I think it’s safe to say that Fox’s Gotham was the most highly anticipated show of the new television season. Yes, I am aware that Flash is coming from the CW, and Constantine will get some attention from the Supernatural set. All of these things are true and I will be witching both of those shows as well, but with Gotham we’re talking about Batman lore told from a perspective before the Dark Knight existed. When I learned that Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) was producing, and that big names such as Howard Chaykin, Archie Goodwin, Greg Rucka and even Frank Miller would be writing for the show my enthusiasm turned to outright glee!
This shows’ focal character is not Bruce Wayne, although he is in it, played by David Mazouz (Touch, Drop Dead Diva). The future Caped Crusader is just a boy in this show which begins immediately after the deaths of his parents. Harvey Bullock, expertly played by Donal Logue (Vikings, Sons of Anarchy), catches the case with his new, unwanted partner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Gordon is a straight-laced, by-the-book type of cop in a city full of corruption, where nothing gets done if the real people in power don’t allow it. It becomes evident that there is more to the Wayne murders than just the random violence that is all too common in Gotham City. The good cop, bad cop relationship between the two is a bit cliché but Logue and McKenzie play their parts to perfection. Victoria Cartagena and Andrew Stewart-Jones play major crimes detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen. They are the not so friendly rivals of Bullock and Gordon. Sean Pertwee (Elementary) rounds out the main roster of “good guys” in this dark drama. He plays a much different Alfred Pennyworth than we’re used to. He comes off as a highly trained bad-ass more so than the humble but capable manservant, which explains how easily he slides into his role as Batman’s right hand man.
The villains are plentiful in Gotham. At the forefront are rival bosses Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett-Smith). Falcone is the typical gangster type who is uses over-the top violence to make a point but had a strict code of ethics. Mooney is more of a mercenary, information peddler with no such code of conduct. You will also notice several familiar names, in the background of the show, who will surely step to the forefront as the series progresses. Names like Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) the riddle spewing forensics expert who will one day become the Riddler, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor) who despises being called The Penguin, and even a young girl named Ivy (Clare Foley) whose healthy dislike of cops is only surpassed by her green thumb. There is even a short scene in which Fish Mooney is auditioning a comedian, played by Jon Beavers, who seems to have an odd grin while witnessing her beating Mr. Cobblepot for his betrayal. Could he be the man who would become the Joker, or just a clever ruse? Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) also makes several appearances throughout the show. Of all of the characters it was this one that seemed a bit out-of-place. She appears to be much older than Bruce, but maybe boys just develop later than girls. The final character that I want to point out here is the city of Gotham itself. Largely filmed in Manhattan, the city looks pretty good. It is dark and grim and has the right feel. I did enjoy one very subtle change as the police force is referred to as the GCPD like it was in the comics, instead of GPD as it was referred to in the Christopher Nolan trilogy of movies. In the comics Gotham is a character in and of itself, and I really hope that the writers continue to think of it that way. The show is called Gotham after all, and the corruption of the city his father loved so much was one of the major reasons he became Batman.
The story was not as good as I expected. I know it’s just the first episode but it seemed that the pace was too fast, and the setting was just confusing. A huge amount of information was stuffed into the first hour making it feel very frantic. What disappointed me the most though was the setting itself. I was thoroughly confused by the time period. The characters dress as if they are from the 1950’s, the cars appear to be from the 1970’s, but they have cellular phones, and forensics science seemingly from the 1990s at the very earliest. Someone please tell me which decade we are supposed to be in. While the police investigation parts were pretty good the whole framing of Mario Pepper, for the Wayne murders, seemed very clumsy and forced. I also didn’t understand some other plot points that were included. First, why would they have a young Selina Kyle (Catwoman) witness the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne? It is a fairly odd and unnecessary way to have young Bruce get Selina’s attention, but there may be more to it in the future. Second, why is Renee Montoya being connected to Barbara Kean intimately? James Gordon’s future first wife had an apparent affair with a female cop? Why? Montoya questions Kean, “Does he know you…like I know you?” Obviously not! I really expected better from the creators of this show. The plot and writing seemed all too clumsy, frantic and forced. It’s early in the series and I’m really hoping for better things to come. After all, I was greatly disappointed in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD for the first half of its initial season, but during the second half the show writers found their stride and everything after Captain America: The Winter Soldier was brilliant. I still have high hopes for Gotham and I will continue to tune in on Monday nights at 8pm Eastern time on Fox.
OVERALL RATING: C+