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Is He Batman Yet?
The wheels start coming off the bus in Gotham’s erratic fourth season. Bruce Wayne has yet to take up the mantle of the Bat despite Gotham city being overrun by psychotic villains and a corrupt police force. Ratings are down for the network show even though Gotham keeps adding crazier and more extreme Batman villains. Airing on FOX the past few years, Gotham has always walked a delicate tightrope between extravagant excess (think Fish Mooney) and menacing villainy (think Edward Nygma). That act starts wearing thin in season four.
Despite the token presence of a young Bruce Wayne, Gotham has always been about its outlandish villains. From Hugo Strange to Mr. Freeze, Gotham has embraced most of its colorful villains’ comic book roots. That worked out well in earlier seasons when oddly likable characters such as the Penguin were made the focus. Having already chewed through what seems like dozens of Batman’s foes in only three seasons, old faces are recycled in this uneven season.
Gotham’s cast largely remains the same with a few new faces. The cast is still led by Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Southland) as Jim Gordon. Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf) and Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones) join the cast this season as Sofia Falcone and Ra’s al Ghul. Sofia Falcone is Jim Gordon’s love interest for much of the season, as the mobster’s daughter tries to fill in the power vacuum left by her father’s death.
If there is one thing that this show has gotten right over the years, it’s the deep and impressive cast. Cory Michael Smith continues to be absolutely fantastic as the devious Riddler, showing a new facet of the character in season four. One hindrance continues to be David Mazouz’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne. Each season of Gotham keeps proving he’s outclassed in every way by the older cast.
That minor problem has held Gotham back from becoming the show it could be each season, as one of its pivotal characters is moved to the background by necessity. Bruce Wayne starts adopting some of the practices he’ll eventually become famous for as Batman in season four. He patrols the city from rooftops and drives around in a special black Mustang that anticipates the Batmobile.
If you have stuck around watching Gotham this long, you might as well finish it out
If you have stuck around watching Gotham this long, you might as well finish it out
Season four introduces a lot of stuff that doesn’t feel grounded for a show about a young proto-Batman living in Gotham. This season sees the third different actress to play Ivy, Selina’s friend. She magically transforms into a more recognizable adult version of Poison Ivy this time around. Season four has goofy stuff like mystic daggers tied to Bruce Wayne, the resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, Butch as Solomon Grundy, and Barbara Kean becoming the head of the League of Assassins with a magical force in her hand called the Demon’s Head.
That last plot development is one of the season’s big mistakes, elevating a mostly one-note fringe character and thrusting Barbara into one of the season’s main arcs. It’s a lame and unbelievable twist. For a character that was going to be written out of the show in season two, it’s a strange elevation that demeans everything else going on in Gotham’s dense storytelling. We also get Gotham tinkering with an idea ripped from the comic books, the Gotham City Sirens. This time the trio of female villains includes Selina, Tabitha, and Barbara. As much as the concept is fun and works in the comics, it falls flat on Gotham in what feels like badly over-cooked girlpower.
Season four has Bruce and Selina grow closer. Considering the state of television’s mores today, their relationship has developed at a glacial pace and been surprisingly tame even by network standards. Methinks that Warner Brothers has placed contractual limitations on the relationship, because this show has never shied away from going to extreme romantic entanglements. We aren’t far removed from when Gotham had the Penguin fall in love with the Riddler. After fan reaction was decidedly mixed to that bizarre melodrama, season four has the Riddler falling in love with Lee, Gordon’s former love. She is now the self-styled “crime” boss of a down-trodden area called The Narrows.
If you have stuck around watching Gotham this long, you might as well finish it out. After season four’s diminished ratings, Fox decided the show was only coming back for an abbreviated fifth season. Let’s hope Gotham goes out with a bang.
All 22 episodes of Gotham’s season four are spread over four BD-50s. Gotham’s bleak cinematography with stark shadows and darker tones occasionally undercuts its usually clean, revealing visuals. The 1080P video presentation is encoded in AVC and shown at the expected 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Viewers familiar with the FOX network broadcast of Gotham should expect to see consistently better picture quality on this Blu-ray release.
Gotham does rely on more CGI than usual for a network show. The action scenes are often murky with reduced shadow delineation. These factors dent the overall picture quality a bit. Exteriors are crystal-clear with razor-sharp definition. Fine detail isn’t filtered out but Gotham isn’t shot for maximum clarity. Close-ups render excellent levels of high-frequency information, while softer shots muddle things at the margins.
The city of Gotham is practically a character unto itself on the show. The digital color palette favors darker shades of black, veering on the verge of crushing. There is little warmth in Gotham’s bleak palette, flesh-tones are cold and pale. An even contrast doesn’t get pushed beyond normal clarity. Season four looks respectable on Blu-ray like prior seasons with no significant technical problems interfering with its video quality.
Gotham receives fine 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio with believable LFE output and strong dialogue placement for a television production. The excellent sound design lends itself to the widespread immersion of the surround elements.
There is convincing directionality and smooth panning across the front soundstage. Gotham has a higher budget than DC’s superhero output on the CW, which shows up nicely in its well-defined surround mix. This action fantasy relies on explosions and frequent gunshots to provide a real kick for the listener.
Surprisingly for Warner, no foreign-language dubs are included. Eight optional subtitles are included: English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
Gotham’s fourth season receives a Blu-ray set similar to Gotham’s prior releases. The four-disc Blu-ray set comes in a slipbox with a single sheet listing each episode. Gone are the small booklets that were previously included. An UltraViolet digital copy is included for the entire season, which at this point can’t be redeemed anywhere useful except at VUDU. The digital copy should give you HDX video quality on VUDU.
The special features are largely underwhelming. The few included deleted scenes are some of the most inconsequential ever put on a Blu-ray. The Gotham-specific featurettes contain no interviews with the cast members, entirely carried by people like executive producer John Stevens and other producers.
As of publication, it does not appear that Gotham received any store exclusives this time.
Solomon Grundy: Born On A Monday (09:53 in HD) – This featurette recaps Butch’s transformation over the season from mob underling to the fearsome Solomon Grundy. Mostly pointless if you have already seen the season, as much of its running time largely recaps his narrative arc.
The Sirens Take Gotham (12:57 in HD) – A look at each of the three ladies that team up in season four: Barbara Kean, Tabitha and Selina Kyle. Each woman’s background is examined and how it has impacted who’ve they become. Never mentioned is how this trio are nothing like the real Gotham City Sirens found in DC Comics.
The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels Comic-Con 2017 (58:27 in HD) – This is the same bonus feature that presumably will be found on every DC TV Blu-ray set released this Fall. It has edited portions of the Comic-Con panels for Gotham, Arrow and the Flash. Shot before the seasons would air, these panels are the usual blend of awkward jokes and fan chemistry.
Deleted Scenes (All in HD) – Episodes #3, #4, #6 and #11 all contain very brief deleted scenes, accessible only separately from their respective episode. Some literally only run 20 seconds, this is disappointing material that is forgettable. They were likely cut for being superfluous.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray release was provided to us for review by the studio. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.
Gotham: Season Four
An uneven season for Jim Gordon and friends, carried by a few strong villains. Gotham largely disappoints with competent but mediocre plotting in this season.
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