Review: Gotham

Every time the Batman saga gets a reboot it always starts with a young Bruce Wayne witnessing the murder of his parents. Then we jump forward to an adult Bruce Wayne either being Batman or at least training to become Batman. But what happened in all those years in between and how did all the other characters in this DC comics universe get to be the iconic characters they are destined to become? And how did the city of Gotham itself become a city that would attract such costumed arch criminals and a masked vigilante to fight them? Fox network’s new Monday night series “Gotham” attempts to answer those questions and if the first episode is any indication of what’s to come, it does so brilliantly.

The story is told through the eyes of Detective James Gordon whom we know will later become the famous police Commissioner Gordon who is Batman’s contact in the Gotham City Police Department. He is portrayed by Ben McKenzie who you would most recently remember from the TV series Southland where he played police officer Ben Sherman. Gordon is a young rookie detective who is partnered with the veteran Detective Harvey Bullock who has appeared in the Batman comics but has never been in any of the films or TV series. He is very aptly played by Donal Logue who has recently done multiple episodes guest starring roles on Law & Order:SVU, Vikings, and Sons Of Anarchy. He is a tough, shoots first and ask questions later kind of guy who is not afraid to do what needs to be done to catch the bad guys. In contrast to Gordon who literally shouts “stop or I’ll shoot” while chasing a bad guy who is firing at him. Gordon never did fire his weapon throughout the chase. In another scene he talks down a crazed junkie who is holding someone hostage rather than just shoot the guy and get it over with as Bullock would have preferred he had done.

While this good cop/bad cop duo would make it interesting enough show on its own, we also get to see Gotham’s up-and-coming band of young criminals. It gives us the opportunity to see their origin stories in a new light as well.

First off is Selena Kyle who is a teenage street kid who picks pockets, agilly slinks around rooftops and fire escapes, and likes to steal bottles of milk to feed stray cats. She is also a witness to the killing of Bruce Wayne’s parents and throughout the first episode keeps an eye on the young orphan showing us that Catwoman’s interest in Bruce Wayne goes back a lot farther than we thought. She is portrayed by newcomer young actress Camren Biscondova. Although she hasn’t had any lines yet, she certainly portrays the physical aspects of the character well.

Oswald Cobblepot is a young henchman who is already going by the nickname “The Penguin” because of his odd walk. However it’s a name he is not yet embraced and is angry whenever called by that name. He is a right-hand man to a new character not found in the comics. Jane Pinkett Smith portrays Fish Mooney. She is a nightclub owner with connections to a local mob boss Carmine Falcone.

We are also introduced to Edward Nygma who is a police evidence technician who is unusually obsessed with riddles. You don’t have to be clairvoyant to figure out his future. We also get a glimpse of a very young and timid girl named Ivy Pepper who avoids dealing with her abusive father by tending houseplants. We know her future as “Poison Ivy”. There is also a glimpse of a comedian who is auditioning to play at Fish Mooney’s nightclub who is not identified as a criminal but whose dark sense of humor could eventually land him the title Joker.

Gotham itself is a character in the show. We get to see its corrupt police department is achieved a tenuous detente with the criminal underworld. Gordon’s struggle will be between doing what’s right and maintaining this balance between law and organized crime that keeps the city from decaying into total chaos.

If TV shows get Emmy awards for casting (I don’t know if they do or not) this one is certainly worthy of earning one. Gordon, Bullock, and Mooney are familiar faces to TV viewers but they fit the roles excellently. The young criminals however are mostly unknowns with extremely short resumes on but each looks as though they were born to play their parts as these characters.

If you are a fan the Batman saga then this is an absolute “Must-See” on my rating scale. But even if you are not a comic book fan but are a fan of film noir crime drama with fascinating characters and amazing art direction then I would highly recommend this to you also. You won’t see capes, or masks, or the usual comic book shtick. This is just juicy crime drama that’s well worth a look see.

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