Prequels and Comics and Superheroes – Oh my! Channel Surfing: Gotham

GOTHAM_CAROUSEL_DESKTOP_1400x386-carousel-1400x386I’m gonna start this out by saying I’m pretty much over crime dramas – there are only so many variations one can handle, only so many CSI’s and NCIS’s and SVU’s, etc.  That being said – I’m down with this show.  So… how was the series premier you ask?  Let’s get to it!

101-002-gotham-pilot-photos-lightbox-tbdLike any Batman-based story, the show begins at, well, the beginning; a dark alley, Bruce Wayne as a young boy with his parents, and a mugging gone horribly wrong… or did it?  We’re then quickly introduced to the show’s protagonist, future police commissioner James Gordon.  But for now, he’s only a lowly detective – new on the beat, and newly assigned partner of Detective Harvey Bullock.  While Harvey inspects the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne, Gordon takes a moment to talk with and console young Bruce: he shares a story from his youth in an attempt to connect with Bruce, he gets Bruce to tell him what happened – gleaning one fact he grabs on to with an almost obsessive tenacity, and then he makes a promise we all know he doesn’t keep/isn’t able to keep for years and years.

harvey-bullock-gothamFrom that point on, we follow the detectives as they attempt to track down the Waynes’ murderer.  First though, Harvey has a couple of moments: first where he tries to disappear himself from the crime scene so he doesn’t have to deal with the pressure of the case – unfortunately everybody’s seen him there and Gordon is having a chat on the stoop with the only witness; he’s offered the opportunity to pass the case off to the Major Crimes Unit(MCU) in a diner where he’s engaging in a little off/on-duty coffee of the Irish variety, but his ego gets in the way so he’s stuck with a case he didn’t want to begin with; and finally he has a tet-a-tet with the Chief… where he tries to ditch Gordon, but she’s not having any of it, so like I said – off they go!

Here it turns into your typical police drama with Harvey and Gordon chasing down leads, sussing out sources, interrogating the seedy underworld of Gotham, etc.  We’re introduced to local crime boss Fish Mooney, an attractive woman who’s not afraid to swing a bat if she’s having a… disagreement with you, and only moments later do we meet that favourite Batman villain, the Penguin; I mean Oswald Cobblepot.  A short trip to the precinct later, and you come away with the distinct impression you know who The Riddler is gotham-trailer-foxgoing to be – I mean, it’s not like they tried to drive the point home – with a pile driver.  God grief, guys – leave something to the imagination; one riddle would have been enough, but that endless stream was overkill.  Our detectives then find themselves at a local criminal’s house – one they suspect of being the killer.  One who also happens to be the father of the future miss Poison Ivy – I mean, seriously, guys?  Subtlety – it won’t kill you!  Sensing that he’s about to become a patsy the thug takes off out the window and a chase ensues – there’s only one way for this to end and Harvey ends up shooting and killing him to save Gordon’s life.  A sweep of the guy’s apartment uncovers the murder weapon from the Wayne case and Mrs. Wayne’s string of pearls.

Case closed.  Riiggghhhhttttt.  Still way too much time for that to be it.  Gordon is approached by the MCU cops that wanted the case in the beginning, and they tell him they’re going to take him and Harvey down for framing and killing the wrong guy.  Gordon, of course, takes great umbrage with this and vows to find out the truth himself, and after a brief trip back to the dead man’s apartment finds they may be right – they got the wrong guy.

“You can’t have organized crime without law and order”

~ Carmine Falcone ~

gotham18tvf-3-webA few minutes and one stupid meeting later finds Gordon hanging upside-down in a meat locker.  Harvey joins him shortly after trying to intervene on Gordon’s behalf, and then it gets weird.  Big Crime Boss Carmine Falcone shows up himself and saves the two cops.  There’s a conversation about organized crime needing the po-po, and how Falcone and Gordon’s pop were close… at least as close as a DA and a criminal mastermind could be and still be fairly good at their jobs I guess.  Then Gordon and Harvey are sent on their merry way; with one hitch: to show that he’s with the program, Harvey drives them to the piers and tells Gordon he has to kill Oswald for Falcone.  After discovering his fiance may be in danger if he doesn’t do what he’s told, Gordon walks Oswald to the end of the pier and puts a bullet right next to his head, pushing him into the water after telling him to never come back to Gotham (yeah, right – like that’s gonna happen).

Because he’s a good guy and a good cop, Gordon makes a trip to the Wayne mansion and let’s Bruce know that they were wrong and got the wrong guy, but that he’s going to do his best to find the right one.  And that’s where we leave the story, until next week and all that.

So now we get into the commentary, as if there weren’t enough of that above already!

erin-richards-barbara-kean-gordon-gothamFirst off, good show.  I’m looking forward to how it develops and where they go with it.  The setting is classic Gotham – dark metropolis with a super-seedy underbelly.  The cinematography is excellent, the whole dark crime drama is completely believable because of it.  The casting was spot-on: love the detectives, the criminals and Erin Richards as Gordon’s fiance.  The acting in it is pretty good, but while the main character of this show is going to be Gordon (Ben McKenzie) I think the better acting so far has come from his partner Harvey (Donal Logue) and Oswald (Robin Lord Taylor).  I also think that for a show about pre-Batman Gotham, it seems like they’re going to spend an awful lot of time developing the Bruce Wayne/James Gordon relationship; not sure that’s the way to go, but I’m not the producer or even a writer so we’ll see how it goes.  They possibly over-played their hand in the opening episode as well: the immediate introduction of so many key characters/villains from the Batman story leaves you wondering if they spent all their ammunition already, and what they plan on doing afterwards.  And the introductions themselves were ridiculously cheesy as mentioned above, just something they could have done better.  I mean, repeated muggings by the young cat-burglar who will grow up to be Catwoman would have been enough…  but you had to have her stealing milk to feed cats?  Overkill.

Anyways – until next time remember: Batman may have been the hero the city needs…. but for now they’ll have to settle for Detective Gordon.

Gotham airs Mondays at 8pm PST on Fox

J.T. Riles ~

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