Series Premiere: Gotham Review

Series Premiere: Gotham Review

Full disclosure, I don’t know a lot about Batman. In fact, all I do know is courtesy of Christopher Nolan and my boyfriend. But thankfully Gotham has been created to be easily accessible for Batman novices. Oh, I’m sure there are little nods to the more invested Batman fans (or at least there should be if they want to earn their comic book cred), but for the most part its all Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordan and a roster of villains easily identified by those who still think of Adam West as the true Batman.

Unfortunately, that attempt to appeal to all audiences may be Gotham’s greatest obstacle to overcome. It wants to be just another crime drama for those uninterested in the Batman universe and an alternate, interesting take on that universe for everyone whose main draw was the Batman connection. Those two shows cannot exist within the same hour.

But tone is a tricky thing to master for any show and I assume that the creators of a show called Gotham actually want to make a comic book show. Once it becomes clear that the audiences are more interested in the Batman aspects than the generic crime drama ones, I see no reason Gotham can’t reach Agents of Shield levels of success. And yes, I know that’s damning it with faint praise. That was the point.

But enough about what the show should become, lets talk about what it currently is. And what it is not, is another Batman reboot. While the pilot told the familiar origin story of the boy who would become Batman, Gotham is much more interested in the man who would become Batman’s inside man.

I can’t help thinking that Gotham is setting itself up to be a very depressing show, indeed. Gotham is depicted as city drowning in corruption and crime with only Jim Gordon dedicated to fixing it. But, if Gotham wants to remain true to the Batman trajectory (which I assume they do, because what else is the point?) then the city must remain a wasteland for the next 20 years or however long it takes young master Wayne to learn the ways of the bat. Does that mean that (if the show is successful, because so many are) we’ll be treated to an endless parade of the villains getting more powerful while Jim Gordon slowly becomes a bitter man who needs to rely on a caped crusader to finish his mission of cleaning up his city? That doesn’t sound like much fun.

Visually Gotham is on point. It relies on saturated colors the way Sin City relies on black and white and constantly shifts between comic book camp and gritty crime drama. The actors use these shifts to eat as much scenery as possible, especially Donal Logue (as Gordon’s partner Harvey Bullock) and Jada Pinkett Smith (as crime boss Fish Mooney). From what I can remember of Ben McKenzie (Gordon) on The O.C. he’s chewing the scenery as much as he can manage, though in his case it’s more like gumming the scenery. But a show like this requires a straight man to ground all the crazy and McKenzie is as good a choice as any.

Final Verdict: If it seems like your cup of tea, and it clearly won’t be a show to everyone’s taste, its worth a few more episodes to see if it can find its footing.

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Filed under: Series Premiere

Tags: FOX, Gotham, Series Premiere

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