Allow me to articulate, in a completely professional fashion, my feelings on this superb new FOX series.
OH MY GOD…GOTHAM WAS SO FREAKIN’ AWESOME…OH MY GOD…SOMEONE SLAP ME!
It looks like my geek side is overriding my journalistic integrity today, causing me to spaz out regarding how much I loved last week’s series premiere! To sum up, this is how superhero TV is done the right way! Obviously this concept isn’t exactly unique, as right now the sheer volume of shows centering on this particular subject matter is boarding on oversaturation. Luckily, there comes a respite in the storm, as Gotham simply blew me away. It checked just about every box on my list, almost as if the producers were cheating and reading over my shoulder!
First, let’s take a look at what the show did so well in its debut.
As soon as the intro faded to black and the beautiful skyline of the neon-lit cityscape came into view, I instantly thought: “Now THIS is Gotham City!” In fact, throughout the entire show, I was enamored with just how well they captured its feel. Naturally the designers were likely instructed to pay extra close attention to these minute details, as the town itself essentially plays out as a supporting character. For the entire hour I sat in awe of how the streets and rooftops were brought to life, almost as if they’d jumped from the pages of the Frank Miller comics. If I had to tie it to a more modern example, I’d say it was more Tim Burton than it was Christopher Nolan (which I personally loved). Couple that with a great cast of characters and you’ve got a winning formula.
While you’ll have to watch the show to see which faces from Batman’s gallery of rogues actually pop up, I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed Jada Pinkett-Smith’s take on mobster Fish Mooney. Also, Donal Logue’s portrayal of semi-corrupt detective Harvey Bullock completely stole the show from newcomer Ben McKenzie (who’s supposed to be the star here).
But even though I’m still glowing, that’s not to say that the pilot didn’t have its faults.
The origins story of Batman has been so over-told by this point, I think many agree it’s time to put that piece of lore to bed for a while. With Gotham, I knew going in the Wayne family murder would be the jumping off point. However, I assumed the focus on younger Bruce would quickly fade to the background and the series would shift to more of a cop drama (revolving around the Gotham PD). Based on this week’s preview, they’re pushing the idea of Bruce knowing he must train in order to one day enact justice on the city’s evil doers. I mean, his parents aren’t even cold in the ground yet, and we’re already getting scenes with him up on the roof and holding his hands over open flames in order to “test himself.” Frankly, this is completely rushed and entirely unnecessary. Fans understand this isn’t a series about Batman, but the studio thinks they somehow need to shoe-horn these points in to satisfy them. I think I can speak for all of us when I say “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it” there FOX.
And this is my biggest concern regarding Gotham. After watching the premiere, we got a feel for what the show could be. The gritty drama, combined with a great score and epic themes have set it apart from its more campy brethren found on channels like the CW or ABC. It felt more like watching a movie than a TV show, which is exactly the kind of lightning in a bottle it needs to capture success moving forward. However, if the studio allows itself to stray too far from the path (like it seems to be doing with this Bruce Wayne business), the show is likely to end up as Smallville did. Another DC outing that started off strong, but fell flat by the end (due to its off-the-rails writing). Tonight’s second episode will hopefully tie-up a few of these loose ends, allowing them to delve deeper into the mythos of Gotham’s underbelly. That’s where the true heart of this series lies in my opinion.
Perhaps one day, years from now during the show’s third or fourth season, young Bruce can begin his journey towards vengeance. In the meantime, I say we just put a pin in that for now.