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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.