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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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.