When season 2 of Gotham aired on channel 5 in January 2016 I decided to do my first ever live tweeting, as I felt this gave the show the support it deserved. This is where I discovered John Harrison and Derek O’Neill the hosts of Gotham Tv Podcast.
On a personal level I felt as a Gotham fan, listening to the podcasts widened my knowledge, enjoyment and made me aware that each episode can be looked at from a different perspective.
Gotham Tv Podcast cover everything from the Gotham Central comics, Dc movie reviews, exclusive round table and one to one interviews with the cast of Gotham, convention news and of course all three seasons of Gotham.
The good news that was recently announced they will be covering season 4 of Gotham at the USA pace! Currently the podcast episodes come out on a Wednesday, but with Gotham airing on a Thursday night in the USA the future podcasts will come out over the weekend. This will also give Gotham Tv Podcast to talk about any news that will be relevant for the show.
With Gotham Tv Podcast embarking on their 100th episode of podcasting. I took opportunity to pop on Skype and have a one to one chat with John and Derek about everything DC, podcasting and Cosplay and even our cats gatecrashed the interview.
What do you like about the Dc Universe?
John: Batman, ultimately for myself. There is Superman but I only came to Superman through the movies. Batman was the only really comic in the Dc collection I followed. My love for Batman started with Tim Burton’s batman, followed by a the slight train wreck in between, and then Christopher Nolan came along, I already loved his work on the movie Memento. For him to put that spin on the Batman world which to me echoed the reality of British, principally British authors in the early 80’s how they brought a realism or a more adult theme to Batman. I really enjoyed that and it’s interesting and that’s why I think Gotham was such an opportunity for us to do a podcast about.
Derek: for me I am very much a popular culture fan of Dc. As I grew up Batman was everywhere, I remember watching the 60s Batman show repeats every single week as a kid. Then the animated series came out and also watched that every single week. I was allotted too old for comics and cartoons as people kept telling me, but I never stopped. I would read the connected comics to Batman loads of Batman v Superman comics, I got to know the Dc universe through the eyes of Batman and there was no other character like Batman for me. You would see Arrow who was a little bit of a knock off, as the original creators believed that creating someone like Batman would get more readers in effectively, so you can go over and read a little bit of Arrow but I always got drawn back to Batman it’s one of the only comic books I have continually collected from DC, so that was my gateway for the DC universe. I would know all about the villains and the other characters if they appeared in Batman, otherwise I would not know them.
What did you think of the new Justice League trailer that was revealed at San Diego Comic Con?
Derek: it was fascinating. It looks like they are going to have a lot of fun with it. What’s interesting is DC started out their movie universe just trying to do Nolan with loads of different directors who aren’t Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan’s approach to the movie had been very much take out the comic book idea turn it back into a guy who has a lot of money and what could he does with a lot of money. There are still a lot of unbelievable elements as we have talked about before when we were reviewing it and talked about the Dark Knight Trilogy, but what they tried to do with Superman was turn an alien into a grounded superhero. There are some fantastic moments in Man of Steel I think it’s a beautiful film and really interesting but they probably needed a bit more lightness, a bit more fun to having a man that can fly. When I was a kid watching Superman this is something I would love to do, having those type of superpowers which is what fascinates you as a kid. Watching Man of Steel as it was done probably not exciting for a ten year old but very interesting for an adult watching movies. Now we are going into a stage where we have got Wonder Woman, which was a fantastic film! Batman v Superman which was great fun, they found a fun through line to it. Now we are going into a superhero team up movie, where they are going to have fun with it. It looks like a really enjoyable movie.
John: Definitely, although it’s the first I have heard of you wanting to wear lycra*laughs* Derek.
I actually think one of the great things about Gotham and certainly podcasting about it as well, you probably even focus in on it even more. Foremost there is a fan element, then you have to look at the episode slightly differently. We break our podcast down into five points because you are searching for those key points within the show. There is an element where you look at it differently in fact you watch it more then once very quickly just to remind you of the episode, or just to get a quote. You follow it in a slightly different way and what has been really interesting certainly from Batman even with the Tim Burton stuff is very dark, so is Nolan’s but in slightly different ways and I love that about Batman at the same time I love Batman 66 as well. Gotham to begin with we thought it would maybe go down a Nolan-esque type way certainly earlier on, as it was pitched as a detective show. One thing that kicked us off into doing the Gotham Central podcasts was Ben McKenzie on Twitter having the Gotham Central collected edition spread out as some of his reading for the role. There was Montoya and Allen who we’re on the show in the major crimes unit and we thought it was going to be that kind of show, over time we have seen it evolve I suppose with bits of blood and gore of Tim Burtons and the crazy deaths, more serious notes of Nolan. Then embracing the craziness of Batman 66 and I think it’s been really great to see that evolution. I will always mourn the loss of Montoya and Allen it’s a real shame I think they are great characters and would have been good to have kept them. The way they are evolving Gotham now it is starting to show some real strong direction in season three, showing some of their strongest solid work on Gotham.
Derek: What about Justice League?
John: I think…..I don’t know a lot about it to be honest.
Claire: I am not to sure about Aqua man, but I am looking forward to seeing what kind of character he is.
Derek: he does look like he is having more fun then anyone has ever had in a DC film.
John: I am excited to see Justice League certainly because Wonder Woman was awesome. That was a really awesome movie! We recently re-watched Batman v Superman again her part in the movie is really good as well. So in that sense I am looking forward to it and I know The Flash from the television series it will be good to see the take on The Flash in the movie world, certainly as he is being played by a different actor. I just don’t know any back story other then what has been told in the films. I was also thinking what other DC characters I like other then Batman. John Constantine I absolutely adore. Hellblazer that went on for many issues in the comics to the same extent as the walking dead, but then again it’s really dark and magic. Being a huge Doctor Strange fan and one of the great things about the Constantine series even though it was short lived they did Easter egg one of my other favourite DC characters which is Doctor Fate. His helmet that he wears was teased in Constantine, but then it got cancelled. If they did a mystical musical match up on Gotham of the mystical world that would be great and the great thing about that Ben Templesmith who is one of my favourite comic artists and writers now, did a great batman series which involved the mystical elements in Gotham.
Was it a joint decision to start podcasting or was one of you more keen then the other?
Derek: mmm yeah, that’s an interesting one. I am probably the podcast listener out of the two of us. I started listening to a podcast called the walking dead cast, which is based around the walking dead television series and another one of my favourite comics. After listening to it for about two years I was thinking these guys are doing a great job, Jason and Karen the podcasters have a great relationship and are really easy chatting. Both very geeky about certain things they have a discussion, they can argue about certain things and find a balance between them. For about two years I was thinking I like to talk, I’m a bit nerdy. John likes to talk..a lot and he’s a bit nerdy.
I like to ramble, probably.
Derek: and I thought we can do this! We needed to find an opportunity, Agents of Shield came along, the television show in 2013, We had talked for about two and a half months before that show aired about whether we would podcast about it, we didn’t do anything at all and missed the opportunity! So what I decided was the next opportunity we have when the next comic book related property comes up we are going to jump aboard and do our own podcast before anyone else gets word of this and then the perfect opportunity came up. 2013 was the year The Dark Knight Rises was released, then the following February 2014 when a proper confirmation was released that we were getting Gotham. We released our first podcast on the 3rd March 2014 one month after Gotham being announced. Ben McKenzie was the only casting confirmed at that stage. As John said we followed him on Twitter saw his post and said he had been cast in Gotham with a list of comic books he was interested in reading and that kicked us off for seven months worth of podcasting in preparation for a show we hadn’t even seen a moment of until five months into the podcast.
This preparation probably got us the entry via Warner Bros into New York comic con. Ultimately we were started just before the Gotham Addicts group. We were the two initial fan stuff that had started. For me in terms of podcasting, I came to it through Derek. Certainly he was the driver on Gotham but I became very keen, I always like doing the images and of course the talking.
Derek: John is very creative.
John: the podcast editing is a complete nightmare, although I have to put my hands up when it comes to me and editing, that’s why Derek is ultimately primarily the producer now and I keep saying to him I need come back in..
Derek: he doesn’t really want to.
John: it doesn’t really pan out that way. I do need to, but I love the process of podcasting I got on board with it to the extent that I did do unfortunately I was late again it was another learning exercise with Hannibal season 3. Unfortunately I hadn’t podcasted about the first two seasons, you really have to be there at the start. But there are another lot of ideas I have for wanting to do other podcasts, but of course with only the two of us and the same for Derek as well, I suppose it’s just time. Balancing it with family, friends and work.
Derek: also if we are podcasting we want to make sure we are recording the best show we possibly can between the two of us or three, even four of us. We always want to make sure we deliver something that we would listen to which is probably my guide, you make decisions over time on that whether to cut a weekly 2 hour podcast show down to forty minutes tight conversation where you get all your points in, which is one of the decisions we have made over time. Then there are other occasions on special events where we have decided to record a three hour full blown conversation because it’s the right thing to do on that particular thing because we will never talk about it again.
John: I would like to add to my defence *laughs* we definitely started off sharing the editing. I travel a lot with work there were times I recorded from my hotel room through a microphone on the laptop, that suddenly meant I could not necessarily do the editing. I did a lot of stuff for the website and it has just fallen away and I do need to get back to doing more behind the scenes.
Any previous experience in broadcasting?
Derek: my only experience is my best friend is a national DJ for a radio station over here in Dublin. I started when I was fifteen years old traveling to the community radio centre where he was working learning the ropes from him every Wednesday for three years until the end of my schooling. That’s the only experience of broadcasting.
John: my experience was with singing. I had been part of a choir recording in BBC studios in London for a recording with Procol Harem of their song “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, also for the proms as well. So that is the main recording element for me as been through singing and being a member of the Halle Choir back in the day when I lived in Manchester and there were a number of different recording events whether it was singing with Procol Harem or on the proms and a few recordings of pieces which were classical and choral and of course you don’t get to see the bank of knobs, buttons and sliders just delivering into a microphone which is what I am good at you see *laughs*. That’s why I think I could probably sing our next podcast, we should actually do a musical…
Derek: nope we are not doing a musical episode *laughs*
John: like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or like the episode of the flash.
How do you prepare for a podcast?
Derek: we work out the structure of the episode before we record every time we sit down we always put together our show notes and ideas for what’s going to happen. We have watched the episode a number of times and have an opportunity to write what we want to talk about, that allows us to have a structure. I think we were a bit more free form when we began podcasting. We were very free form we came into the episode and this is what we thought about it, off you go and that could lead to a two hour discussion about a very simple small plot line that didn’t matter. Whereas now with the shows we have been discussing especially with Gotham we have been podcasting three and half years.
How many times do you watch an episode before you record?
Derek: we attempt to watch twice minimum, that would be the best way to say it. We try and record on Monday evening, because Gotham airs in the early morning on a Monday in Ireland. It is available to us when we get up in the morning all the way through to the evening and record our podcast on a Monday at 7:00pm. That gives us the opportunity to watch it before we go to work, watch it at lunch time, then get our notes together and then potentially watch it in the evening then record. Watching it twice gives us an opportunity to form thoughts, with Gotham we probably have got a pretty good insight because we have been covering it for so long. We have got good insight to pull out the big points of the show, there will be times where we will watch an episode once where we may get a characters name wrong, a story arc that happened a season before hand wrong but pretty good at picking up the conversation after the first watch.
John : yeah, sometimes it depends on what is going on elsewhere. We need actually to get an episode out so it does forces you to do one take of the show and try and get it out. Because there are so many different elements, doing up the notes, doing the synopsis, getting the MP3 image, getting the episode image and doing the website it sounds as though I have said it has been rushed out, it hasn’t really maybe you only have to watch the episode once and really and try and absorb it all as much as you can.
You have used different discussion systems over the seasons of Gotham. How did you come up with it and why have they changed?
Derek: We started out with Five points each and when we had a discussion about it we kinda felt when we were both struggling to find five points per episode. Then each of us would choose a point, where one would be a very general point about the entire episode of the show. Then you suddenly start talking about one point that happened in the show and then the rest of the points are “did you see the colour of his coat it was the same colour as a character in the comic books, does that mean it’s this character?“. You suddenly got this point and it creates a forty minute conversation and the rest of the points become quick notes. Now we look at it all television series, all movies are three act structures. That gives you your big three points, then around those it gives you some individual elements and your other two points. By doing that it also prepares us much more in what we are going to talk about and we don’t have five points that don’t cross over. It does keep the shows more lean.
John: it definitely keeps them more lean. I also think it helps us, sometimes we would have three of the same points. In the end trying to pick out ten points where actually quite difficult.
Derek: on occasions we would try and get one up on each other and think “I bet he won’t pick up this point, or if I get to talk first then I would be talking more because I got to pick the big point in the episode.”
The podcast we got the concept from is the Walking Dead Cast the first big television podcast and the first one I listened to. Sometimes they would have three people on the show, where they now do a three point structure where each individual person has their three points but even with that half the show can be sometimes one person going “oh actually that is my point as well so can we move on to the next point”. Then you can’t help thinking why put all in the work writing up the notes and all the points you have and the other person write up their own notes and points, we should combine them and have a general conversation about each one.
All the research you do for each episode, for example the director, lead writer has that been easy to find or can it be difficult?
Derek: Sometimes simple, sometimes difficult. The worst part is probably if we have missed a character who is known in the DC Universe and we don’t know them off the top of our head. There have been characters in the past that have passed us by completely, we have had moments in the show when we are doing episode by episode coverage if you miss out that character and they were in three episodes back and then come back as an important character and we go “We have just completely missed the point of our podcast!” * both laughing* So absolutely, research is key, we are very lucky in some senses we don’t record immediately after the show so we do have time to investigate some of this stuff. What we want to bring to the table is as much knowledge as we can without using “we know more then everyone else”. Everyone can know more about particular subjects then other people. But I suppose one of the key rules we have, which we always fail on by the way, for all of our podcasts is one word we are not allowed to use is ‘obviously’ we do use it a lot and you will hear it every now and then
John: we really do try and not use it.
Derek: because the word ‘obviously’ means “I know this so you should”. So for our listeners we have picked up a piece of trivia and we have picked it up because we have watched it and realised, or picked it up through IMDb, Wikipedia or any of the other channels that we talked about. We have picked it up, but someone who is listening have had no idea at all. Maybe they are listening to us because they want that information. One of the key things, we have it written out we try ensure if we find a piece of trivia we deliver it as if the listeners may not know it at all.
John: it’s definitely something we try and not say. I am always constantly saying ‘definitely’ and ‘absolutely’ and I am like will you just stop it! *laughs* it is very much in podcasting trying to prevent some of those leading words that you would naturally do in conversation and limit them, much as the same when using erms for example. One of the funniest things about podcasting was just we got to really appreciate the little ticks or habits we do which we never thought, so saying ‘erm’ was used a lot especially in the first lot podcasts. Even though we were in our own room talking to one another in our own house which we do all the time, you knew eventually this would be going out and there was a nervousness there. I know when we have had on our other podcast that was to begin with four. Irene and Chris who came on board for that, the first episode of that quite nervous and intense we were like we have to be careful what we say and don’t say, conscience about your own voice it’s a strange and weird experience doing that. One of my habits I used to do this strange click before I would say ‘erm’ and you could see this spike, but I don’t do it now or say ‘erm’ but occasionally it might pop in there, It was almost involuntary click.
John do you listen to any podcasts?
Yes! I started listening to the “Walking Dead Cast” which I got from Derek, also the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. podcast “Welcome To Level Seven”. I kind of don’t listen to much about television series, more podcasts about films. I really adore the Empire film podcast I really like them. And the American podcast NowPlaying they are also very good, I also enjoy the Nerdist podcast as well because they have guests on. The Empire podcast is really good, Chris Hewitt is an excellent host. Daniel Butcher who leaves feedback on some of the episodes of Gotham used to be on Welcome To Level Seven and I listen to Legends of Gotham as well because we used to do a lot of work with them, which was great.
You receive lots of feedback from your listeners, is there any feedback you have not read out on the podcasts?
John: Not too much. My only recollection is just one. Only one. Thankfully that kind of situation hasn’t really happened.
Derek: listeners can leave feedback on Twitter and Facebook accounts. On Twitter conversations can go the way Twitter Conversations go. Sometimes there has been feedback, particularly in the first season, when people were jumping off Gotham, leaving Gotham as fans, because they came on board with a different expectation of it and may not of met of what they thought the show was going to be. We became a little bit of a focal point for that at the beginning, also Gotham Addicts got a lot of that as well where they almost blame everyone else in the community for not understanding their opinion and why people still watching the show are so wrong rather than the people who were leaving the show were just not into it. Every type of “Geekdom” has people that are fans of the actual thing and people that are coming with their own expectations. We definitely encountered, we got a few of those comments “that’s it I’m out. I will never listen to your show again” then go on venting what they didn’t like about the show. That’s not what we do, that’s not the kind of podcast we talk about. If you want to criticise a show you’re absolutely right, if you want to dislike us and talk to us about what we are saying and what you are not interested in, absolutely, but if you decided you are going to be away from the show and watching it and you’re not going to listen to our podcasts there is no real point in us airing your opinion.
John: absolutely! Similarly we were on a massive learning curve about doing audio, graphics, design, production, editing and a website. You listen back to our earlier stuff it’s very different. There has been a development in the progression hopefully to the shows we produce, the format for example. For me I look back on it all very fondly we went through and still are going through a journey of thinking did that work? Maybe we should change it up? The good thing we have done is that we are not afraid to change it. Ultimately we think it works. Like going from the five points each to five points or changing the website or even getting new equipment you develop as you go along. Luckily from my recollection direct feedback from a listener that we have not read out on the podcast was only once and I actually think that says a lot about the community. It is very positive for Gotham. It certainly has settled down now into people that like it and like Derek said you have got a lot of shifting sands with people going I’m out, no this isn’t what I wanted, this isn’t Christopher Nolan, this isn’t Tim Burton or whatever they wanted it to be. This is why I think David Mazouz has been such a catch for the show. One of the big things that has been put on him at the start was “why would you do a pre-Batman look and take of Gotham”, that big questions it wasn’t even a criticism it was just a way of digging at the show to some extent. I think David Mazouz playing the young Bruce Wayne originally maybe wasn’t perceived as playing a big part, he has just let that sail over him. He really has developed an amazing on screen relationship with Alfred which I think is one of the best and now when I watch the Batman films I think back now to these two on Gotham and think that’s why they are so close now, what we see in Gotham and that’s a great credit to David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee.
Would you like to do Podcasting professionally?
John: it would be awesome I would do…oh that’s on Radio 4.
Derek: (to John) you would totally do Radio 4 * laughs* we would like to think it could be something you could do professionally. All the ideas we have and the shows we would like to cover we love to dedicate to podcasting you would not be able to do it with a job. We would absolutely i think give it a go, but getting into podcasting for money is kind of a fools errand. We love what we do as doing it as fans and it allows us the opportunity not to worry what people really think about our podcast because we are doing it for the people who like it and we try and give the listeners what they enjoy listening to and we enjoy making it. If we were to do it for money as well you are trapped into covering every single television show that comes out of DC and Marvel that’s out there I am certain we would find a show that we would hate and I don’t want to be in a situation where we are covering a show we hate because we are getting paid for it that would be awful.
John: all of a sudden all your content has to go and be so much more. We do look to keep our podcast regular so that the listeners know when they are coming out and anticipate them. Sometimes maybe certainly earlier on, maybe fell occasionally just because of life but I think we are in a really good grove of getting them out on the times we say. As soon as you are doing it full time there is an increase in content that you are going to have to do, it could be covering Super Girl, Flash, Green Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow plus Gotham. Then any other DC, the movies in more detail, then having to do video casts, to do the trailer reactions and I think our main bread and butter is Gotham. Conventions where we can cover, we will always cover San Diego Comic Con and any that we will go too but we did a brief coverage of SDCC this year.
Derek: it was brief coverage this year on purpose because we knew we were going to get spoiled about Gotham, as we totally thought the finale of season 3 Gotham would have aired by the time of SDCC but because of delays it hadn’t.
Has anyone come to you for advice in how to set up and present a podcast?
Derek: mmm have they…..a few friends have. We have some friends who own a technical website they were looking to set up a podcast and looking for some inspiration and some advice and realised the work involved they decided against it, maybe we gave bad really advice!
Speaking Hypothetically, you are both attending HVFF London next year the prize on offer for the cosplay competition is a trip to New York, you get to go behind the scenes at Steiner Studios on the set of Gotham. Would you enter?
Derek: absolutely! Yes 100%.
Derek: I would let them choose my cosplay for me as well, because I would not want to get myself in a safe zone for that prize I would dress however they wanted me to cosplay even if it was Tabitha in her leather catsuit. *laughing* I am there.
Claire: I was hoping for that answer *laughing*
John: I would try and be Mr Freeze or Fries, I just don’t have the abs at the moment, So I would definitely wear the suit. I also love The Riddler and a big fan of the character and
Derek: (to John) would you go as Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter?
John: yeah, the Riddler and Jervis Tetch are two of my favourite characters, also Scarecrow as well, certainly now he has the mask that I know of coming up in season 4. I would do all of them each day, I would love to do Cosplay I have never really put my mind to it.
Derek: I love cosplay I love the fact that the people who are cosplaying are putting in so much effort into their look and it can look amazing and it can catch someone in their day job where they wear a suit and at the weekends they look like a character out of a movie.
John: definitely! We were asked to a friends 30th fancy dress party which had the theme of princes, princess or comic book theme..
Derek: I think it was just choose any costume.
John: so we just treated it like Cosplay, I spent hours
Derek: the character John went as Is a character from a cartoon called Futurama.
John: i went as Zapp Brannigan from Futurama and Derek went as Zoidberg the lobster.
Derek: we did cosplay heavily as characters, nobody knew who we were at all! We were in the wrong location and it was genuine queens, princess, pirates all general costumes and we were going as people from Futurama.
John: the worst part about my outfit was it’s like a mini skirt effectively his outfit in the cartoon, as we were walking away at the end of the party there were a group of people going “what are you dressed as?”
I answered “ Zapp Brannigan” as I flirted and lifted my tunic. *laughing*
I would like to thank John and Derek for taking time out their busy schedule and chatting with me for nearly two hours!
From all of us at DC World Congratulations on your 100th episode and we will look forward to listening to the next 100!
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