So, still can’t wait to see Batfleck and the Man of Steel tear down (most likely) Gotham when they have their inevitable smack-down in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice? Well I guess until then we can indulge ourselves with the origins series that is Gotham.
Oh Gotham, seriously a city so corrupt with so much crime where every cop is dirty, the mob more or less runs the mayor’s office and so on, it’s amazing anyone wants to live there at all. Five minutes into the pilot titled, The Good, The Bad and Ugly, we have a pre-batman Bruce Wayne on his knees yelling “NOOOOOOO” at the demise of his parents. We’re then introduced to the only honest cop in Gotham, James Gordon. He briefly chats to Bruce who informs him that the killer had shiny shoes. He and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) a corrupt cop who prefers to whine and moan rather than solve a case, are tasked with solving the case.
Along the way we’re briefly given glimpses of Edward Nygma who will go on to be The Riddler, this time around he works in forensics and always speaks in riddles. A young Poison Ivy makes a brief appearance as well as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman who witnessed the Wayne murders.
The pilot story is mainly about Gordon and Bullock putting the pieces together about the Wayne’s murders while establishing a connection between Bruce and Gordon as well as Gordon and Bullock, and Gordon and his girlfriend Barbara, as well as Bullock’s friendship with Fish Mooney. Too many characters or plot threads in that paragraph, well that is exactly what Gotham is like. Too many characters being squeezed in as well as the subplots. Sometimes it works other times I just wished I could fast forward through. Despite the need to cram everything and everyone into one episode here are some good things about the show.
Ben Mackenzie is great as a young James Gordon. I found him believable and was rooting for him all the way.
Bullock is there to guide Gordon through Gotham teaching him its inner workings along the way. Logue plays him with excellent comedic timing. It’s a guy who love and hate at the same time.
Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth is savagely underused here but with so many characters crammed into one episode I understand. As for his portrayal, I think he hits the right notes. He’s tough on Bruce but as he explains to Gordon, he never had a kid before.
as the young Bruce Wayne is good and only gets better in later episodes as the writers explores his origins, (more on that in later reviews)
The real standout though is Robin Taylor Lord as Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin. Unlike previous incarnations, Gotham’s Cobblepot isn’t squat and round with a British accent. He’s skinny and gets quite disturbingly giggly when his sadistic side is let loose. Since this is an origin story, he isn’t the mob boss we all know, here he’s more of a…well it never actually explains what he does all we know is he works for one of the most powerful mobsters in Gotham Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) A character written especially for the show, she’s interesting but gets overshadowed by Taylor.
Writer Bruno Heller doesn’t fall short of inserting little winks here and there too. For instance a young Bruce Wayne receives a berating by Alfred when he quietly walks in on a conversation he and Gordon were having. Or the fact we see Mooney auditioning a comedian for her nightclub who isn’t particularly funny, for those that have read the Alan Moore comics, Joker used to be a failed stand-up comedian before he became the Clown Prince of Crime.
As for the bad points, there aren’t too many if I am honest. Some of the characters motives and actions do not seem believable but then again, we are watching a show that will have super powered characters and a man dressing as a bat, or probably ending when he does, until then it shall be a fun ride.
Overall despite a few hiccups here and there Gotham’s pilot was pretty solid. Personally I hardly ever judge pilots too much because the pilot is when the cast and crew are still finding their feet. With that said, the writers and cast know exactly what they are setting out to do and that is to make some damn fun television.
Watch it on Mondays 9pm on Channel 5