DID YOU READ

ADAPT THIS: “Gotham Central” by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

Gotham Central

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.

 


This Week’s Book: Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark

The Premise: We all know about Batman and the villains of Gotham, but what about the police? What is the daily routine like for a police officer when you have a costumed vigilante patrolling the streets, and a long list of super-powered criminals looking for a challenge? This is the story of the people keeping Gotham safe who don’t wear masks.

The Pitch: A police procedural set in one of DC Comics’ most famous cities, Gotham Central had a critically praised, 40-issue run authored by two of the greatest authors of crime stories in the comics industry. Like Law & Order with the occasional cameo from costumed heroes and villains, the series put the focus on the daily events transpiring in the lives of the police officers and how the unique stress of their careers affects them and everyone around them.

There was talk of a Gotham Central television series back in 2003, but the failure of the Birds of Prey series reportedly caused Warner Bros. to put a hold on any projects related to Batman. It’s a shame, really – because Batman and his rogues gallery played such a small part in what made the comic book series so popular.

Much like the perceived threat of the shark in Jaws or the unseen enemy that could be lurking around any corner, Batman’s presence in the Gotham Central universe was often limited to mentions of his activities or indirect communication with the Gotham City Police Department. He was an entity that characters were aware of – mainly due to the fallout of his activities or his enemies’ schemes – but rarely met face to face.

Much like many television procedurals, the Gotham Central comic book series was divided into two narratives that occasionally mingled: the day shift and the night shift. The day shift would generally involve the more formal procedural elements, while the night shift would usually feature the more colorful aspects of the department’s duties. And in the style of shows like Law & Order, cases were generally handled in episodic format, with each issue devoted to a particular crime from the point of discovery to the close of the investigation.

With little need for effects-driven superhero or supervillain elements, a Gotham Central television series would likely hit the sweet spot where fans of gritty procedural drama overlap with fans of dark comic-book tales – two audiences that seemingly dominate both big- and small-screen media these days. While the network would have to tread lightly with the comic-book element (so as not to scare away fans of the more traditional police procedurals), that aspect of Gotham Central would also give it a unique angle to bring in a wider audience.

In the comic book series, Rucka and Brubaker proved that the lives of Gotham police are not only a fascinating subjects on their own, but there’s also no end to the amount of stories that can be told in a city like Gotham. One particular story focuses on the girl whose job it is to turn on the Bat Signal – an unsung duty that carries a lot of weight in the universe Gotham Central inhabits. A talented writing staff could easily get the ball rolling on a Gotham Central television series using the existing material – which already feels like a television series – and let the show grow into its own world.

A good adaptation of the series wouldn’t shy away from letting its very real, very damaged characters develop while exploring the less-flashy elements of police work, and not go out of its way to appease comics fans. Simply by following the Gotham police as they do their jobs, the show would give comics fans more than enough characters, locations, and other referential elements to make it clear that the story is set within the DC Comics universe.

The Closing Argument: Think Law & Order meets Fringe and you’re on the right track for a Gotham Central television series. Given the series’ limited reliance on the more colorful elements of the DC Comics universe, and its foundation in character-driven, well-paced, procedural drama, a Gotham Central television series seems like a no-brainer for today’s audiences hungry for mature storytelling that provides a unique twist on old favorites.

 


Would “Gotham Central” make a good television series? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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