Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Erin Richards et al.
It is no big surprise that Gotham has been one of the most highly anticipated shows for the coming fall. From the Casual Dark Knight fan to the most fanatic DC follower, the internet has blown up with discussions and speculations. With the success of Arrow and the coming of The Flash some have had cause for rejoice, while those remembering the previous Flash series and Birds of Prey don’t know how to feel. It has been clear from the get go that Gotham is not a Batman story, but more focuses on Jim Gordon (McKenzie) and his first year in his new city. Like Arrow the first episode hints at several origin stories of some the biggest villains in the world of Batman as well as of things that might possibly come.
The first episode opens on the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, a scene most Batman fans are well acquainted with, there is one slight difference though, that the robber kills the couple on purpose. This of course sets the stage for a storyline that will carry on throughout the series, as the investigation continues to stay open at the end of the episode, at least in Gordon’s mind. The story of an assassin of the Waynes may seem novel to some, but has already been explored by Andrew Vachss in his book Batman: The Ultimate Evil from 1995.
The storyline of Gotham and the events that occur in the premier episode are all well and good. Most of it feels like it fits in the DC universe as well as certain characters and their traits. The big issue is the use of the Batman cast of characters. We see Oswald Cobbelpot (The Penguin), Edward Nigma (The Riddler) and Ivy (supposedly Poison Ivy) in various roles that clash with their comic book version. Nigma for instance works with the police as a crime scene investigator, which deviates from the fact that he doesn’t appear in Gotham until after Batman has been created. Poison Ivy is in reality named Pamela Isley and not Ivy which also clashes with the comic book version. These are things that may seem trivial to the casual fan, but the figures are undoubtedly added to the series as Easter eggs for fans. One would think that if these things were added for the fans’ sake then they should at least be accurate so as not to offend easily upset fanboys.
That being said Gotham might prove to be a hit yet. There is an interesting story behind it and there is a lot to pick and choose from. The real downside to the show is the acting. Ben McKenzie is way too wooden in his performance and his dialogue is delivered with little to no conviction. The same goes for Donal Logue, Harvey Bullock in the show, who drops the ball on the brutish character and is unconvincing as the larger than life crooked detective. Jada Pinkett Smith also leaves more to be wished for with a performance that is no more than one dimensional. Hopefully these actors can grow with the role, but as a starting point this is not acceptable for a show of this caliber.
As of the first episode one may very well feel as if Gotham has not lived up to the hype and if there is something a show needs it is to hit the ground running. Maybe they can pick up speed and momentum in the coming episodes.