Friday, September 26, 2014

Gotham Episode 1: "Pilot"

So one episode in, and I’m already finding stuff to like and dislike in Fox’s cop series Gotham.

Let’s start off with my big concern. For a show that is supposed to be a police procedural, I’m concerned that there is going to be too much “spot the Batman villain” going on. After singing the praises of the references in Arrow earlier this week, how can I have this as a weakness in Gotham? For one thing, the references in Gotham are WAY more obvious. Catgirl/Selina Kyle is literally crawling through multiple scenes. Scenes where she really doesn’t seem to add much value other than “look, it’s Catwoman!”

This show is absolutely filled with future Bat-villains. Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and possibly the Joker. I’m hoping that the show can throttle back that excitement a bit. I don’t mind the foundation work for Batman’s mythos, but I want to see the show focus on what it does well.

So that brings me to the good stuff. The actual cop procedural portion of the program is pretty strong. Ben McKenzie is playing a young Detective James Gordon. What I love about McKenzie’s performance is that he’s already playing Gordon like an old man. Listen to his voice, his dialogue. Watch the way McKenzie has him interact. This is a young old man, a junior cop burdened with responsibility beyond his years. I think it is going to be fun seeing Gordon butt up against corruption and jerks in the Gotham PD.

Donal Logue is a longtime favorite of mine, so I was thrilled to see him as Detective Harvey Bullock. Make no mistake; Bullock is corrupt on this series. Gordon is clearly unwelcome, dragging him away from his comfort zone. What I like is that there is already a bit of light in Logue’s Bullock. He does the right thing a few times in this episode, giving me hope that Gordon is going to make this dirty cop just a bit cleaner. That is going to be neat to see.

I loved Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney. She’s a delight as the friendly but deadly mob boss with professional ties to both the mob and personal ties to the GCPD. Smith seems effortlessly comfortable in the role. Watching her switch her focus between a phone call, young Oswald Cobblepot, and our first “maybe Joker” is possibly the high point of the first episode.

Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot is quite possibly the worst villain so far. He’s a sadist, he’s disloyal, and he is pretty clearly a monster. Gordon has a tough choice concerning Cobblepot, and it sure seems like Gordon made the wrong call, judging by the closing scene of “Pilot.”

The rest of the supporting cast shows potential too. There is a sense of ridiculousness already with the use of the gimp-butcher who nearly puts an end to our heroes. I’m not at all sold on Renee Montoya and her interactions with Gordon’s fiancée Barbara. Montoya comes off as superior and a bit of a bully, which is a direction I hope they avoid for such a cool character in the comics.

As for Alfred and Batman? It already seems too forced. Frankly, I think the show would be stronger with less of the future Batman and more cops and robbers.

So there is GOOD potential here. The main two cops are a good team. The antagonists are either likable or I already love to hate them. I’ll definitely be back for episode 2. (And I might try to start writing reviews of this and Arrow as the seasons get into full swing.)


Devin said...

Watched this over the weekend. As a cop show it's pretty good, but I don't have a ton of interest in cop shows.

As a comic book show it's way too forced. They may have had to cram all those characters into the pilot to get it made, so I hope they lay off a little in future episodes. Normal TV story structure should be more important than seeding continuity.

And the Montaya/Barbara scene was so far beyond subtle I was cracking up. To show they had a relationship she basically glances at her crotch.

Timbotron said...

Agreed on all counts! "Does he know you like I do?"

Buddy2Blogger said...

I agree there are a lot of supervillains in just one episode to digest. Hopefully, the show will find its feet and justify the inclusion of so many of them.

I am liking the performances of Robin Lord Taylor and Jada Pinkett Smith.