Gotham is essentially the Smallville of the Batman folklore. The series tells the story of Bruce Wayne as a child right after his parents are killed. The pilot episode focussed primarily, though, around rookie detective, Jim Gordon, (Ben McKenzie) who is an ambitious and honest cop stuck with a partner-and an entire police force for that matter-that are lazy and corrupt. The story goes that several years ago Warner Bros. was finalizing negotiations to do something like Gotham right after Smallville ended. It would have been a unique and imaginative DC origin-story programming juggernaut. Alas, it fell through because someone named Christopher Nolan convinced Warner Bros. execs to let him make something called Batman Begins instead… and we all know how I feel about that.
The episode had a very film noir appeal to it throughout the episode with several establishing shots at night overlooking the Gotham skyline. I saw similar framing that coincided with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One masterpiece. A teenage Selina Kyle (Carmen Bicondova) masterfully navigating Gotham rooftops and fire escapes, but is still trying to figure out how to be an inconspicuous pickpocket. A learning curve must be granted, right? I gotta give it to the producers who cast a girl who looks like if Michelle Pfieffer had gone back in time 40 years. If that was their intention, they nailed it! Anyway, she witnesses Bruce Wayne’s parents being gunned down in front of young Bruce (David Mazouz.)
We were also sparsely introduced to other main characters in the Batman mythology such as: Alfred Pennyworth, (Sean Pertwee) Poison Ivy, (Clare Foley) and Edward Nigma (Cory Michael Smith) who surprisingly worked as the forensics expert for the Gotham PD. This was a creative initiative that the producers took, which honestly didn’t bother me that much.
But the two villains I wanted to focus on were Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Oswald Cobbelpot (Robin Lord Taylor.) Fish is a newcomer to the Batman mythology as a crime boss losing grips on her turf to Carmine Falcone. Cobblepot serves as Fish’s lackey and errand boy. The other thugs call him “Penguin…” and he doesn’t like it. Taylor is another casting that I felt was very remnant of what I’ve seen in movies and comics for years… he just needs to gain about a hundred pounds.
I thought Gotham was a good show that was true to the origin story where it counted and I felt indifferent when it didn’t. They were really ambitious introducing so many characters in the pilot episode, but what I’m most looking forward to is seeing how and when they will introduce Joker in the show. I wonder if they’ll hint him during the season finale just like they did with the last few minutes in Batman Begins. Here’s hoping.