Just in time for winter, Fox’s Gotham has cast Mr. Freeze. Nathan Darrow, best known as Meechum, the bodyguard to Frank Underwood on House of Cards, will join the show for its second season. Gotham tells the origin stories of James Gordon, future Commissioner of Gotham City’s Police, and his hometown before the arrival of Batman. Ben McKenzie plays the role alongside Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, and a growing cast of superheroes and villains.
The series has strong critical reviews, despite criticism that it’s been searching for its own identity in the crowded comic’s hemisphere. Season 2 has been dubbed “Rise of the Villains” and is focusing less on Gordon as a savior and more on the development of the overall universe.
In early DC comics Mr. Freeze was created as a scientist who accidentally doused himself in cryogenic formula, resulting in a constant need for freezing temperatures and a villainous streak. More recently the character was reintroduced as Dr. Victor Fries, a leading researcher in cryogenics who experienced a subzero “accident” while trying to cryogenically freeze his fatally ill wife. From then on he required a freeze suit and swore revenge on, well everybody, since he’s a supervillain.
The character has appeared many times in animated and comic versions of the Batman series, always as an archnemesis to Batman and typically working alone. Freeze’s most famous (recent) depiction may be the 1997 Batman & Robin film where Arnold Schwarzenegger filled the freeze suit and froze Gotham with his freeze gun. I suspect, based on their choice of actor, this Gotham version will be slightly more nuanced and sophisticated.
Darrow has a solid history in theater prior to breaking into TV roles. A Kansas native, he returned to Kansas City after graduate school in New York to perform in a series of classic plays. His role in a touring cast of Richard III starring Kevin Spacey resulted in an audition for House of Cards, which led to his role as Edward Meechum. Though initially a small part, the role was expanded due to popular opinion.
Gotham has struggled with the same plight of most comic-based shows: high ratings at the premiere followed by a steady decline. (Someone needs to do a study on the viewing habits of nerds, really. Do we pick things up later, on-demand, or are we just one-chance-and-we’re-out viewers?) Gotham has the added struggle of being a dark, period-set crime drama that many people didn’t know how to categorize. Is it superhero action? Not really. Is it a character driven story? Kind of, but not in the same manner as Marvel’s ensemble pieces. And it lacks the techy-alien vibe that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to have fun with. (What? A weapon we’ve never seen and have no response to? Of course, because it’s alien!)
Gotham series premiere trailer:
But since Gotham’s ratings have leveled they’re holding steady week-to-week. After a series premiere of 8.3 million viewers, season 1 ended with 4.8 million, and this week’s episode – almost halfway through season 2 – pulled 4.3 million.
Compared to its competition, Dancing with the Stars on ABC, The Voice on NBC, and The Big Bang Theory on CBS, the sophomore shows only attracts 1/3 the amount of viewers, but it still draws more than double the audience for its Fox follow-on, Minority Report. In fact Report is the lowest rated show on Fox’s schedule this season, while Gotham falls squarely in the middle as the third highest-rated drama (Empire and Rosewood are leading.)
TVLine reported that according to Gotham executive producer John Stevens the Freeze character will turn up soon: ““The first time we see Freeze is in [the Nov. 30 episode], and then we’re going to be telling a heavy Freeze story in Episodes 12 and 13.”