About a year and a half ago Fox premiered Gotham, a prequel of sorts telling the story of Jim Gordon and the City of Gotham before the Batman. This of course went almost immediately off the rails and became about Batman’s rogues with no actual Batman in sight.
A few days after the pilot aired I felt almost compelled to write out my feelings about it and after hearing what’s been happening this season with Hugo Strange, the Rogues, and the Waynes, it seems that things have changed. Sadly for the worse. So here are my Few Words on Fox’s Gotham:
A day after Gotham premiered on Fox I fired up the old DVR and checked out the much anticipated Pilot. I had shied away from early screening and day after reviews, wanting to get my own take on the show before having my judgement clouded. For the most part it was right down the middle for me. For every good there was an equally opposite bad. Every “awesome!” moment, had a “really?” moment.
First the good. Donal Logue and Ryan Atwood (He’ll always be Ryan Atwood, you can’t win this argument with me) shine as Detectives Harvey Bullock and Jim Gordon. Donal Logue is always amazing and plays the scumbag with a heart of gold so well. The physical set pieces are pretty outstanding. Fish Mooney’s Burlesque Club looked great and Gotham Central was downright gorgeous. Robin Taylor plays a fledgling mobster and soon to be Penguin very well with just the right amount of creepy and sinisterness that the character should be. And that’s kinda it. Those were the only things that stood out to me. The Bruce Wayne/Gordon/Alfred interactions were all pretty ok. And Gordon going against the dirty/dickish cops in Gotham Central was fine, but nothing was “Holy Shit!” amazing.
Now the bad. First things first, why the hell did you need to introduce SO MANY of Batman’s rogues gallery in the pilot. It was completely unnecessary and honestly took my out of the story every time they shoe horned another rogue on screen. I counted four rogues, one major crime boss and what I think might be the shows way of getting Batman’s most famous adversary onto the show by season’s end. As I said earlier I liked how they did Penguin, totally fine with that, but I’m not sure about a 14 year old Catwoman. I’m really not sure about them having her witness the show (and Batman’s) inciting incident where <Spoilers> Thomas and Martha Wayne are brutally murdered in front of Bruce, bringing James Gordon onto the case and starting Bruce down the path of becoming Batman </Spoilers>. Also, and this is from a completely nerdy comic book fan standpoint but, I never pictured Selina older than Bruce. I don’t know why but that totally bothers me. The two characters that win the most shoehorned rogue in Gotham’s pilot award are Edward Nygma and Ivy Pepper . Nygma (soon to be The Riddler) being the forensics guy for the GCPD is ok, I guess, but he certainly didn’t need to show up in the already crowded Pilot. Then there’s little Ivy Pepper, who the show ham-fistedly pushes on us that she’ll grow up to be Poison Ivy because she’s a redhead, that likes plants and now hates cops. A few questions: One) why? Two) why? Three) That’s not her name Four) why? This was the absolutely least necessary character to be put into this pilot and I’m really confused why she couldn’t be Pamela Isley. If you want to bring other Bat-villains into the show for some reason at least have a real reason for them to show up. Not just lazy easter eggs. This brings us to the point in the show that I actually had to pause the DVR and say “really?” out loud. There’s a scene towards the end of the episode where Mooney is auditioning(?) a stand up comic in her club while she eats and is on the phone with her lackeys. I’ll eat my DC Direct Batman hat if we don’t have a nameless comic in a purple suit who cackles at his own jokes about murder and grumbles to himself when he’s inevitably ushered off the stage. If there’s one rogue we don’t need in this iteration of Gotham it’s the Joker. That’s Batman’s guy and really shouldn’t even show up until Batman has made his first real appearance.
There’s some clunky dialogue, bad CGI cityscapes and strange character entanglements, like Jim’s fiancé Barbara being former lovers with GCPD Major Crimes Detective Montoya. (Speaking of Barbara I gotta imagine she doesn’t survive this show, right? That’s why he names his daughter Barbara) But overall I’ll give Gotham a shot. I have to hope that they turn down the Batman and turn up the Gotham Central. The show really needs to be about Gotham City and the trials and tribulations that Jim Gordon goes through being the only good cop in the country’s roughest city. If we get more of that, Gotham could be an amazing show, possibly topping Arrow as the best DC property on TV. Aw man that’s totally not going to happen is it? We’re gonna get a DC’d version of Cop Rock aren’t we. Shit.
Well it isn’t Cop Rock but it sure isn’t some amazing version of Gotham Central either. I can’t really conceive how this show got worse, but there we have it. I was half on board after the pilot, fully out by episode 8ish, and now in season 3 completely mistified as to how this show is still a thing. I don’t usually subscribe to the whole “this thing is ruining my childhood” mindset, but god damnit Gotham you are aren’t helping.