Monday, March 30, 2020

On The Air: Pennyworth (2019)

From the same warped minds that brought you Gotham (2014-9) comes a tale of the early years of Batman's major domo, Alfred Pennyworth. The series bowed on Epix last summer, and is still available On Demand. Catch it now while Epix is available for free to non-subscribers.

As our story begins, Alfred (Jack Bannon) has been discharged from the British Special Air Service (SAS; the equivalent of our Air Force), and is working as a bouncer at a London nightclub while developing his own business as a security agent. Yes, he does come from a family of butlers, as his father is one. However, executive producers Bruno Heller & Danny Cannon have mashed together a number of elements that a Batman fan might recognize, though the names might be different. For example, the Raven Society, the villains on this show, could easily be an analogue for the Court of Owls, Scott Snyder's contribution to the Bat-mythos, for better or worse.

Many of the episode titles for season 1 reference British singers or actresses (i.e. Julie Christie, Marianne Faithful) from the 60's, and the opener kicks off with a round of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black", which served as theme music to the 1980's Vietnam drama, Tour of Duty. In short, Heller & Cannon are using Pennyworth as a sort of homage to the 60's British spy dramas (i.e. The Saint, Danger Man).

However, where this plot falls off the track is the supposition that Thomas & Martha Wayne worked for something called the No Name League, which is, of course, in opposition to the Raven Society. Like, please! I recall that in the late 90's, Marvel tried to suggest that the parents of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) were spies. I've heard of going off the grid, but this is ridiculous. Now I know why DC Universe has been reluctant to pick up reruns of Gotham up to this point. Some folks don't agree with Heller & Cannon's warped vision.

Edit, 11/26/20: YouTube has made the trailer age-restricted. In its place is a title card:

And in the books, DC decided to let Tom King kill off Alfred late last year. We think. Ya just never know.

Rating: B-.


Spuddie said...

"SAS; the equivalent of our Air Force"

Not to be a pedant, but the SAS is the equivalent of our Delta Force.

hobbyfan said...

Oh. The Air part of the name had my attention.