Gotham City is as notorious as the villains that populate its streets, but just as famous if not more so is its hero. Batman. However Fox’s latest series traded the cape and cowl for a badge. Gotham focuses on a young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) navigating his way through the infamous city and interacting with Batman’s rouges gallery to be. Characters like: Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), Edward Nigma (Cory Michael Smith), Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), and Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley) will get origin stories, but more importantly as they take on their monikers, we will see the fall of Gotham. Before we get ahead of ourselves let’s look at the pilot.
The episode more or less gives us the story we’re all familiar with, the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Just check out Vulture’s latest video. Despite seeing this story played out several times on TV and film there’s something different this time around. Time. We’re as powerless as Bruce (David Mazouz) is right now, and we’ll have to endure this traumatic experience until they see fit to suit him up. With each episode we’ll not only relate to him, but see the friendship form between Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne.
Another moment that reveals just how much promise this series offers can be found on the docks. Donal Logue’s performance as Bullock is fantastic in this scene. Callused but not cold, his “tough love” is done out of concern for Gordon, personally I hope they remove the comic relief element from his character. Gordon is given gravitas as he walks a groveling Penguin off dock. Robin Lord Taylor steals the show as the Penguin ranging from an inexperienced thug, to a coward, and ruthless killer. They make him so sympathetic – unlike his comic book counterpart – but you actually feel for the guy.
The episode ends with Gordon confessing to Bruce that he didn’t catch the real killer, and asks for a second chance, which is in line with the character’s moral code. We get a glimpse of Batman’s scowl when Bruce admits his relief that killer is out and hopes to see him again. The rage is palpable in that moment. Unfortunately Sean Pertwee doesn’t get to do much in this episode, but his take on the character is reminiscent of Scott Snyder’s take on the butler in Batman: Zero Year, which seems fitting. It also suggests The Dark Knight (if he makes an appearance in this series) would be a harder version of the character. I have my fingers crossed that the Red Hood gang will make an appearance on the series who are also featured in Snyder’s Zero Year arc.
Over all the episode does a good job weaving the characters (heroes and villains alike) into Gordon’s path, but the most important character of all is the city itself. Fox has definitely created a Gotham all its own; however, the stylized set pieces seem to borrow heavily from Tim Burton’s Batman. Even the dated technology tube TVs and monitors, flip phones, and even the bottle of aspirin would feel at home in the classic Batman film. Although there is unity to the world they’ve constructed, it still looks disjointed.
Gotham is an interesting experiment, considering its hero is absent from the picture (at least for now). Executive Producer Arrow and The Flash Greg Berlanti said TV could do more than films could for superheroes stories. Or in this case lack there of… but I completely agree especially when it comes to this series.
Gotham returns Monday September 29, 2014 on Fox with episode two “Selina Kyle”
Tell us in the comments below what you thought of the first episode of Gotham?