So I caught the pilot for Gotham last night. I really didn’t see how a TV show about Batman – but NOT actually featuring Batman – could work, but I was pleasantly surprised. If the rest of the episodes are as entertaining as the pilot, we might have a winner on our hands.
For those who don’t know, Gotham takes place roughly 15 years before Batman shows up. Newly-promoted detective Jim Gordon has returned to the city of his childhood, and is partnered with Harvey Bullock – a gruff, possibly corrupt detective who doesn’t like to make waves. Their first big case together is a doozy… the murder of Thomas & Martha Wayne. At the crime scene, Gordon promises young Bruce Wayne that he will find the man responsible and bring him to justice. Unfortunately, in the corrupt city of Gotham, that promise proves difficult.
The show features many of the people who will later plague Gotham as supervillains, but for now they’re just petty criminals or children trying to survive in the concrete jungles of the city. In the pilot, this included Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Edward Nygma (The Riddler), Pamela “Ivy” Isley (Poison Ivy), and an unnamed comedian (The Joker). The show will apparently take us through the beginnings of these characters, perhaps (if it lasts enough seasons) even into their more well-known personas at some point.
— Casting —
The casting was pretty good, especially for a TV show. Most of the characters above didn’t get much screen time (except for Cobblepot), but the actors managed to portray them well. In most cases, we see behavior and mannerisms that the villains are known for later in life. For example, Nygma already displays immense curiosity and a passion for riddles. Selina Kyle already likes to slink around in the shadows and has a thing for cats. Pamela Isley is already a somber and quiet girl. And so forth.
Show lead Ben McKenzie portrays Jim Gordon with all the zeal and conflict you’d expect. Gordon is an honest man living in a dishonest world, and this conflict is portrayed well. Donal Logue, who sci-fi fans will recognize from Blade, plays Bullock in such a way that you don’t know if he’s really corrupt or just a guy trying to get by. Bullock always leaned towards the “bad cop” side of the fence, but when it came down to the wire he was ultimately a good guy. We’ll see if the show sticks with that or not.
Other characters were played pretty well. Will Smith’s wife Jada plays “Fish” Mooney like a woman who knows she isn’t the biggest fish in the pond, but she’s definitely the biggest one in HER part of the pond. David Mazouz did an excellent job of portraying a somber Bruce Wayne – a boy who just had to grow up years ahead of his time within the space of a week (the timeframe of the pilot).
— Overall —
So, overall, I really enjoyed the pilot despite myself. I had expected to just kill an hour while eating supper, and then maybe later blogging about how horrible it was. Instead I found another show to look forward to throughout the upcoming months. Now I can add Gotham to my Hulu favorites list along with Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of SHIELD.
If you like Batman, try watching the pilot and see what you think. You might be surprised like I was.