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Gotham: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray Review)

gotham s2 coverThe first season of Gotham was a disappointment. Despite some commendable aspects in the form of a few unhinged performances and a definite style, the series was too all over the place with the characters and story. The second season, dubbed “Rise of the Villains”, was an improvement as far as providing the series with a sense of direction. There were still issues inherent to the series, but the show was still stronger overall.  Now you can check out the review of the second season of the continued hit series and what this Blu-ray set has to offer.

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Series: 

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As many know, the series revolves around an earlier time in Gotham City, before the days of Batman. Ben McKenzie stars as Detective James Gordon. He is partnered with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Following a first season that dealt with the various gangsters in Gotham, this season revolves around the rise of more nefarious characters in Gotham’s underworld.

The season revolves around a lot of familiar faces, such as Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin, Cory Michael Smith’s Edward Nygma and Erin Richards’ Barbara Kean. Each have sinister new goals set for Gotham and those who get in their way. We also revisit the journeys of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred (Sean Pertwee), along with Camren Bicondova’s Selina “Cat” Kyle.

Additionally, many new characters make their debut. Most notably, the first half of the season is dominated by James Frain’s Theo Galavan, an ambitious politician with some notable ties to the Waynes. You also have Michael Chiklis as Nathanial Barnes, a new police captain, Jessica Lucas as Tabitha Galavan and eventually the great B.D. Wong as Dr. Hugo Strange.

This Blu-ray set includes all 22 episodes of the second season.

  1. Damned If You Do…
  2. Knock, Knock
  3. The Last Laugh
  4. Strike Force
  5. Scarification
  6. By Fire
  7. Mommy’s Little Monster
  8. Tonight’s The Night
  9. A Bitter Pill to Swallow
  10. The Son of Gotham
  11. Worse Than a Crime
  12. Freeze
  13. A Dead Man Feels No Cold
  14. The Ball of Mud and Meanness
  15. Mad Grey Dawn
  16. Prisoners
  17. Into the Woods
  18. Pinewood
  19. Azrael
  20. Unleashed
  21. A Legion of Horribles
  22. Transference

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While the ensemble is increased, despite the many characters who perished last season, the series still runs into a number of problems when it comes to juggling so much. This mainly applies to the star of the series, Gordon. While McKenzie is fine in the role, there is only so much he can do when put in the same position. Fortunately the season attempts to mix up his standing with the GCPD to make for some interesting twists and turns.

The highlights of this season should easily come from the villains presented. This is a bit more of a mixed bag, as some characters really shine, while others do not. Taylor’s breakout role from last year feels a bit worn down this time around, given where the series take him. However, he gets his chance to shine alongside Smith, who develops just fine into an early form of The Riddler.

There is also a continued issue with the female characters on this show and how they are involved in this series. For every positive action they make or ones that stem from their own choices, the series finds a new way to undermine them, which is a shame. Morena Baccarin’s Dr. Leslie Thompkins easily suffers the worst in all of this, while Gordan’s former fiancé, Barbara, is given a much better way to be, thanks to the series allowing Richards to go off the rails with her performance.

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The arc of the season is a bit mixed as well. The first half of the season is dedicated the rise of Galavan, which is fine, but lacks more to really help the character leave an impact. Hugo Strange is a more enjoyable character to watch, but the second half of the season really stretches the investment with the series and its tone, given some key choices.

Speaking of tone, however, while all over the place in terms of story and character, I can’t deny having gotten used to the production design and other stylistic choices that make up this series. While not as fun (this season is actually incredibly violent) as The Flash (which had an admittedly darker second season) or clever and action-packed as the Marvel Netflix series out there, this show has a deliberate style that makes Gotham feel unique to itself.

Overall, the second season of Gotham is an improvement, but still not great. It has all the potential to be better and hopefully it can reach that point. Until that time though, there is an enjoyable show here. The actors mostly commit and the style is pretty grand for a series like this. Adhering to Batman mythos may only be partially on the minds of the writers, but the series has certainly carved out a place for itself.

Video:

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Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Gotham continues to be a sharp and nicely defined series to watch on Blu-ray.  There is a lot of great detail to take in, given the varying locales and sets featured in this season. Aspects such as costume design also play a huge role.  All of this comes through incredibly well.

Depth: There are aspects of the city and its underlining that do a fine job of conveying the sense of depth that is nicely handled for this Blu-ray.

Black Levels: Much like the characters, there are a lot of dark and shadowy aspects to the look of this series and they come through very nicely thanks to the dark and inky black levels featured on this Blu-ray presentation.

Color Reproduction: Given the style of the series and the different locations, there are some key moments that play quite well in regards to the use of color, which is fine for a series like this. The increased comic book nature of the series benefits what we see here.

Flesh Tones: Things like lighting, locations, and other aspects keep the characters in constant flux, but textures and flesh tones always come through.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing of note here.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Gotham is a lot of things, including a really great source of different audio elements. The series has a lot going on in terms of big musical swells in the score, the action, and characters talking and yelling. There is a strong handle on the presentation that helps this all come together.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is given the chance to go to work often. This Blu-ray does a fine job of allowing the subwoofer to leave an impact.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels do their job in immersing the viewer throughout every episode, regardless of the series’ quality.  The ambience, score, action, and dialogue are all balanced quite well, making for a solid three-dimensional experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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Spread across all four discs, most of these extras are simply promo pieces that reveal very little about the making of the series. It is irritating that not one commentary track exists on this set, as it would be good to hear a bit more of a candid discussion about the series from the cast and crew. There are a couple features on the fourth disc, however, which actually provide some decent insight.

Additionally, the series arrives in a standard case, housed inside a cardboard slipcover. Inside you can find a handy guide to which episode is on each disc, a brief episode synopsis and a list of the special features.

Features Include:

Disc One:

  • Aftermath (HD, 4:45) – Divided into four parts, Ben McKenzie, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith and Erin Richards talk about their character’s dilemmas.
  • Father’s Office (HD, 0:24) – An incredibly brief teaser of what Bruce and Alfred are up to this season.
  • A Look Back (HD, 3:21) – Donal Logue, Sean Pertwee and Taylor look back at the previous season and what comes next.
  • Maniax Jermoe (HD, 0:24) – A promo for another of Gotham’s sinister characters.
  • Strike Force (HD, 1:58) – A look at what Captain Barnes brings to Gotham
  • He Who Laughs Last (HD, 1:47) – A look at one of the greater threats of the season, following the removal one key villain.

Disc Two:

  • New Days, Dark Nights – (HD, 1:36) – A look at the days ahead for Jim Gordan and how hard they will be.
  • A Look Ahead – (HD, 3:09) – Divided into four parts, this feature asks questions of Bruce and Alfred, Penguin, Nygma and Gordan about where things are headed.

Disc Three:

  • The King (HD, 1:54) – A look at how in-control Penguin really is.
  • Gotham: 2015 Comic-Con Panel (HD, 16:19) – The recorded panel for San Diego Comic-Con, before this season had started.

Disc Four:

  • Gotham By Noir Light (HD, 25:37) – The best extra on this disc, by far, as it is the only feature that delves into the influences on Gotham and what the filmmakers do to make the series play as it does. Worth watching for sure.
  • Alfred: Batman’s Greatest Ally (HD, 25:34) – A look at the role Alfred has played in the Batman universe over the years.
  • Cold-Hearted: The Tale of Victor Fries (HD, 10:12) – A look at what drives one of Batman’s key villains.

UltraViolet Copy Of The Series

Summary:

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Gotham is still a decent show, with potential to be better. A lot of the right elements are all laid out in front of the creators, but the show misses a number of marks to hold it back from being better. Still, the series looks great and has a committed cast. That in mind, the Blu-ray is very strong. Audio and video quality is terrific and there are plenty of extras to keep you occupied as well, despite the lack of much substance. Enjoy catching up on this series if you can, while waiting for season 3.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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