Gotham on Fox premiere review
Gotham begins with running along rooftops and murder, with some Batman reruns thrown in for good measure. “Pilot” is a rollcall of Batman’s cast, and delivers on some really familiar dialogue we’ve already heard in The Dark Knight. We learn about Gotham City’s early days, like we’ve already seen in Batman: Year One, except longer and more complicated. We get Jim Gordon in almost every scene, and more details about his life and his job, which is good, because that’s all that this television show needs. I guess we’ll have to endure endless Batman references though, to get some actual ratings.
Jim Gordon is an idealistic, new cop in Gotham, which isn’t a very good fit for him. Everyone hates his guts, even his own partner. We never really meet Mrs. Gordon in the comic books, so hopefully we’ll get some depth out of his model girlfriend. He dives headlong into the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but he doesn’t get anywhere. He can’t get underneath the filth and the corruption, which makes me wonder how he did it in the first place.
When Jim Gordon scratches the surface of the filth underneath a conspiracy, he gets a boot to the face. I really didn’t think any place on Earth could be so antagonistic and evil, much less a police department. Gordon tries to dodge competing mob factions. They try to murder him, then save him all in one breath. It’s confusing. Does anyone play it straight? Not in Gotham, I guess.
The atmosphere of Gotham is just right. I think the dark and the crap on the streets is plenty to make me believe this is a downtrodden city. The show is about the characters though, and it doesn’t waste time panning the environment. There’s enough mood and angst already, so we don’t need to pan the environment like some lazy David Fincher movie. This show is not lazy and gives character moments, good and bad.
Ben McKenzie needs to be less wooden please. Ben has a good complementary cast, so he looks pretty good for about 30 minutes in the middle of the show. That was the best part. His acting at the beginning and end was more wooden than an oak tree though. I thought he was rubbing off on Erin Richards, but she does alright in spite of her boyfriend.
I’m not sure if a casual viewer is going to get all these Batman references. One of the gags was the repeated teasing of Cobblepot, calling him “Penguin”, as in his pseudonym in the comics. This will undoubtedly fly over everyone’s head. Alfred being Australian will fly over their heads too, which is a good thing for them. There are other changes, some I liked and some I guess I can live with. Harvey Bullock needs a donut though, come on.
All in all, I was not blown away by Gotham on Fox. They threw all their apples at me all at once and didn’t hold anything back. They had more cameos than an episode of the Simpsons, but they actually stuck with a few characters. Others they did nothing with. Who is this Catwoman? It wasn’t even hinted at. On the other hand, I was impressed by Erin Richards and Jada Pinkett Smith. Hopefully, some characters can actually develop. I have a feeling we’re going to see Jim Gordon hit rock bottom, his girlfriend get murdered, and the beginnings of a war, just as predicted in “Pilot”. They just need to get there fast, in order to make something dramatic out of this cluster of things they’ve thrown together.