The fight for order and control in Gotham is deadlier than ever with the introduction of cunning, new DC Super-Villains who might alter the future of our heroes and their beloved city. With the Indian Hill fugitives on the loose, Jim Gordon takes matters into his own hands as a bounty hunter in order to save the city that he loves, but will he accomplish his mission to find deranged mastermind Hugo Strange and Fish Mooney, one of Strange's villainous subjects? While Gordon plays bounty hunter, Gotham City Police Department's Bullock and Barnes remain on the frontline in Gotham, fighting against crime and destruction in the monster-ridden city. The city seems to be descending further and further into chaos and darkness as burgeoning DC Super-Villains Penguin, Edward Nygma/The Riddler and more are joined by the future Poison Ivy, now transformed into a young woman who's harnessed the full power of her charms, and Jervis Tetch aka Mad Hatter, a. talented hypnotist teetering on the edge of madness. All the while, a young Bruce Wayne discovers that there are still more secrets behind his parents' murder as he peels back the curtain on the infamous criminal organization known as the Court of Owls.
Gotham continues to be one of those TV series that can be both completely engaging some weeks and frustratingly annoying in others. Just when you think the series has taken a turn for the better with a multi-episode storyline, it turns around and dives into the same problems that have plagued it in the past.
As a bit of a recap of my own feelings about the show, I thought Season One was pretty wonderful, essentially taking the Batman mythos and turning this "prequel" into what was a weekly crime-drama, as Jim Gordon (the consistently good Ben McKenzie) fought the mob corruption that had infiltrated his city. As much as that first season scored points with me by being different than Warner Bros. other superhero series on the air (almost all of them, unlike this one, residing over on The CW network), I thought Season Two was a big disappointment – introducing a ton of unnecessary villains from Batman's "Rogue's Gallery" and making Gotham not much different than those CW shows I had previously praised the series for not copying.
After the mess of a cliffhanger that ended the previous season, Gotham does a pretty good job of cleaning things up in just a few episodes – perhaps a realization that the series was going a bit off the rails. The plot then turns to one of the best arcs of the season: Jim Gordon's attempt to win back his true love, Leslie "Lee" Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), despite the fact that she's already engaged to another man (played by James Carpinello)...who just happens to be the son of noted crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Doman). It's when Gotham focuses on more realistic situations such as this one that the series is at its strongest; however, the writers just can't help themselves here – turning Lee's fiancé not only into a bad guy, but turning him into yet another of the series' "super-villains".
The whole onslaught of bad guys is an issue that continues to drag this series down. I wouldn't have an issue if the show focused on a small number of baddies over the course of a season (which was very much the case when this show first came on the air). But now viewers need their own whiteboard to keep up with this city's long list of adversaries. Some of them – like an arc this season featuring the Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) – work well, but too many others don't work at all. The show also has an issue in Season Three with going out of its way to bring characters seemingly "back from the dead", only to dispose of them again a few episodes later. This happens to several familiar faces in this batch of episodes, but none more frustrating than the character of Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), who is arguably the best villain this series has seen (and who may or may not wind up becoming the Joker), but who only gets a handful of episodes after his "resurrection" before he disappears again.
Season Three introduces viewers to The Court of Owls, a shadowy secret society who just may be the real power controlling Gotham. Most of their storyline early on in the season focuses on Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), but they eventually converge with Jim Gordon and our other main characters and play a big part later in the season. As for our more familiar villainous faces, there's a nice adversarial arc between the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) this season, as the latter of the two finally begins to develop into the super-criminal we're familiar with in the comic books.
And I've only touched on some of the various plotlines above...going into them all would take up far too much space and time. I haven't even had time to go into the issues with Gordon's boss Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), Gordon's crazy ex Barbara (Erin Richards), or the "she's back", "she's gone", "she's back again!", "she's gone...for good?!" carousel involving Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). Yes, Season Three is uneven, but there's enough here to enjoy that I think that this batch of episodes is worth picking up. At the very least, as crazy as it gets at times, Gotham is never boring – and I guess there's something to be said about that.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Gotham arrives on Blu-ray in a slightly thicker-than-average keepcase that contains a plastic hub holding the second and third discs of this four-disc set. There are a pair of inserts included: one with a code for a digital copy of the season; the other a tri-fold listing of all of Season Three's episodes, with a short synopsis of each, which disc they appear on in this set, as well as a listing of the bonus features on each respective disc. There are no front-loaded trailers on any of the four 50GB dual-layer Blu-rays, and the main menu is a still of the same image that graces the box cover for this release, with menu selections across the bottom in the typical Warner Bros. style. A slipcover with artwork matching the keepcase slides overtop the case.
The Blu-rays in this release are region-free.
Each episode of Gotham is shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras. The presentation here is in 1.78:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Gotham remains one of the better-looking TV series currently on the air, with a dark, film noir appearance overall but still a show that has a lot of fun with its palette, often providing viewers with a carnival mix of colors.
The image is sharp throughout most of these 22 episodes, with facial features that show plenty of detail. Black levels are nicely strong, and only a minor amount of noise creeps into the background from time to time. If there's any aliasing and/or banding to be found here, it's extremely minor and was not noticed by this reviewer. The presentation here is on par with the prior two seasons, and viewers of this set will be quite pleased overall.
The featured audio for each episode in this set is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Gotham continues to be one of the best-sounding shows on network TV, and these lossless tracks are right on par with what the first two season sets provided. Dialogue is crisp and clear, ambient noises and use of the surrounds abound, and there's lots of LFE use considering that this is a television series.
Gotham is one of those rare TV shows whose audio production mixes compare favorably with a lot of major movie releases. While I wouldn't call these tracks "fully immersive", they do provide a level of immersiveness that most series on the small screen just can't match. And while these tracks don't quite reach the reference quality of some theatrical releases you'll find on Blu-ray, Gotham just might be my favorite TV show to listen to on a weekly basis.
With the above noted, I also did not pick up on any problems in the tracks – no dropouts, muddiness, or glitches of any sort. Everything here is well-rendered.
In addition to the 5.1 lossless tracks, 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks for each episode are available in Portuguese. Subtitles are an option in English SDH, French, Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese.
Deleted Scenes (HD 0:59) – A select number of episodes on this release contain deleted scenes. Disc One includes deleted moments from the Season Three premiere "Better to Reign in Hell..." (0:34) and from the fourth episode, "New Day Rising" (0.25). Scenes much be watched individually for each episode, and there is no scene selection for individual scenes should the episode in question have more than one deleted scene (not the case on this first disc).
Deleted Scenes (HD 5:14) – Cut scenes from the episodes "The Red Queen" (0:36), "The Executioner" (2:29), "Time Bomb", and "Ghosts" (2:09).
Madness Rising: The New Villains of Gotham (HD 9:58) – This featurette takes a look as some of the new faces of evil viewers will encounter in Season Three, consisting of the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, and the Court of Owls. Executive Producer Ken Woodruff is on hand to provide comments, along with comics historian Alan Kistler.
Deleted Scenes (HD 4:31) – Cut scenes from the episodes "Smile Like You Mean It" (0:43), "How the Riddler Got His Name" (2:36), and "Light the Wick" (1:12).
Deleted Scenes (HD 1:37) – A single deleted scene from "Destiny Calling".
Gotham: 2016 Comic-Con Panel (HD 28:22) – The panel from the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, which took place a few months before the Season Three premiere. The panel is moderated by Chris Hayner from zap2it.com and features stars Ben McKenzie, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Erin Richards, Carmen Bicondova, Drew Powell, Jessica Lucas, Morena Baccarin, Chris Chalk, and Michael Chiklis, along with Executive Producers Danny Cannon and John Stephens. It's a really fun watch (it's nice to see a cast that obviously enjoys working together), and an extra that you may wish to view before watching Season Three (no major spoilers here).
Ben McKenzie's Directorial Debut (HD 2:20) – The star of Gotham got his first chance to go behind the camera with the Season Three episode "Those Delicate and Dark Obsessions". Here's a brief look at his experience.
The Dark Within the Dark: The Court of Owls (HD 12:02) – This featurette takes a look at the shadowy secret society (and the major villains of Season Three) that runs Gotham from behind the scenes.
Now having completed its third season, Gotham remains very much a hit or miss show, sometimes becoming quite engaging, but often making the mistake of overpopulating its story arcs with too many villains and other assorted characters. Season Three is still a step up from the rather unfocused Season Two, making this one fall in the Recommended category.