PENNY DREADFUL / GOTHAM [Reviews]: A Penny for your Gotham?

"Divine" Derek Vigeant @uncledarryl37
“Divine” Derek Vigeant @uncledarryl37

Hello, congregation of the Church of Geek. “Divine” Derek Vigeant here to talk about some of the other shows on the boob tube (or computer. Or iPad. Or what-have-you) that don’t feature the words “game”, “thrones”, or “devil”. It’s not to say these shows aren’t up to par, but, well, between binging on Netflix and waiting some of the higher-profile programs, these might slip under the radar. But I’m here to change that!

So what’ve we got this time? Only Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, and Fox’s own gritty superhero/criminal underworld show, Gotham. Both are different, and both have a lot to offer this season. On to it…!

Episode 108
The League of Extraordinary… GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKSS!!

Penny Dreadful – Season 2 Premiere

Here we go with Season 2 of the supernatural-melting-pot-of-horror-big-Showtime-hit-of-2014: Penny Dreadful. But first, a confession: I wasn’t the biggest fan of this show. Now, now.. I didn’t NOT like it– just seemed to me like everyone liked it more than me. Why am I bothering to mention this?

Because Season 2 has started off damn well.

There doesn’t seem to be much passage of time from where we left off in Season 1. Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) wakes up the next day after he has slaughtered the American men who were trying to take him back to the States. Is he aware that he’s a werewolf? His face seems to have that confused look when you wake up naked in a stranger’s bed and have no idea how you got there. And then you realize it’s your best bro’s sister and you’re even more lost.

Chandler goes to see the very troubled Ms. Ives (Eva Green) to tell her he’s leaving the city, but, ironically, the pretty duo is attacked by three crazy demons. You know, those who are only sent away when Ives’ “other self” comes out spitting some dead dialect and sends the hellspawns fleeing.

"No matter what you do to me, you cannot use my Netflix account..."
“No matter what you do to me, you cannot use my Netflix account…”

Afterwards Ethan decides to channel his inner Kevin Costner and hang around to protect Ms. Ives. So where did these nasties come from? Enter Madame Kali (Helen McCrory), who we saw a little bit of in S1. We find her bathing in a bathtub of blood — to which we finally must have found the real mom to Dandy from American Horror Story:Freakshow — and commanding a group of gothic female hotties to terrorize Ms. Ives. Oh, and she likes to lay by the fire and profess her devotion to Lucifer! Got it.

Throw all that in, along with Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) and his creation Caliban (Rory Kinnear) in their attempts to resurrect Brona Croft (Billie Piper) so that he can have a frickin’ ladyfriend. C’mon, there had to be some old Victorian version of Tinder, no?!

After a sluggish first season, it seems as if Penny Dreadful has hit its pace in all its wonderful morbidity and disturbance. They’ve jumped right in with a more cohesive S2, since there’s no more need for character or story set-up. But maybe it’s just the Divine One? Either way, there’s plenty of reason to get excited to ride some bats into hell with Season 2. 3.75/5 Bowler Hats


Faith No More.

Gotham – Season 1 Finale

Despite the fact I attend every panel and Q&A on Gotham in town, this doesn’t mean I’m afraid to admit that this first season came with its share of ups and downs. Every time I thought that stride was coming, the Batman-show-without-Batman would revert to something ridiculous: i.e. Fish Mooney– Queen of the Catacombs?

BUT! At least this finale was fun.

The gang war craziness between Falcone (John Doman) and Maroni (David Zayas) finally comes to a head, and, unfortunately, one of them did not walk away from it. But the return of Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith) to Gotham City made for an additional factor that neither boss anticipated. Literally, all the guns went johnblaze with this ep.

Now, while there was a recent announcement that Pinkett’s Fish wasn’t returning next season, her ***MAJOR SPOILER*** death scene was never close to being as epic as anticipated. And although I wasn’t a big fan of the character to begin with, there could have been a better way to exit the show than mere splashes. Fish and Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) finally got to brawl, and the wrestling moves used for the finish were beyond lackluster (Don’t believe me, ask Bishop Zom!). Thankfully, Taylor embodies everything vicious, cunning, and exciting about a comic book supervillain. If he ever leaves, I’m through.

"Alright, alright! No more Game Of Thrones spoilers! Just...stop...hitting me!"
“Alright, alright! No more Game of Thrones spoilers! Just…stop…hitting me!”

Now to the other sides of Gotham… Barbara (Erin Richards) becomes Batshit crazy. She hangs out with a serial killer for a couple nights and then, next thing you know, he flicked her nutjob switch to ‘on’. Although Batgirl’s adopted mom has been crazy to some extent in the comics, has it ever been to this magnitude? Nope. Don’t like it. Couldn’t be happier about Dr. Thompkins (Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin) putting her in her place, though. I hope this helps counter those people who say that non superhero women don’t get to kick some ass on TV, because there was plenty of it on this episode.

And here’s a bold prediction: Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) isn’t long for the GCPD force. He is slowly losing his shit now that he’s had his first taste of power from killing and it’s going to propel him into the character we’re all waiting to see. Finally, this show is supposed to be about Jim Gordon, but you know everyone just wants to see what they do with junior Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). The brief end reveal was at least an indication that they are moving little Brucie forward, and perhaps no longer just sitting around sulking about his parents.

To wrap, this season wasn’t the best. The show, more times than not, can barely keep up with the stellar efforts of its DC sister shows, Arrow and The Flash. Maybe my expectations for “the goofier side of Gotham City” have been far too high, that disappointment was only imminent. Thankfully, it appears like creative might be taking a turn for the best, and giving fans and casual viewers of the show something more than a mere shadow of the bat. 4.25/5 Switchblades.

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