Jim Gordon, the commissioner of a police department so completely corrupt when he inherited it that he's had attempts on his life by his own people, will be the lead character in Gotham, Fox's Batman show without Batman that's been ordered straight to series and expected to debut next fall. But who could play Jim Gordon? It's a conversation that people have been having on a small scale for a while now, since the addition of Batman to the Man of Steel sequel suggests the possibility of Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth or other of Batman's supporting players coming in as well, at least for a cameo. (And, yes, even glorified cameos got pretty great casting in Man of Steel--just ask Perry White.) The problem is that it's a difficult question when this TV show is involved. Gordon, after all, is just a detective here and all signs point to a pretty by-the-numbers police procedural in many ways. That means he'll likely be a younger guy who has romantic tension with his partner and/or another person on the force, rather than the middle-aged-or-older cop we've come to know from the Batman '66 TV series, the movies and of course the comic book source material. But he can't be too too young--presumably, this series will have to allow for some recognizable faces to turn up on the set, even if Batman is off the table. And if you make Gordon too young and/or set the show too far back in the past, it makes things difficult. Can they reference Bruce Wayne being in the news if Barbara Gordon isn't even born yet? Can the Flying Graysons pass through town in the circus if Bruce is so young his parents haven't been killed yet? It's a balancing act to make Gotham feel familiar without screwing up your whole timeline. And let's just get this out of the way up front: there's basically zero chance that this series will cross over with The Flash (The CW), Arrow (The CW) or Constantine (NBC)--or with the movies, which are wholly owned by Warner Bros. at this point. Warner and Fox have had enough rights problems over the years with Batman '66. I'm certain they're not looking to go create more. So we made up a list of potential Detective Gordons, and why we think they'd be great--if it turns out they're age-appropriate for the gig.
Tim Omundson Fresh off an eight-season run (that's expected to end in 2014) on Psych in which he played a clean-cut, by-the-books detective who had some personal failings (the pilot saw him having an affair with his partner and then in recent seasons he married a woman he had arrested), Omundson seems on paper like a perfect guy to make the jump from basic cable to network TV and continue on as the Only Sane Man in a city full of madness. If there's a downside to him, it's that he comes from a comedy background; it's the drama stuff, and the bad-ass stuff in Psych that asks him to stretch his comfort zone and that, of course, is all he would be doing in a the role of James Gordon. Still, Psych also showed that while he had to stretch for it, he was able to pull it off time and time again without fail. Would Omundson do it? And even if he would, how difficult would it be to get a network to take the possibility seriously? Hard to say, on both counts...
Bryan Cranston There are a lot of moving pieces here, and this one would almost certainly not happen. While he certainly doesn't look as old in real life as he did while playing Heisenberg, Cranston is almost certainly older than they want to go for a "young" Gordon. That said, fans want him for this role; fans want him for this role so much that when he was rumored to be taking the Lex Luthor role, every article we wrote had at least one person in the comments thread saying that he can't be Lex, or else he couldn't be Gordon. That's in the movies, though, and there's the rub: after more than a decade of being on your TV every week (or, you know, every week during the season...which were pretty short with Breaking Bad...), it's entirely likely that Cranston will have both the desire and the profile to take a break from that grind and do a few feature films. After all, it wasn't long ago that he was rumored to be Lex Luthor in a Batman vs. Superman movie. Do you really think he's not going to at least explore the options available to him as a prospective A-list movie star? Even if there wasn't truth to the Luthor rumor before it went all over the Internet, the fact that Breaking Bad is the biggest entertainment story of the fall and Cranston starred in Ben Affleck's last movie should be enough to get him in the door for that meeting.
Neil Patrick Harris Again, he's got a show that's currently on the air--and that won't be in the very near future. He's old enough to have some experience behind him but he's got that baby face that will keep him young in the eyes of the viewer--especially compared to previous iterations of Gordon--and he's one of the great performers on TV today. Besides that, his time with Joss Whedon has built him up a rep with the hardcore fanboy audience. The thing about him ,too, is that he's got a hell of a range. He can do dramatic work, but his comedy is his bread and butter. Maybe he wouldn't be perfect for Gordon because he's got the tendency to go too comedic, but certainly a show set in the fairly dour world of Gotham City will need a Nathan Fillion-type leading man who can toggle between taking things seriously and not.
Jason Ritter Here's another guy who has a bit of the young Gary Oldman vibe, although what carries over with Ritter is more a sense of wry humor and a kind of unkempt nature than anything else. There's a place for those in Gordon but, as hinted above, they can't be his defining characteristics, even at a young age. That said, he's one of those guys that NBC seems to have a lot of faith in; they've given him key roles in shows like The Event and Parenthood and sooner or later, he's either going to break for them or they're going to totally lose interest. If Fox could steal him away, the move (combined with all the feature work he's doing right now, even if they're small roles) would help raise his stock and the buzz around him before the premiere considerably.
Seth Gabel The Fringe and Arrow star fits in nicely with genre fare, as you can tell--but would he be able to take on another DC Universe role while there's still a chance he might return to Arrow? Probably so; this is a whole different timeline and likely a different continuity, after all. But he's got the intensity to carry it off, certainly, and he's got what it takes to be a leading man...it's just a question of giving him a chance to headline a show that stays on the air.