Gotham Knights Cancellation Proves Haste Can Make Waste in Television

My wife and I were both disappointed to learn the new CW series Gotham Knights has been cancelled after just one season. While I had some doubts about the show when I first learned about it, we both saw some potential in the series, which focuses on Bruce Wayne's adopted son, Turner Hayes (Oscar Morgan, who, along with a group of young criminals, is hiding from authorities after being framed for his father's murder.

While the cancellation was disappointing, my wife and I both agreed it wasn't unexpected. As we both decided, the show was just trying to do too much too fast.

Look, I get it. In this day and age, where every network seems to have an itchy cancellation finger, I'm sure there is temptation to try to cram as much as you can into the first few episodes of a show as you try to gain an audience. The problem is that often proves to be counterproductive.

As part of this argument, I'll refer to the CW's arguably most successful series, Supernatural, which ran for 15 seasons (starting when the network was still referred to as the WB), spawned a handful of (unsuccessful) spinoffs and made stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles household names (along with Misha Collins, who was one of the stars of this now-canceled series). When Supernatural started out, it kept things very basic. There was the main plot of the two brothers trying to locate their missing father, but the show was mostly episodic in nature, focusing on them facing a specific monster each week and keeping the main plot relatively simple and more of a background thing. Then, as it built its fanbase, it made the plot a lot more complicated and added new characters.

Even the more recent series, Riverdale (which Gotham Knights reminded me a lot of) had a similar approach. Season 1 was more about character development and the more complex plots were saved for later seasons.

Gotham Knights, in comparison, took the opposite route. The show barely even introduced the main characters (I still struggle to remember a couple of their names) before cramming in an entire criminal organization (the Court of Owls), introducing various supporting characters that were quickly killed off and throwing in a big surprise twist about parentage. I think there were at least three or four seasons worth of plots and plot twists that were crammed into the first dozen episodes.

This also translates to the various relationships in the show, which weren't given time to develop organically and just feel forced. Turner went from not trusting Duella (Olivia Rose Keegan playing my favorite character on the series) to sleeping with her at the drop of a hat, and that hook up between...excuse me a second while I look up the character names I seem to have forgotten again... Stephanie (Anna Lore) and Harper (Fallon Smythe) just seemed like a desperate attempt to improve ratings.

I think you can also argue that maybe the whole superhero genre has been done to death at this point, especially since the CW already had a Gotham City-based show, Batwoman, that was canceled after three seasons and one casting change/soft reboot. However, while there's no way to say for sure this show wouldn't have been cancelled regardless of what it did, I think the fact the writers crammed so much into so little, at minimum, shows impatience played a significant role. Future series (and networks) should take that into consideration.


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