Fox’s new original series entitled Gotham, chronicles a new young detective in James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he begins his career working with detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Their first case is as expected; the all too familiar Murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Simple rules here, not gonna go too deep as it is only a pilot. Just some things I liked, didn’t like and what I expect in coming episodes.
Let’s go with the good news first. Well to start off, the actors are pretty good for the most part. Jim Gordon is rigid but not absent compassion which are two of the best qualities for him to display. Specifically in two of the longer exchanges between himself and Bruce (one just after the murder and another one at the end of the episode). He learns very fast just how crooked the city is by the end so it will be interesting to see how his character continues to change as the season continues to progress. Harvey Bullock and Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) are two standouts for me with Bullock as the grizzly veteran who has to play the game to get by and Cobblepot as the under appreciated subordinate with clear ulterior motives. Within the first few episodes two things are apparent; the first is that Gordon and Bullock will continue to show differences in philosophy we will see whose philosophy wins out. The second is that between Gordon and Cobblepot, there is little doubt that they’ll continue to have exchanges and it gives way to a unique nature their relationship is gonna have and how Cobblepot’s rise to power as a bit more of a ruthless antagonist is going to play out.
Gotham Itself actually comes off looking very nice on-screen. The smoky grey and dingy appearance feel appropriate for the city. Visually, it is somewhat reminiscent of the noire style that was made so famous by the original Batman animated series. Needless to say, it’s always a good thing to be compared to Batman: the Animated Series in any way possible.
Now for the bad; and there’s a bit of it. What is up with the overflow of characters. The one’s like Detectives Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) are nice little introductions as they serve as foils to Gordon and Bullock, plus they have their own interesting stories of their own. Take a little time to look it up and you’ll see what I mean. However, for every Montoya or Allen you’ll get The Riddler or a Poison Ivy appearance and some characters that just seem unnecessary. I do not mind seeing teasers for future characters but subtlety is definitely a better way to go with this show.
And now for probably the biggest issue I have; where is the common sense? In one pivotal scene in the series premiere (spoilers ahead), Gordon and Bullock are questioning a former convict and primary suspect in their case concerning the murder of the Wayne’s which concludes with a chase and small scuffle and ends with Bullock shooting the man in defense of his partner. This all sounds well and good right? Well, when they find out that the guy wasn’t the killer after all, both Gordon and (especially) Bullock get a little panicked at the fact that they killed a man innocent of the murders.
This is quite the blunder in writing considering the fact that the guy went on the run almost as soon as they started questioning him, which just so happens to be a telltale sign of guilt. Not only that but he takes a gun with him and begins to shoot at them as the chase begins. Couple that with the fact that he picks up a knife before the scuffle starts between himself and Gordon and uses it to get the advantage and potentially kill him before Bullock puts him down with a gun shot… but he’s an innocent man right? If you don’t get how much of a failure that is in script writing, then I have nothing else to say. There are more throughout the series but the series is young and so is the development of the show.
I could go on and on about the shortcomings of the show just as I could go on about the positives. Both of which would end up being useless because in the end it’s very early and as much dissecting as I or anyone can do, there’s still much time to get better and clean up a lot of issues. I do expect to see better stories to come and the continuous and inevitable threat of Cobblepot’s rise to power. There is more to like about it than to not and as much as I had soured on the series going up to its premiere, I can say I’ve enjoyed it through its first five episodes and hope for better things as it continues.
Verdict: Not a bad show and has some potential. It gets better gradually and while there’s still much to be desired there is still some good stuff to be entertained by.
+ Solid acting from recurring characters
+ Classic dynamic between Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock
– Inconsistency in script and tone
– Lack of setup for future characters
Gotham airs Monday nights 8PM Eastern/7PM central on Fox