If you had told me one year ago that Fox was panning to release a TV crime drama set in Gotham City, I would have been completely overjoyed. I’ve always kinda thought that transitioning to TV might be a better idea for those grittier, more down-to-earth superheroes that don’t necessarily have the flashy godlike powers (Smallville notwithstanding). And as much as I don’t hate the idea of Ben Affleck donning the cape and cowl (Even if the rest of the DC cinematic universe is starting to look like a giant clusterfuck) I would love to see a Batman TV show.
Take away Batman from the equation though, and I would’ve been less than enthused.
Indeed, Gotham chooses to focus not on Bruce Wayne (Played by child actor David Mazouz) and his transformation into everyone’s favourite rich nutjob, but on the exploits of Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, former star of The O.C. and, actually a former Batman voice actor. He voiced the Dark Knight in the animated movie, Batman: Year One) and his troubled partner, Harvey Bullock (Irish-Canadian actor Donal Logue). How did the pilot episode of this risky venture prove?
Absolutely brilliant is how it turned out.
Don’t get me wrong though, Gotham has problems, and I’ll get them out of the way first so I can gush later. My only real qualms with the movie have to do with the characters, not that the actors are to blame. I think they all do very great jobs, especially newcomer Robin Lord-Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, Jada Pinkett-Smith as original villain Fish Mooney, Cory Michael Smith’s brief cameo as Edward Nygma and the two leads, McKenzie and Logue. Problem is, the show seems a bit over-preoccupied with stuffing as many villains into it as possible in order to give super-nerds like me a hard-on. I guess it kind of makes sense this one time, given that it was the pilot episode, and they had to stuff in as much fan service as possible in order to convince Fox that they could attract an audience. In that respect, it makes sense, but I hope that they can segway into villain introductions a little better than their introduction of the man who will eventually grow up to be a Tim Burton- directed abomination.
SCENE: A group of thugs are viciously beating up on a fellow criminal. The most violent aggressor is a younger man, brandishing an umbrella while wearing a tuxedo
ANONYMOUS THUG: Take it easy (Practically turns to audience) Penguin! (Practically winks at the goddamn audience)
PENGUIN: Don’t call me that!!!
Huh, they took lessons from the James Cameron school of subtlety, I see.
Also, I love how Detectives Montoya and Allen go ahead and take Cobblepot at his word when he tells them that Gordon and Bullock framed and murdered Mario Pepper, and immediately report their suspicions to Barbara and threaten Gordon without a shred of evidence. I thought these guys were supposed to be real hotshots. What the hell?
Overall, though, my favourite thing about the show is that it feels like a comic book set in Gotham City ,especially something like Batman: Year One (Again, minus Batman). It has a very dark atmosphere, and doesn’t hesitate to bust out the blood (Unlike the great Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan movies, who had to maintain a PG rating). The scene where Bruce’s parents are murdered (Spoiler alert, in case you’ve been living under a rock) is as emotionally resonant as it’s ever been, the writing is, while not exactly Shakespeare, very fitting to the tone, and really, I can’t wait for the next episode.
Episode Rating: 4/5