The time is upon us! No, not the rapture. I wasn’t being that dramatic. What I mean is, it’s September. So, it’s that point in the year when movies go into hibernation and television awakens from summer slumber. And this show, above all shows, is the show The Divine One is the most excited for! Comic books, before any other medium, were the first Geektastic thing that ever sparked the fire in the fanboy that is writing for you all today.
Gotham is a prequel to the Batman Universe. A universe that has been fascinating all of us for decades. But instead of it being about “Bats” himself, this series centers around Detective Jim Gordon (Southland’s Ben McKenzie), in his early years on the Gotham Police Department before he becomes the Commissioner of the famous city.
The pilot episode opens on Gordon starting out at Gotham PD, partnered with veteran detective, Harvey Bullock (Vikings’ Donal Logue). And what case are they charged with? Oh, just a cosmopolitan couple, robbed and murdered in the theater district, witnessed only by their young son. Sound familiar? Boom. It got my attention. Detective Gordon discovers that the victims are the very wealthy Tom and Martha Wayne, and their son and heir, Bruce (Touch’s David Mazouz), has now been orphaned. Comforting Bruce, Gordon promises he will not rest until he finds the murderer and brings him to justice. So there it is… Premise established!
Since this is the pilot, I won’t judge Mr. McKenzie on his acting too much. Yet. He’s good if not a little too “tough cop” sometimes. But I do feel he shows promise exhibiting Gordon’s sense of morality, a very integral part to the heart of the character. And, of course, all I have to say about Donal Logue is Donal Logue. Man is always solid. ‘Nuff said.
Now as much as Detective Gordon is an interesting character, there are so many other awesome parts of Batman’s mythology over the years so he couldn’t hog all the attention. Throughout this episode, we’re introduced to the younger versions of Catwoman, Riddler, Pengiun, and Poison Ivy, all popping up in ways that move the story along instead of just trying to impress the viewing audience with the notoriety of characters. Now, obviously they haven’t become those famous villains yet, but the fact that this show is basically one giant origin story has me so damn excited!
Unfortunately, in an establishing episode there wasn’t much screen time for all of them to share, but a substantial amount was given to Oswald Cobblepot (Accepted’s Robin Taylor), a.k.a. The Penguin. He works for crime boss, Fish Mooney (Hawthorne’s Jada Pinkett Smith) and he just reeks of evil already. Taylor does an outstanding job of showing the ambition, the cunning, and the manipulation the Cobblepot possesses, and he steals every scene that he is brought into. Pinkett actually does the role of Fish Mooney justice as well. Although I’m not a huge fan of hers in general, she definitely shows that her character has the strength and violent nature to be in charge.
Half the reason the show works is the massive attention spent on the look of Gotham itself, and its amazing artistic detail. The production design, the costumes, even the hair and makeup, all serve to transport us to a new world that doesn’t just look like another episode of every other generic network show. There were only a couple instances that pulled me out — some contemporary music is used to score one scene, and I was not fond of the use of a POV camera shot during a chase scene. But overall the show maintains a unique visual style. It keeps you from thinking about Justin Beiber or Kim Kardashian, or whatever, and, yeah, everybody in Gotham has cell phones so obviously it isn’t the 60’s, but the noir feel really makes you feel like you’re watching a show set in Gotham.
Gotham airs Monday nights at 8pm on FOX