As someone who knows very little about the Batman comics, I came into this thinking that FOX’s new show, Gotham, an origin story, would focus on a young Bruce Wayne. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the series will focus primarily on the rise of the future Police Commissioner of Gotham, Jim Gordon.
However, there are plenty of familiar characters that will also have their back stories explained. For the uninitiated, it is a chance to see a different take on these characters.
I’m not sure what the hardcore D.C. fans will think of what are presumably changes to the characters’ backgrounds. There has to be a balance between appeasing hardcore fans and appealing to the masses. It is only the pilot, but it seems to me that FOX is really trying to keep some kind of balance between the two extremes.
Ben McKenzie (Southland, The OC) plays the young Gordon. Even with all the corruption in the police department, Gordon believes in doing the right thing. He is politically savvy and it is the Wayne murder that will start him on his path to the top office. He starts to forge a relationship with the young Wayne played David Mazouz . Despite some impulsive decisions, he also shows his intelligence and is not someone to be trifled with.
McKenzie is likable in the role and is believable as the rookie cop who is naïve, but determined. He has come a long way from his time on The O.C.
His partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is the mentor of young Jim Gordon. The dynamic is interesting because you have a guy who is clearly involved with organized crime, yet has an admiration for Jim’s unwavering commitment to justice. There are scenes in the pilot that make me think that Jim will eventually win him over. The duo have to deal with the shadowy gangster Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).
Mooney is as sexy as she is devious. She is obviously hiding something from the police, but the dynamic duo doesn’t figure out what it is until later. Smith does a really good job of showing the character’s vicious side during a sequence where Gordon confronts her.
Adding to the intrigue, there is only one person that can rein her in, Carmine Falcone.
Falcone (John Doman) is the mob boss that employs Mooney and has the majority of the city’s infrastructure on his payroll. He knew Jim’s father, the former D.A. of Gotham. The mobster says that he wants to save the city as Jim quips about crime being “noble.”
It adds a layer of mystery and intrigue as to what Falcone’s motives truly are. I got the sense that he was saying that more to get Jim on his side as opposed to being a knight in shining armor for Gotham. He wants Jim to get “with the program.” That leads to a scene with none other than with a young Oswald Cobblepot aka, The Penguin.
Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) is one of Mooney’s employees, weak, yet sadistic. There are little warning signs showing what he will become. The final scene with him is particularly violent, and you see the transformation from a lowly mobster to a psychotic killer. There is one issue with the pilot, there was too much going on.
There were a lot of cameos and subplots. Appearances included Selina Kyle, Edward Nygma, Alfred Pennyworth and many others. It was a lot to get to in one episode. The show needs to slow down and develop the other characters a little better. Other than that, I loved it. The writing was sharp. Main characters were not cardboard cutouts and had some depth to them.
It kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole hour. Gotham is off to a good start and it should get better as the series goes along.
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