After all of the anticipation and the hype Gotham finally makes it’s debut and when it’s good it’s really good! There are those that feel that a show about a city made famous by the Dark Knight but does’t star the man himself won’t be worth watching. Well, that depends on how you look at Gotham itself. It’s a city with a lot of moving parts and secrets. The criminal element wasn’t always held at bay by superheroes but by the Gotham Police Dept. And as corrupt as it may be, Jim Gordon is that shining light that one can argue was the city’s first champion.
Soon into the beginning of the episode we’re introduced to a young Selina Kyle doing what she does best. Though it quickly shifts to an all too familiar scene as Thomas and Martha Wayne’s last moments are witnessed by their son Bruce. This is a scene even the most casual of Batman fans have seen time and again but David Mazouz brings a chilling portrayal as young Bruce Wayne in that scene. From here the whirlwind of character introductions take place as Jim Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie) and Harvey Bullok (Donal Logue) are on the case.
At times it seems as if they tried to cram everyone into this one episode. Though some are to be expected like seeing Alfred who is played by Sean Pertwee. Other introductions are pretty quick as we only see Edward Nygma (Cory Smith) for a moment but he’s already speaking in riddles so it’s a bit on the nose. Ivy might as well have been wearing a sign saying “I’m Poison Ivy” as it was a bit too much in your face in regards to who she will turn out to be. This was done with Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor) as well. However, the introduction and the connection to his future moniker wasn’t as forced on you. This could possibly be because his character was allowed a lot more exposure as we get to see how he is operating under the thumb or aluminum bat of Fish Mooney. Watching his rise over time should prove one of the more interesting subplots of Gotham.
Now, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) was the character on everyone’s radar being that she was the only new villain introduced. New as in the fact that her character hasn’t appeared in the comics and was developed for this television series. This is a great thing because it allows a wild card to be thrown into the mix along with Jada making “Fish” what she wants her to be. There’s no fanboy expectations to live up to nor decades of comic history to fall back on so we get something new. And for the record she is scary as Mooney. We only get a couple of those moments in the pilot but when they happen they’re believable and leave you wanting a lot more screen time. She can keep pace with some of toughest gangsters and mob bosses in Gotham and that is established quite well here.
The bulk of the show is carried by Gordon and Bullock and so far the chemistry between McKenzie and Logue is pretty good. McKenzie gives you a Jim Gordon to root for and you believe in the guy and want him to clean up the streets. When he makes the promise to Bruce to find his parent’s killer you believe it. Give him a trench coat, mustache, glasses, and 2 week old stubble and he IS Jim Gordon in 20 years! You also probably couldn’t ask for a better Harvey Bullock from Logue and he plays the dirty cop fairly well. He’s just as comfortable mingling with the criminals as he is attempting to uphold the law which seems to be a grey area with him as he’s not afraid to compromise his ethics at times.
The plot of the show was pretty thin and could be seen a mile away from anyone who has seen even one late night cop drama in the last few decades. Except for who saves Gordon and Bullock. I didn’t see that one coming at all. However, what saves it is everything else surrounding the investigation and the start of the character building. Now, that may be a good thing or not because you want the plot to actually matter as well as the characters involved in the story. Though you can’t judge an entire series on just the pilot lets hope that it finds what it wants to do and doesn’t rely too heavy on the history of these characters to save it.
For you keen eyed fans there are several nods to certain elements from the comics and even (at least to me) one from Batman Returns. Now, those watching should understand that Gotham is about Jim Gordon and the city’s criminal underworld. You’re going to get mob bosses and street level crime so don’t expect the capes and cowls. There will be elements from the Batman mythos thrown in but if you’re looking for a Batman centric story then there’s plenty of those already out there. Gotham is worth checking out for a few episodes to see if it’s for you or not but so far DC/Warner Bros. has been on fire since bringing their characters to television and here’s hoping that this is another must see series!