Gotham “Pilot Episode” ReviewSeptember 24, 2014
RIP Thomas and Martha Wayne… again.
When it was announced, I was less excited about Gotham and more curious as to ‘why’? Why would they find the need for a show that, essentially, takes Batmans entirely out of the picture? We are left with a young Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle running around instead. To me it seemed like a recipe for a quick cancellation; something that would intrigue but ultimately fail based on who it’s keeping off the board in the long run. Now that Gotham has premiered and I can legitimately render some kind of verdict (based only of course on seeing the first episode); the short answer is that Gotham far surpassed my expectations, with some minor qualms. Not bad right? Now for the long answer…
Much like any Batman origin film, the heart and center of any Gotham story is going to spiral out of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, in which the murder becomes a driving force for rookie straight arrow detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie of The O.C.). McKenzie managed to put aside my concerns that he might not be able to carry off the role of Gordon but that he fits into the role quite well, all in one episode (despite having to live up to the high expectations that Gary Oldman may have left us with).
The real standout for me was Donal Logue (Terriers, Sons of Anarchy) as Harvey Bullock who is playing both sides of the law; he comes off with this great swagger and just becomes the role. The other unexpected surprise for me was Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot who is at the center of this first episode (and, according to producers, the first Gotham season will see his slow rise into power). Cobblepot is already showing his manipulative side, working his way up through the crime syndicate; in order to do so successfully, he has to go through Jada Pinkett Smith who plays Fish Mooney, a lieutenant of Carmine Falcone. I didn’t expect much from Smith in the role of playing an organized crime lieutenant since she doesn’t have much of a resume for playing menacing characters, but she really shone in her role, looking dangerous and not out place in the world she is occupying.
The supporting cast around the main characters I can’t wait to see more of, especially Sean Pertwee as the absolutely no nonsense Alfred Pennyworth. Instead of just seeing her run around, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, I’d like to actually see Camren Bicondova interact with the characters in the show and see what personality she is bringing to Selina Kyle. David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne) is merely just there to react to his parents death along with Alfred in tow, so it will be interesting to see how Bruno Heller and his team unravel these characters over the sixteen episode first season.
The episode left a lot of room to move for the series and unpredictability is what you want in a first episode. The series takes a very Nolan-esque route in keeping the mood dark and follows that grim vision of what Gotham should be and look like. Some of the wide shots of the city reflect that as well, with it looking very dirty, dark, and horrible; definitely not a vacation spot. Time-wise it’s hard to pin down when this exactly is set, but I didn’t see much in the way of computers and most of the characters were using flip phones so it would be easy to surmise that it’s being set in the early part of the 2000s or the late 90s.
The upside here is that the writers and actors are being placed in a large sandbox of a TV series where they could go anywhere from here, playing in the Batman mythology and could create origins for nearly any of Batman’s rogues gallery or any of his allies as well. With Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin) Ivy Pepper (a retconned Poison Ivy, still no good reason as to not use her comic book name of Pamela Isley…) and Edward Nygma (Riddler) already in place on the show, those major characters alone could prove to have some large story arcs as to how they became who they are. The chemistry between the two leads in McKenzie and Logue will help those who aren’t comic savvy latch onto this show simply as a police drama. Comic book fans will obviously want to watch it for the easter eggs that are dropped throughout.
The one character I would really like to see myself make an appearance somewhere along the shows run would be a younger Dr. Victor Fries (Mister Freeze); the writers could have all kinds of fun with that stone faced scientist.
The bottom line here is that Gotham made an excellent first impression with lots of ambition, delving into the world of Gotham without Batman, and really has nowhere to go but up from here. Check out Gotham Mondays on FOX at 9PM.
Let us know in the comments which Batman villain you would like to see Gotham introduce, as well as what you thought of the premiere episode!