With this past episode of Gotham, the series takes a break until the New Year so I thought it might be time to look at the show and where it’s going. While this won’t be a review, we will go over some of the shows strengths and weakness during the first 10 episodes.
So let’s jump right in.
I’m not gonna lie, I hate the idea of Gotham. Not the idea of a show based in the town, but more the fact its origin for a side character, James Gordon as well as the main other characters who would appear in Gotham before Batman.
It’s not that I don’t like the detective, it’s more that the idea seemed kinda pointless in a world where a new Batman film is around the corner. It also confused me why they would even insert a young Bruce Wayne into the mix as a side character. Timeline issues aside, the bench mark for child versions of famous characters isn’t high.
The whole thing smelled like a combination of TV Executives spitballing ideas and Fox looking to make the most of their kinda sorta ownership of Batman’s TV rights. But in the end the show would have to stand on its own with good stories, solid characterization and a feel that makes it different from Arrow (which is kinda what a Batman show would look like in my opinion).
And in some respects the show has done just that. But then again, it’s failed in a few ways as well.
The pilot of Gotham tried to hook the audience into its sway with the use of fast editing and quick storytelling introducing us to the cast of characters. The few that were given the spotlight were our cops Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) and James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), mid level crime boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), her lackey Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee).
While these six characters are all put into motion, the one who truly stood out was Bullock as the borderline dirty cop tired from the years of Gotham’s corruption. However he isn’t even given a lot of time, as the pilot was filled with so much setup that nothing had time to breath under the plots weight.
In the end we saw less a clear snapshot of what the show could but rather a collection of ideas connected in a way that Fox could push out by saying, “Look! It’s related to Batman.”
Four weeks later:
One of Joss Whedon’s many memorable philosophies about TV was that the pilot isn’t just one episode but rather the first 4-5. This is something that rings true for Gotham as well.
Despite the shows over loaded first episode, the show had time to grow as the weeks past. We saw more of the characters and we got more in terms of long time storytelling with the growing gang war between Falcone (John Doman) and Maroni (David Zayas) .
While the show still struggled at times, the best example being a whole episode based around a man using balloons to kill people, we eventually saw who the real star of the show is with Cobblepot. (more on that later)
Oh yeah, they’re in this show:
The ones who end up lost in the show are Alfred and Bruce who seem to only show up when the plot needs to be broken up between the Police work and Cobblepot’s antics.
The moments were generally underwhelming ranging from Bruce reading documents in his house to punching Thomas Elliott at school. While they can pull the “Remember that kid he punch? Yeah, he’ll be Hush in like 20 years,” that’s more development that the character gets at any point up to there.
If the show hopes to move forward with the Wayne’s storyline the writers need something for him to do other than kinda train in his house. While he doesn’t need to be fighting crime, he needs to do something. Or if they have plans for him down the road the better idea might be to jump forward a few years in the next season (assuming it gets one) and have him played by a different actor dealing more with being a pre-teen in Gotham and starting to look else where for influence and training.
It’s not all horrible as the show seemed to turn a bit of a corner with Bruce in episodes 9 and 10 with the two interacting with Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova). But the show needs to figure out if it wants to focus on Bruce or Gordon as it was first pitched to be.
Two against the world:
Despite the series featuring many different characters the two “main stars” are Bullock and Gordon as they investigate the many crimes that take place in Gotham. These two are the real focus of the show and the casting is seemingly half right, so far.
It’s hard for me to think of Bullock without hearing Robert Costanzo’s voice (his voice actor for the Batman Animated Series) but it’s became clear from the pilot that Logue got the character quickly. When on screen Logue’s performs the washed up cop to a tee. While this is due in no small part to the solid acting and writing it also helps that McKenzie as Gordon isn’t anywhere as strong.
Seeing how this isn’t even the end of the season yet there’s still a lot of room for the Gordon character to come into it’s own, however, for a show that is more or less an origin of said character you’d hope that he’d be the one you’d remember. McKenzie plays more a generic cop then the guy who would inspire the police department to change it’s ways.
As a wrestling fan, I know just how much long time storytelling can be frustrating and ultimately rewarding but as of now we don’t see anything out of Gordon other than, “Grrrr, I’m angry. Look at me grit my teeth a bit.” On the other end, McKenzie does do a good job when it comes to getting beaten up, so he has that going for him. It’s a talent only few have, like Bret Hart or Harrison Ford.
A Man Named Cobblepot:
Without a doubt the one who stands out from everyone else is Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin. Where DeVito and Meredith gave a more over the top version of the character, Taylor plays the character more like a human being than a caricature. There’s grit, pain, anger and a not so healthy sense of humour behind everything that the character does and it makes the character all the better for it.
While Bullock might steal the show from Gordon, the one who really demands the attention is Cobblepot as he slowly builds his own criminal empire on the backs of the Falcone/Maroni conflict. He especially shines in his interactions with new character Fish Mooney as the two were so close only to be broken up by Cobblepot’s betrayal. You get a whole lot of screwed up emotions from the two as they stare angrily into each others eyes.
Despite being called Gotham there are more than a few episodes that feel more like the Penguin show and I’m more than happy with that in the end.
We’ve Only Just Begun:
With only 10 episodes done, and another 12 to come, Gotham shows a lot more potential than I first thought. With a slow start, the show let it’s characters grow and soon the show became solid. The show has so much time to grow and become something more and that’s probably the best thing to say about the Gotham.
Is it great? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible either. In fact it’s way better than it has any right to be.