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Now, when I heard that we'd be getting a Batman prequel series focusing on Gotham as it existed before Bruce put on the cowl, I was skeptical. It sounded to me like a retread of Smallville, a show that I never watched or had any interest in. I was pleasantly surprised that this show actually goes in a more creative direction and creates an interesting cop show with comic book supervillains.
The villains, to me, are the main draw of the show. I especially love the Penguin, depicted here as a dark, troubled, self-important anti-hero on a Tony Montana-esque climb to the top. I'd felt that his character was in need of a reimagining after such a long time, and by god this show delivered, turning him into a multi-layered character that would've made Burgess Meredith proud. Riddler - as much of a smug little bastard as ever - is also well-acted and well-represented here, almost as if he stepped right out of the Arkham games, and the brief romance he had with Penguin was both genuinely unexpected and surprisingly heartwarming. Butch is a lovable goof, Ivy is more compelling here than she has been in some time, Mad Hatter is a credible threat for once, the Valeska brothers are appropriately sinister and twisted (though, as stand-ins for the Joker, they could stand to be funnier), Zsasz is a joy to watch, Mooney is an imposing character despite her stupid name, Hugo Strange is so despicable that it's fun to watch him getting fucked over by everyone, and Scarecrow and Firefly, if nothing else, look wicked cool. They're not all great, though; Mr. Freeze reminds me too much of the Schwarzenegger version for my liking, certain villains (NO SPOILERS) die before they can become Batman rogues, and the writers fall into the trap of making pre-Two Face Harvey Dent an asshole (much like Beware the Batman and Gotham by Gaslight), which makes it harder to believe him as a morally conflicted character.
I'm not going to pretend that the show isn't campy, pulpy, or outright goofy at times - it certainly is, and you know what? That's part of the show's charm, and it does a good job of balancing the campy stuff with elements that are genuinely dark and heavy. The Batman franchise in general - despite the popular focus on its dark elements - has always had campy elements to it (i.e. the Silver Age and the Adam West series), and the best Batman stories strike a great balance between serious and ridiculous elements. The Shumacher movies relied too heavily on the campy stuff, and (UNPOPULAR OPINION TIME) I always felt the Nolan trilogy tried too hard to be dark and serious by ignoring the sci-fi stuff (and, y'know, actual colors) that makes Batman stories so damned fun. Gotham, however, does a great (but far from perfect) job striking that balance.
In short, Gotham gets a modest recommendation from me. It has its flaws, but there are still plenty of reasons to watch.
Bullock! Finally a corrupt cop who isn't a villain. It's so rare to see cops on the take be anything other than mobsters with a badge. Added complexity is excellent.
Falcone! See above, re: complexity. Gordon's job is not going to be just "take out the bad guy"
Nygma! Not necessarily needed yet, but I can see a great arc for him, hopefully with a stop as a bizarre type of vigilante who investigates other's crime scenes and leaves clues rather than help for the cops.
Cobblepot! While psycho veiled in upper class is not my preferred Penguin interpretation, it was acted the hell out of!
Allen! Existence outside of comics at all = awesome, seems to have right characterization, too.
Barbara. hard to tell if acting was stiff or writing lacking, but if she is bound by canon to produce Barbara Jr. then we need to think of them as a decent couple who's marriage fails due to his marriage to the city, not one that should never have been. The Bi-the-way bit felt like pointless added drama.
Ivy. Not needed. This show should flee from meta-humans in general, and if she's something else, it still could have waited an episode or two.
Alfred. Full stop. Did anyone tell the actor that this character has some history worth reviewing?
Production. Okay, lighting was good, but composer needs to stop acting like every time Selina lands on something is momentous and if that under-the-chin cam from the foot-chase ever comes back a director is getting slapped upside the head. Pacing was good.
I admit I was ready to write this off sight unseen, but there is some hope for a good run. Things I'd like to see/have revealed: above Riddler vigilante. Selina and Bruce training together. Gordon ending up in MCU (dragging Bullock along) and learning not ALL cops are corrupt, the good ones are working VERY quietly. That comedian (revealed to be Joker or not) was spying for Falcone. Episodes without Bruce. Fish Mooney dying (she was very well played, but is obviously a nice Act 1 boss). Oswald learning to act for an excruciatingly slow rise to power. More non-significant character nods (Childless Flying Graysons, Hugo Strange, Dr. Arkham, whatever) not all need to be important to the plot. Harvey Dent starting out (very young) as a public defender.
I will watch next week. See you then!
Being a long-time fan of all things Batman, I was eager to see a live-action series taking place in that universe. Unfortunately, Gotham didn't live up to my expectations. In fact, it's barely a step above that Birds of Prey show that was on back around the time Smallville first landed.
It's a shame too, because so many elements of this show could have worked. You can see it in the mishandled jumble that is the first season. You get the sense that the creators probably had a mind to create something like The Wire meets the DC Universe. They fell very short.
Some elements work:
And the bad...
I can see why some would watch it for its gimmick and entertainment value, but it's not a great show by any stretch of the imagination. Of course, this type of show will probably get season after season on Fox.
Before I get into details, my feelings on the pilot episode...meh. I found it incredibly meh. Also, I am doing this review with just watching the pilot.
Good: I like most of the casting.
I actually liked Fish Mooney as a character (Only half a point though, because her name is incredibly awful.)
The scene with the comedian. I actually laughed at his joke and the possibility of him becoming the Joker has the perfect balance of Foreshadowing and Fauxshadowing that it seems interesting without being too heavy or odd with either outcome.
Fish Mooney's first scene is a good scene and nice character set-up.
Bad: The actors for Barbara, Bruce, and Alfred all just rubbed me the wrong way.
The idea that Joe Chill (Or whoever it is, I'm using Joe Chill as a filler name because he's the one who did it in the comics) killed the Wayne's because he was ordered to instead of it just being a random crime annoys me.
The names of Fish Mooney and Ivy Peppers. Fish Mooney is an incredibly stupid name, even if it turns out to not be a real name or something. And as most everyone has said, Ivy Peppers is a crappy name and utterly awful foreshadowing.
The scene with Edward Nygma. His first riddle actually seemed like something a normal persona would say, the second was immediately subverted, and after the third he was told he needed help. Apparently the creators don't understand that you have to actually use a running gag straight before you start playing with it.
The scene with Mario Peppers. It was stupid and just done to set up drama and show how eeeeeeeviiiiiil and corrupt the GCPD and Fish Mooney are.
I know that Harvey Bullock is supposed to be a corrupt cop, but he just came off as too corrupt to consider anything but a villain with the scene at the end. Isn't he supposed to still be likable despite being corrupt?
A minor thing, but shouldn't Renee Montoya be a kid still during the time frame of the show? Don't get me wrong, I like her, but usually she looks a few years younger than Bruce (Give or take. Ages can be a bit hard to pin down)so the fact she is an adult in a show where Bruce is a kid seems odd (And the fact the Latino lesbian is used despite it not making sense, it feels a bit forced just so they can have those minorities filled).
I am not a fan of police procedurals, and this feels like CSI: Gotham City.
I had my doubts, but it turned out to be relatively good. The large amount of foreshadowing slightly annoyed me, but mostly when it was highly unsubtle. The rest, eh. I didn't really like the Penguin's first scene. His other appearances won me over. Acting? Not a good judge of acting. Story? Great. Hooray for Mafia-esque elements and corrupt cops. I am excited for the rest. I hope it gets better. Final note: Not really a fan of Bruce.
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