That’s right, kids—we’re discussing TWO premieres today. Because I’m crazy like that! Or, you know, just because a loooot of premieres are rolling out over the next month or so, and I need to cram a few of them together. And I am all too thrilled today to discuss a couple of really solid premieres. On Saturday, we hopped back into the TARDIS and began the ninth season of the BBC’s Doctor Who while on Monday, we returned to Gotham on Fox for a second, villain-packed season. Spoiler alert: I’m very happy with the premieres of both of these shows.
What I liked:
- Seeing a more lighthearted side of the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi). In fact, he even lets all twelve sides of himself out for a bit of fun. “It’s my party, and all of me’s invited,” he says. Great line, by the way. I love seeing the Twelfth Doctor have a good time, especially since he was such a grump last season.
- The prominence of Missy (Michelle Gomez). I liked Missy last season, but I think I officially love her after this episode. Her sass is out of control in the best possible way. Also, the relationship between Missy and the Doctor is explored a little, helping us to understand the complexity of it. Ultimately, they’re kind of frenemies, but even that term doesn’t quite do them justice. They’ve known each other over 1,000 years, and they are among the last of their kind (sort of). So yeah. It’s complicated.
- Clara’s (Jenna Coleman) important status as go-to person on all things Doctor. When a crisis is apparent, the British government (U.N.I.T.?) immediately sends for her, and she is hardcore on the job. Clara is still not my favorite companion ever, but I can’t help admiring her coolness in this episode.
- The reintroduction of an important Doctor Who villain. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but it’s a character that has long been a nemesis of the Doctor, yet we actually haven’t seen this individual for quite a while. I think what Steven Moffat and co. does with the character is pretty awesome.
- That devastating but awesome cliffhanger. A lot happens at once, and it’ll leave you aching to see more.
What I didn’t like:
- The breakneck pace of the opening. I’m used to kind of jumping into the craziness that is Doctor Who, but even so there were a few minutes of adjustment to get back into the mindset. And for the uninitiated, it would be pretty much impossible to jump in.
- The monsters at the beginning that are kind of a rip-off of Pan’s Labyrinth. Okay, so that’s a very minor thing, but come on. For any of you who have seen/are going to see this episode, just try to tell me those buggers sticking out of the sand didn’t make you think of the Pale Man.
- THAT ENDING. Okay, I know I said it was a good thing. Really, it is. It’s just painful to watch that and then have to wait another week to find out what happens. But whatever. I’m not bitter.
The Potential: The potential for Doctor Who is always there, but this seems like a much, much more confident start than last season. We know this Doctor and understand what kind of person he is, we know his relationship with Clara, we get to explore his relationship with Missy, and we’re thrust right into a new adventure with an old, classic villain. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and I can’t wait for more.
My Grade: A
What I liked:
- Poor Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is already in deep. He goes through a lot in this episode, and he ends up in a situation that is both good and really, really bad. I think his actions are going to have a long-lasting toll on him this season, but it will definitely keep things interesting.
- The glimpses of the new crew at Arkham Asylum. It’s a delightfully crazy bunch, and I think the season is going to be all the more interesting because of them. My personal favorite addition to the Arkham gang is Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) a.k.a. the future Joker. He’s got the personality (and, more importantly, the laugh) down pat, and he’s a joy to see. Also, I’m kind of surprised to admit it, but Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) grew on me in this episode. A lot. She’s much more interested now that she’s completely coo coo. I think she and Jerome are going to be quite a pair.
- New villain Theo Galavan’s (James Frain) mission for a few of Arkham’s special inmates. Galavan is clearly going to be a big troublemaker this season, and he’s pulling in Jerome, Barbara, and a few others for his shenanigans. It’s gonna be great.
- A more-confident-than-ever Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor). Penguin was clearly the villain of last season, and watching his rise to power was a lot of fun. Now that he’s large and in charge, it’s fun to think about where things will go—especially if they introduce new villains and/or bring back old ones to vie for power.
- Young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) exploring the future Batcave. I know it’s been said that little Bruce won’t actually become Batman until basically the end of the series (which I’m cool with because I think the focus should be on the other Batman characters), but it’s still fun to watch his journey to becoming the Caped Crusader with faithful, sassy Alfred (Sean Pertwee).
What I didn’t like:
- The all-too-brief glimpse of the newly nutso Nigma (Cory Michael Smith). I mean, Nigma has always been a weirdo, but what he did at the end of last season broke something in him, and you can tell even from a brief scene that he’s nuttier than ever. I just want more! Speaking of…
- We need more Selina (Camren Bicondova)! Little Catwoman appears to have become something of a pet for Penguin, and that makes me sad. Where’s the sass?! I’m sure we’ll see it, but I’m just impatient and wanted more of her in this episode.
- The Gordon/Bullock (Donal Logue) dream team has been separated, and I miss it. I’m 99.9 percent confident that the duo will get back together (and probably sooner rather than later), but, again, I am impatient.
The Potential: I thought this was just as strong a start—perhaps an even a stronger start—than last season. Jim is as solid and likable a character as ever, the villains are clearly going to be the stars of the season, and it’s always a pleasure to see what little Bruce is up to. Gotham has a lot of cool things going for it right now. I just hope they introduce another reliable good guy to help out Jim. He’s clearly going to have his hands full…
My Grade: A-