Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Episode: Gotham, Scorpion, Forever

Ooooo Gotham (Fox, Donal Logue, Ben McKenzie), ooooo all the villains in younger forms, ooo its young Bruce Wayne. That's it, that is why I didn't give a hoot about this show -- why would I want to watch a Batman show without even the possibility of a Batman? Sure, Gotham is a character unto itself, the deeper, darker version of Manhattan with all those elevated trains and a corrupt police force & government. But even the promotional campaign annoyed me, as they dropped hints about incidental characters who we know would grow up to be big players, such as Selina Kyle the street kid or Ivy, the daughter of a thug who hides behind her potted plants. And all that, "Which one is the Joker? Is it the standup comedian??" So, I was not looking forward to this show.

But surprisingly, I was not all that bothered by the first episode. This is tooled for the fans of Arrow, with a sort of drama light. Gotham is gritty and dirty, but not so much so that its always night. And honestly, anything with Donal Logue is going to have me watch at least occasionally. But really, it was Ben McKenzie sporting a confounding tough-guy accent (did I catch hints of growly Christian Bale?) and the clear values of Jim Gordon that made me enjoy it. There is no way he can clean up the entire city or even the GCPD in the first season, but I was happy to be convinced he will try. But with a level head on his shoulders, not all gung ho, "You guys are all corrupt, I am gonna take you down !!"

I will probably watch a few episodes until I get bored or more annoyed by the references.

Meanwhile we have mostly no names in Scorpion (CBS, Elyes Gabel, Katharine McPhee, Robert Patrick). Billed as a non-comedic version of The Big Bang Theory (because we always have to provide common ground) with overly intelligent, socially inept people who are gathered together to save the world each week, this was not as terrible as I expected it to be.

Oh, it was pretty bad. We have a white male math genius, a white male psychology genius, a white male (but Irish, ooo the ethnicity !) genius genius (one of the 5 smartest people in the world) and a wh...er, Asian female technology genius.  Token smart girl has to be Asian. So, one understands numbers, one people, one machines and the last is smart enough to know everything. Together they are smarter than all of us (I mean all of us) but they cannot pay their bills or keep relationships because they are emotionally crippled. Like a room full of Sheldons.

Except, they are not. Main character Walter O'Brien is well dressed, obviously works out, has friends and at every turn is cracking smiles, connecting with people and understanding the emotional impact of what he is doing. But they add the occasional interpersonal flub to remind us. And the math genius can talk to pretty girls; now THAT was the most unrealistic bit.

They are gathered by blacksuit Robert Patrick (Homeland Security, NSA, something like that does not matter) to save a bunch of planes that cannot land because of a virus in the LAX air traffic system. No one can get hold of the planes and they would rather them be blown out of the sky than attempt dangerous landings.  ??!?!

But all together, this silliness was kind of fun. The tech talk is your typical mix of technical bullshit with a dose of truth so it sound real. Their solutions are way over the top (such as connecting a network cable from a low flying plane to a speeding car) and the interactions are fun. I could actually enjoy this, as long it doesn't ever try to take itself too seriously.

P.S. The show is also stylishly titled as </scorpion>. Uh, closing a tag to connect something to tech is soooo 10 years ago. And its not even proper syntax. <scorpion /> would have been more appropriate.

Speaking of common ground, I can hear the elevator pitch for Forever (ABC, Ioan Gruffudd, Alana de la Garza, Judd Hirsch). Its Castle meets Bones meets Elementary meets New Amsterdam. That's alot of meeting. So, we have the cop & non-cop partnership, charming and well dressed. We have Dr. Henry Morgan as a coroner / medical examiner, who also happens to have a Sherlock style of noticing details about people & situations. And finally, most importantly, he is immortal. If he dies, he instantly appears nearby, naked, in a body of water.

Now, given it has the directing and writing style of Castle, I am built to find it appealing. Surprisingly, Gruffudd who has annoyed me in movies past, is becoming rather charming as he grows older. And the relationship between him and Judd Hirsch just seals that for me. You see, Hirsch is effectively his son, adopted in the 40s and the two have been together since. Abe has aged but Henry is still late 30s. But the two display such a bond, inter-changing father and son, as the situation plays.

The story of how he became immortal is somewhat explained, but with enough mystery to play out for a few seasons. Also, Henry has a "fan", possibly another immortal who is taunting him. As long as they don't end up with tons of mythology, which overshadows the buddy cop show, it could last awhile.

Of the three, I think Scorpion will die the quickest. Despite being on Fox, Gotham will have the most support and it will be up to Forever to find an audience to stick around.