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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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