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Nerd fight: Which is better? ‘The Flash’ or ‘Gotham’

🕐 5 min read

Hank Stuever (c) 2014, The Washington Post. Every Thursday, Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever hosts an online chat on all things TV. On the minds of readers this week: the great “The Flash” vs. “Gotham” debate, whether Hank would revise any of his grades from the Fall TV Guide and just how excited (or not) viewers should be about the return of “Twin Peaks.”

“The Flash” vs. “Gotham”: Which show is better, and why?

Stuever: They’re both superhero shows, but they’re very different — starting with the fact that “Gotham” doesn’t have a superhero; the once-and-future Batman is still a little (fabulously wealthy) orphan boy. “Flash” is more recognizable as something that might have come out of a comic book; “Gotham” is clearly more of a graphic novel. I think “Gotham” is the better written, better acted, better conceived show, but “Flash” has some charms. I gave “Gotham” a B-plus in the fall guide and “Flash” got a C-plus, so there you go, in terms of scoring the two.

Am I missing something … Or has nothing been canceled yet? (“Utopia” doesn’t count.) Isn’t that a little surprising?

Stuever: Nothing yet, but plenty of shows are getting close. Top losers include nearly all (or all?) the new rom-coms: “Selfie,” “Manhattan Love Story,” “A to Z.”

“Forever” is not looking so hot and “Red Band Society” has a do-not-resuscitate form taped next to its door. Somewhat tragically (I think), the new CBS crime dramas — “Scorpion,” “Stalker” and “NCIS: New Orleans” — are doing well.

If TV schadenfreude is your favorite thing, then you need to follow the Cancellation Bear on Twitter: @TheCancelBear

Revising grades: You said in your “Mulaney” article that you’d give the show a C-plus instead of a C now. Are there any other shows that you’d adjust the grade for — either up or down — now that you’ve seen more?

Stuever: I might take “Madam Secretary” down to a B from the A-minus I gave it based on the pilot; and I’d probably adjust “Gracepoint” from B-minus to a C. Other than that, standing firm.

#SaveDallas: Is the campaign doing any good? Are the networks listening to fans?

Stuever: I don’t think there’s much hope in getting TNT to reverse its decision on “Dallas,” which had a pretty good run for three seasons. I thought the first season was a whole lot more fun and interesting than most reboots and I admired how they handled Larry Hagman’s death and a funeral for J.R. Ewing. But I admit I had not been watching much since then, and almost none of season 3. I wasn’t alone — viewership fell considerably toward the end. The #SaveDallas fans should probably focus on bringing their cause to fledgling but deep-pocketed outfits that are looking for more shows to add to their streaming lineups — Yahoo, maybe? AOL?

That said, success in streamingville is about buzz, cachet and the wired youth (“Community,” for example, is a good example of a canceled broadcast/cable show that could work as online-only show), and I don’t know that “Dallas” can bring that hipster demographic.

“Twin Peaks”: I was just a kid when the show came out back in 1990. I remember the hype at the time but never watched it. I see it’s on Netflix — what did you think of the show? Is it worth watching?

Stuever: I was a senior in college when “Twin Peaks” came out, and we were bananas for it. It premiered in April 1990 and would have made a very great miniseries if it had resolved itself six or eight weeks later.

So, the summer of 1990 goes by, the hype just got hypier (I think every single young actor and actress in it was on the cover of a magazine that summer) and David Lynch released an unrelated but very hotly anticipated film that August called “Wild at Heart” that was something of a letdown, mainly because of all the “Twin Peaks” mania. And then, in September, when the show came back, well (and I’m speaking here as someone who was not only alive for it, but technically an adult), it was not as good. Viewers moved on; ABC kept moving it around [the schedule] and then it went on hiatus. The network burned off the last episodes early in the summer of 1991.

There were always hardcore fans of the show who defended it long past the point of reasonable defense, when no one was watching it but them. All along, there were and still are great memories of the visuals and some of the characters. And the music and mood — there was a reason it captured our attention.

I just want everyone to remember — happy as we may be that Showtime says it will be bringing the show back in 2016 — how easy it was to lose interest in it. I say this even as a person who paid good money in 1992 to see “Fire Walk With Me” in the theaters. (Yes, a “Twin Peaks” movie!)

So, is it worth watching? That was your question. My answer is that “Twin Peaks” is worth watching from the beginning and then up to and a little bit past the point that you are bored out of your mind by it. If you get through all of the episodes, then good for you.

Re: “Twin Peaks”: True story: I sat in front of “Bob” at the premiere of “Fire Walk with Me.” It was incredibly creepy.

Stuever: That’s probably the most 1990s thing any of us are going to hear all day!

“Madam Secretary”: So are you still sure this is one of the better shows of the season? Do Post reporters really behave like the one portrayed in last Sunday’s episode?

Stuever: I’m wavering a bit on “Madam Secretary,” which had such a smooth pilot.

The reporter in last week’s episode works for the “Washington Chronicle,” and you know how they can be. Their TV critic is the worst.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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