Review: Gotham Season 1 Episode 1 (Warning, Contains Spoilers)
As anyone that reads this site regularly will know, we love Batman here at Geektown. Personally I’ve had an ever expanding collection of Batman trades, comics and graphic novels since the early 90s, so I’m pretty well versed in the Batman and DC universe. When I heard they were planning a show based on Gotham, but pre-batman, I did wonder if the guys at Fox could pull it off. Thankfully they have, and in spectacular fashion.
The show is centred around a young, idealistic, Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Newly arrived in the cesspool that is Gotham city he soon discovers that pretty much everyone is on the take or playing sides. He’s partnered up with the grizzled old hand Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Not a out-and-out dirty cop, but definitely not a clean one either. Just someone who understands how Gotham works, and will do whatever it takes to not rock the boat. That becomes difficult when Gordon and Bullock get called to a double homicide. 2 people shot in an alley, and the only known witness is their son, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz)…
Bullock is desperate to hand the case off to special branch cops Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones), but Gordon insists they follow it up. This leads to a meeting with Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), a mob boss working under Gotham’s main crime lord Carmine Falcone. It’s also the first time we meet Robin Lord Taylor’s wonderfully slimy Oswald Cobblepot (nicknamed ‘Penguin’ by the rest of Fish’s crew), who’s working as a henchman for Fish. Taylor plays Cobblepot with a great mix of toadying deference to his boss, whilst ,behind his eyes, you can tell there are cogs turning about how to step over her, and climb the criminal ladder.
Oswald is not the only familiar future villain to pop up on the show, as they’re sprinkled throughout the episode if you know your Batman mythology. Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) is already out picking pockets on her way to becoming Catwoman. Eddie Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) is working as the police coroner, but is already annoying people with riddles. In the course of the investigation, Gordon and Bullock also meet a young girl called Ivy Pepper, who seems to have an interest in plants… There’s also a rather bad comedian telling jokes in Fish’s club, but I believe the plan is to plant ‘possible’ Joker’s throughout the series without ever actually revealing him. Sort of a ‘How I Met Your Joker’. 😉
When Gordon goes to Wayne Manor, we get our first proper meeting with Bruce’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). This version is less the worry wart, upper-class Alfred of the comics, and seems to be rather more down to earth, not afraid to put Bruce in his place when he needs it. His line when he sees young ‘Master Bruce’ standing on the edge of the manor roof is just brilliant, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how his character and relationship with the young Bruce develops.
There are changes from the comics, but I think that was to be expected. It’s not like the origin’s of Gotham’s villains (or heroes) is set in stone, as there have been multiple retelling of their origins over the years. Much as I love Frank Miller’s Batman Year One, I also loved Nolan’s take on the origin story, and Scott Snyder’s latest take in the more recent Zero Year Batman comics. In a multi-verse of possibilities, there’s room out there for every variation. Bruno Heller (creator of Gotham, as well as HBO’s superb ‘Rome’, and the much loved ‘The Mentalist’) has done a great job weaving the characters into a solid, engaging story, that leaves you wanting to see where it goes next.
Gotham will air on Channel 5 – 13th October at 9pm, and I urge you to tune in. If you love Batman, cop shows, or just well written drama, you will love it.