And so it begins—the first of an obnoxious amount of write-ups about premiere episodes. Seriously, you’ll just have to resign yourself to seeing at least a couple of these a week on my blog for the next month or so. But I’m sure glad this one was first on this list because I was extremely curious about it. Have you been curious, too? Well then let me share a few of the particulars of Fox’s new crime drama, Gotham.
What I liked:
- The premise. I really, really liked this idea when I heard about it, and seeing it was not a letdown. This is pre-Batman Gotham City, and it’s a complicated, lethal place. I love exploring the storylines of characters from Batman’s world—seeing how they got their starts and became who they are. Speaking of the characters…
- The good guys. Ben McKenzie anchors the story well as leading man Jim Gordon, one of the few good cops in a corrupt city. Donal Logue is just what I hoped he’d be as his partner, Harvey Bullock, a cop with questionable motives who is constantly sipping from a flask—maybe not the embodiment of “good,” but he clearly has Jim’s back. As young Bruce Wayne, David Mazouz paints a pretty clear picture of the solemn, dedicated vigilante he will one day become, and Sean Pertwee has the perfect amount of sternness and sass as his butler/guardian, Alfred Pennyworth.
- The “bad” guys. I say “bad” because some of the characters either walk the line between good and bad or they haven’t revealed their true nature yet. Like Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), who currently works as an analyst for the GCPD, but hints at his future persona with his penchant for riddles. Then there’s young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), whose fluid movements through Gotham, talent for pick-pocketing, and pet cat all but spell out her future. And poor Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor)—he’s already acquired the nickname “Penguin” with his big nose and waddling gait. Throw in crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and mysterious yet kick-ass Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and it’s clear that the GCPD is going to keep very busy this season.
- The look of Gotham City. The dark, looming buildings, the moody lighting, and even the gargoyles all make the setting pretty perfect. The city has so much personality that it becomes a character in and of itself.
- The tone. It’s not as heavy as Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, but it’s definitely not the campy Batman series of the ‘60s either. It’s dark, yet also a little cheesy and melodramatic. Normally, that would be a bad thing. In this case, I think it provides just the balance the show needs to be really enjoyable and easy to watch.
- The quick pace. Again, normally I wouldn’t like that for a premiere—I prefer taking the time to get to know the characters. But many of us already know these characters. It’s fun to be able to dive right in, jumping from action to action and awaiting the next reference to the world of Batman with geeky anticipation.
What I didn’t like:
- At one point, there’s a random moment that suggests a former friendship between Jim’s fiancée, Barbara (Erin Richards) and another police officer, Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena). I don’t totally understand what’s going on there, and I’m sure it will be explored more in future episodes, but it’s a little frustrating to have a vague hint of something that contributes almost nothing to the episode.
- I was glad to see Falcone introduced in this episode, but his motives are a little fuzzy to me. Again, I’m sure this will become clear as the season progresses, but I don’t quite understand some of his decisions in this episode.
- Jim burdens young Bruce with some heavy news, and this seems kind of out of character and even a little pointless. The kid’s already lost his parents—would nice guy Jim really want to make him feel worse?
- At the beginning of the episode, Harvey appears to dislike Jim, yet by the end of the episode he makes a point to say he likes him. He changes his mind about Jim without much of an explanation. I know their partnership is bound to have its ups and downs throughout the season, but c’mon—a man like Harvey wouldn’t end up liking a stubborn good guy like Jim over the course of one episode. How about a little more turmoil, a little more evolution in the relationship before we get there, huh?
The Potential: I think Gotham has oodles of it. I really like the pieces this premiere puts in place, and given how vast and complex the world of Batman is, the sky truly is the limit. I know cop dramas a dime a dozen lately, but Gotham is something different. It’s a cop drama, yes, but it’s also a comic book world come to life, seen primarily through the lens of less prominent but equally interesting characters. If Gotham keeps building on what it’s already established, it’s going to have a great run.
My Grade: A-
P.S. Am I a ridiculous person since this cracks me up every time: