and wholly unnecessary.  It was violence for violence’s sake (because The Following was somehow different) and as a talking point for the water cooler blogosphere, a challenging viewing experience.  “The Poet’s Fire” may have burned some of this silliness out of the system and illuminated The Following for what it really is – a well-paced, intense, “danger around every corner” thriller, that is less about the minions who cause damage, but more about the pyschological chess match between Ryan Hardy and Joe Carroll.  It’s ceiling is not Breaking Bad or The Shield, but instead a post Bush administration version of 24 in which Ryan Hardy’s Jack Bauer (and “Greatest American Hero” as dim-witted prison guard so maniacally sang for us) has a nemesis that is less about destroying the world and more about destroying Hardy’s world.

Jack Bauer from 24What made 24 so successful for so long (Kim Bauer and cougar battles aside) was the understanding that Jack Bauer’s tribulations through each “bad day” were going to be inherently compelling, but had to be relentlessly suspenseful.  We were going to go down all of those (often unrealistic roads) because Jack was our guy and we inevitably wanted him to succeed amidst all that adversity.  If The Following keeps the gas and the focus on “torment Ryan Hardy machine” and maintains its already somewhat successful serialized pacing, there may just be something here.  When Annie Parisse interviews Carroll, he turns to the camera (and Ryan Hardy’s audience on the other side) and says, “It must be very hard for you to be surrounded by the stench of death again.  I know this takes a terrible tole on you.  You must be careful.  What, with that little heart of yours.”  Yes, The Following writers!  This is what I am talking about!  Everything that Joe Carroll is doing is meant to destroy the already “drinking alcohol out of water bottles” Ryan Hardy.  Hardy recognizes that Carroll is “bating [him]” and that he “should have seen it coming.”  Even minion of the week and fire obsessed Rick wants to “tell Ryan it was all for him.”  In a final stroke of “nail the point home” clarity, Joey’s email video to mom ends with a smiling and waving to Ryan.

This narrative path with Ryan Hardy as the ultimate fooled follower who “knows what [Carroll’s] followers feel” may be Fox’s ticket to success.  Monday’s at 9:00 PM (24, House) have been a traditional Fox winter haven, and The Following may have, in its third week, found a formula for a meaningful future.

What do you all think?  Can The Following be a 24 incarnate?  Is Jordy going to be missed?  Why does the kidnapping subplot irritate us all so much?

David Bloom can be reached on twitter at @davidbloom7.  His other pop culture writing can be found on Bishop and Company (bishopandcomp.com).