Normally, I would do a One Line Review of a new television series. However, this isn’t normal, this is Gotham. We’ve been waiting for the premiere for quite some time so, I thought the series premiere deserved something more than one of our famous One Line Reviews.
The Fox network had touted Gotham more of a series about Batman before Batman. It was a good sales hook to get comic book fans, fans who hadn’t read a comic book in years, and fans of the movies interested in the show. However, as the premiere drew closer more promo ads appeared calling Gotham James Gordon’s origin story. It’s this premise that makes Gotham work more than a series about a pre-Gotham City Batman.
Ben McKenzie, as James Gordon, pulls off the cop trying to do good in a bad place without being sanctimonious. It’s not a forced performance. He doesn’t go overboard with a “holier than thou” attitude. It’s played more as someone who knows the difference between right and wrong; a person who doesn’t see too much grey in the world. We genuinely believe McKenzie as the driven, young cop who doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, how bad Gotham City has become. His naiveté is apparent in the opening scene after Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) wishes him good luck on catching whoever killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. The look on Mackenzie’s face tells us that there’s going to be a rough road ahead for Gordon.
From there we see how corrupt Gotham is through the characters that surround Gordon. Showrunner Bruno Heller (Rome, The Mentalist) did a spectacular job casting the other actors. Donal Logue ( Blade, Grounded for Life) is at the top of his game playing Harvey Bullock. Bullock isn’t necessarily a corrupt cop. He’s more of a cop that has been around long enough to know what to do in order to go home at the end of every shift. Logue plays him with an attitude to match. Jada Pinkett Smith (Matrix Revolutions) was a true surprise as Gotham underworld boss Fish Mooney. However, it’s a safe bet to say Robin Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot will be the break-out, fan favorite of the show.
As I said in my original Gotham article ( read here ), I’m not too hung up on continuity when it comes to comic books being turned into movies or television series. All I ask is it be faithful, at least in spirit, to the source material. Gotham, based solely on the first episode, is keeping faithful to the spirit of the Batman mythos; right down to the scene of young Bruce kneeling between his dead parents ( Sorry, if after all the years Batman has been in existence you didn’t know his parents died).
Gotham is just as gritty as the movies or the comic books that inspired it. Is it as dark or as gritty as The Dark Knight Returns? No, but it’s gritty enough for network television and has the has the potential to be one of the tensest police dramas on television.
However, it remains to be seen if my original worry that the series will turn into a romance between young Bruce Wayne and tween Selina Kyle will come to fruition. There meeting is inevitable given the facts that they are the only two teen-ish characters (I promised no spoilers) and that Kyle saw something she shouldn’t have seen (remember this is a spoiler free review). What really remains to be seen is how the creators choose to develop their first meeting. Here’s hoping they don’t go down the CW road and lose the gritty cop angle they have started in the first episode.
Gotham is one of the best season premieres in a long time and is bound to please whether you’re a fan of Batman or police procedural. We can’t wait for what the rest of the series has in store.