Midseason Report Card: Is ‘Gotham’ season 2 a vast improvement on the original?

Through most of its first season on the air, “Gotham” was the sort of show we wanted to love more than we did. It never quite figured out what sort of show it wanted to be, and to us it felt mostly like a crime procedural with Batman references thrown in there as a form of appeasement.

Obviously producers figured something out from the spring to the season 2 premiere this fall, as the ratings have been remarkably steady ever since and the show has transformed into something that is dark but still fun, reminiscent in many ways of the Batman comic books. We feel like the success of “The Flash” helped to convince them that they don’t have to tip-toe around the strange, and we’re not just talking about Hugo Strange here. For more on our overall take on season 2 so far, take a look below in the latest entry in our Midseason Report Card series.

What worked – Theo Galavan. We’ve always enjoyed the work of James Frain, and he was the perfect man to play this villain. While we thought at times that Fish Mooney was a little out of place for what “Gotham” was trying to be in season 1 (she’d ironically fit more in now), Theo worked perfectly as a physical and intellectual rival for not just Jim Gordon, but also Bruce Wayne. The show found a different way to tie together these two stories, and while his sister Tabitha never had that much to do, she was still fun to watch just because she was deadly in her own right.

Also, let’s do a little celebration for the end of so many mob stories. We found a better use for Oswald Cobblepot, the Riddler’s journey is finally going somewhere, and It is interesting to see the dichotomy between how Jim wants to operate on the force and that of Captain Barnes, a man as black-and-white as they come in terms of law enforcement.

Finally, Barbara Kean. Maybe not everyone loves Crazy Barbara, but we’ll take her over season 1 Barbara any day.

What didn’t – The show is still in need of fixing its Selina Kyle problem, who at times seems to exist mostly to annoy people close to Bruce, or for quick puns to remind us that she will someday be Catwoman. She was slightly better in the fall finale, but we needed more of the journey to get us to that point. There were also some other characters who were under-served through the first part of season 2 (Lucius Fox, Harvey Dent), and we’re not entirely sure that the relationship with Jim and Lee is all that interesting.

Overall – While not perfect, we’re having a heck of a lot more fun watching “Gotham” than we used to. This is close to the show we expected it would be when it first premiered. Grade: B+.

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