Gotham fans are both celebrating and mourning the recent news that the show was renewed for its fifth and final season, which is set to hit Fox in 2019. But guess what? Its creator Bruno Heller has already lined up his next DC Comics series with Pennyworth, which will be another prequelized trip back into the Batman mythos' past centered on the Waynes' iconic butler. The action-packed new project was ordered straight-to-series at the MGM-owned cable network Epix.
Before anyone starts thinking that the Gotham-verse is getting extended in any way, Pennyworth is a complete departure from that project, and Sean Pertwee isn't poised to be involved. That's at least an understandable shame, since Pennyworth will go even farther back into the past, the 1960s, to focus on Alfred in the years after he was a British SAS soldier. Viewers will see how he formed a secret company and started up his professional relationship with Thomas Wayne. Casting hasn't yet begun for the central roles, but given this will be the youngest of the Alfreds to make it to live-action, we shouldn't expect to find any repeat performers in the role.
Pennyworth's Gotham connections don't end with Bruno Heller, who is writing the initial script. According to THR, he'll once again be executive producing alongside Gotham's Danny Cannon, who will direct the first Pennyworth installment, and Warner Bros. TV will be putting it all together. It'll be interesting to see if any other Gotham vets join this new series, since that will be a good early litmus test to judge how increasingly insane the plots are going to be. We don't expect there to be any Joker-related debates, in any case.
Comic book heroes are always ripe for origin stories, even if they don't have superpowers, and Alfred is one of the most well known DC characters who never gets in the spotlight. Assuming they get the right actor and the right tone, this could present an interesting spin on both spy and comic dramas. (And I'm also curious how it will compare to DC Universe's upcoming Metropolis prequel.)
Epix continues to make a name for itself in the clogged world of original TV programming, having earned itself awards recognition with Nick Nolte's Graves. It's got Forest Whitaker's crime drama Godfather of Harlem, Patrick Dempsey's miniseries The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, and Meg Ryan's in-development half-hour comedy Picture Perfect, and a big comic book drama is only going to boost the channel's awareness level.
There's no word on when Pennyworth might make its way to Epix, but if the production values are as high as I'd think, we can probably expect it to surface in the early part of 2019. For a look at what'll come up in primetime before then, head to our summer premiere schedule.