TV Check-In: Gotham, Jessica Jones and iZombie

by Matthew Thompson

Time to check in on some more shows that wrapped up for the year. I’ve got three more comic book shows to talk about: FOX’s Gotham, Netflix’s Jessica Jones and The CW’s iZombie. Be warned: these contain some spoilers for each show’s Fall season. Here it goes!

Gotham (Season 2 Episodes 1-11)

Gotham Season 2

This show is just completely bonkers at this point. Every episode has something crazy happen. Someone’s hand gets lopped off suddenly. A police pursuit ends in someone exploding when shot. An army of Penguin lookalikes descends on a party. It has made for a pretty wild ride this season and I am having a lot of fun watching it.

One thing I wondered about when Gotham started was how they would handle all these villain arcs. Will they just set up villains for a Batman phase of this universe that we will never see? And will that make Gordon’s confrontations with these foes less interesting? Luckily they haven’t been afraid to play with some of these characters in strange ways so far and I feel the show is likely better for it.

This season has also benefited from a more serialized approach to its storytelling – something that really began to take greater shape towards the end of last season. They have even managed to make things work that didn’t in Season 1. For instance, I honestly can’t believe how much I like this crazy version of Barb. And then there is more of what I liked about the first season too. I love Gordon and Bullock and this weird anachronistic take on the city of Gotham. The Penguin continues to entertain. Not everything works and it isn’t must-see TV, but it feels like an improvement on the first season and has been a fun way to spend an hour each week this Fall.

Jessica Jones (Season 1)

Jessica Jones Season 1

While I happen to watch a lot of superhero shows, I’m not really a big superhero fan. A large part of the appeal of Jessica Jones for me was the idea that superpowers take a back seat to her work as a private investigator. It helps that I happen to really enjoy private eye stuff. Most notably Veronica Mars, but also things like Terriers or even seeing the investigators work on The Good Wife. It is always super entertaining to see the little tricks they pull to find out what they need to know. There is certainly some of that here and the whole thing feels like a unique take on the ever-growing superhero genre on TV.

More so than any of that what makes Jessica Jones riveting is the antagonistic relationship between Jessica and Kilgrave. There is a history here that unravels throughout the season. There is a cat and mouse game as she tries to put a stop to him. There is the way the whole thing delves into how this abusive relationship has affected Jessica. Kristen Ritter plays the damaged Jones well and I really enjoyed her sarcastic side too – I find her lack of patience with some people to be hilarious – while David Tennant made for a compelling presence as Kilgrave who has to be one of the creepiest villains on TV.

What is clearly the strength of the show is probably what leads to its biggest failing. The way Kilgrave slipped from Jessica’s grasp a couple of times towards the end felt like a contrived way to keep the arc going the whole length of the season. I wish this was handled better as it got a bit stupid at times and is my only major gripe. I thought the supporting cast was a bit of a mixed bag as well, but with the leads being so strong that isn’t a big deal. The series is a bit psychological thriller, a bit noir detective show and a bit superhero show. It is very dark and it is very good. Now I should probably get around to watching Daredevil!

iZombie (Season 2 Episodes 1-9)

iZombie Season 2

Season 2 of iZombie has been a great follow-up to the first. This is now TV’s best procedural by far in my opinion. The brain of the week is what really makes each of these cases shine and this Fall has seen some really great brains pop up. We’ve had the hilarious Frat Bro-Liv and Real Housewife-Liv. We saw them take a more serious approach with the stalker brain which helped illustrate how her personality changes can affect her relationships. And the speeches and music that accompanied Superhero-Liv were just pitch perfect. Rose McIver continues to do great work while taking on all of these different roles week in and week out.

The way the writers manage to deftly juggle these procedural elements with the myriad of serialized plotlines continues to impress me. Along with ongoing storylines like the search for the cure, we saw a new dark journey for Major. In addition to Blaine and Vaughn Du Clark, we saw the introduction of a new villain Mr. Boss – an intimidating presence in an odd package. Throw in the various romantic entanglements and iZombie could easily feel overstuffed, but it never does and the writers deserve major credit for that.

There are so many other little things I loved about the show this season. Like Ravi naming Major’s dog Minor. Or learning how Clive is frustrated with GRRM’s writing pace. My favorite moment was probably Blaine announcing his arrival at the morgue by singing The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” – because you know… he was there to ask about the zombie cure – and the ensuing scuffle with Ravi which the show of course accompanied with the actual song by The Cure. It was absolutely brilliant. iZombie continues to be exactly my type of show and I can’t get enough of it.

That will do it for this TV Check-In. I am hoping to do another one of these soon with a big roundup of the comedies from the Fall. Thanks for reading!

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4 comments on “TV Check-In: Gotham, Jessica Jones and iZombie

  1. Great TV Check-In! I’m a couple episodes behind Gotham. Yeah, this crazy version of Barbara is more fun than that last season where she disappeared for a long stretch lol.

    I’m caught up with Jessica Jones and totally agree about Kilgrave escaping time and again. The last stretch of episodes didn’t raise the bar, might have been better to trim down the season to 10 episodes. Hope you like the rest of Daredevil.

  2. Jessica Jones had a lot of interesting ideas but not all of them really led to something worthwhile and cohesive. However, Tennant and Ritter were both on fire throughout, and they anchored that show. Overall, still enjoyable.

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