Howdy ladies and gents, with my recent look at how season 2 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going, I thought I would pass continue this semi-review style with another comic book show, Gotham. Now at first I was sceptical about there being a prequel TV to the Batman era of Gotham city, but when the early episodes had positive reviews I thought I’d give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
The plot for the show is pretty good as it has a main overarching storyline but also has individual stories that develop the characters and expands the world of Gotham. We get tales of murder, kidnapping, drug-related incidents and corruption with the police, government and criminal underworld and it works well because the stories are pretty interesting and engaging with good dialogue and character moments. The cool thing about this show is that it is a show that exists within the world of Batman, but is able to function without the dark knight himself, instead what we are given in the origin stories of these key characters before they become the iconic people that we all know and love, and while some of these starting points seem a bit bizarre for comic book fans, after a while you start to see certain things unfold that give you an idea of where these characters will go in the future. Another great aspect of Gotham is the fact that it plays out like your typical police drama, it has all the basic codes and conventions, but enough unique plot elements and characters that it works in its own way. The only thing that concerns me is how long will the show be able to function in this pre-Batman era of Gotham before it gets dull? I’m not saying that there aren’t possibilities, but I assume there will have to be some kind of time skip if the show is to continue into a second and/or third season.
When it comes to the tone of this show it is very mature and doesn’t hide away from the very adult problems that reside within Gotham. You have violence, murder, prostitutes and while it’s not 15 rated material, it definitely feels like it’s edging in that direction. I just like how adult the show is, it doesn’t shy away from the problems within the Gotham city police department, the dodgy feelings with crime bosses and politics, and just one the streets of the city itself.
But what is a good story and tone without a good cast? Luckily this show has a great cast and the good thing is that everyone is relevant, but there are certainly some stand-out performances.
Firstly there’s Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, at first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like McKenzie as Gordon, but now I really like him. This young version of Gordon is fresh on the scene and believes in justice, however starts to realise that the traditional means of police work does not apply Gotham. What you have to appreciate about this guy is that he’s righteous, tenacious and willing to do whatever it takes to get justice. Someone who is just as impressive is Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, he’s Gordon’s partner, he been in the police game longer than Gordon and is already corrupt. He’s a dodgy detective who has very questionable morals and ethics and doesn’t really adhere to the proper ways of police work, however the guy is really funny and engaging. David Mazouz is decent as Bruce Wayne, in this show we see the early days of Wayne after his parents are murdered and how starts to start conquering fear and getting into detective work. While it is interesting to see this what young Bruce is up to, sometimes I feel like his appearance is shoe-horned in and not as interesting as other character stories. Also Sean Pertwee is a very interesting and different as Alfred Pennyworth, this version of Bruce’s butler has more a cockney accent which was the biggest thing I had to get over, but other than that he’s fine.
Robin Lord Taylor is the really the star of this show as Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot. At first I wasn’t sure if this character would be that engaging but now I LOVE him. He’s an underling with big ambitions and the gift of the gab and slowly but surely starts to show his true nature and my god, the stuff this guy gets up to is nothing short of captivating. He’s smart, cunning and calculated and to see him go from strength to strength is utterly fascinating and it helps that Taylor is such a fine actor. Jada Pinkett Smith is just incredible as Fish Mooney, this is a woman who is as elegant as she is deadly. She’s a powerful woman in the criminal world who has many connections and she works under Don Falcone, however wants to take him out because like more gangsters, she’s greedy. Smith has been in such an engaging role in years, but I’m loving her charisma. John Doman is good as Carmine Falcone, this man is respected but also feared, and has many connections throughout the city. And while he’s old and looking to be taken out by certain other parties, he’s not stupid, he’s pretty cunning and knows how to stay ahead of his enemies. And finally there’s David Zayas who is awesome as Salvatore Maroni, he’s the leader of his own crime family and is an opposing force to Falcone. This is a man who is very funny, larger-than-life and smiley, however he has a big temper, doesn’t like to lose and wants more from the city of Gotham. Camren Bicondova is good as Selina “Cat” Kyle, she witnesses the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne and now has a connection with James Gordon and Wayne manner. Selina, while not the perfected thief, is good at stealing, acrobatics and hiding in plain sight and Bicondova is quite pleasant and amusing in the role. Cory Michael Smith is cool as Edward Nygma, his involvement in the show is small working for the police department as a coroner and forensics operative, but when he is on-screen he’s so fun.
One thing that really helps this show is the production values, visually this show depicts Gotham as this dark, dreary and dirty city with a lot of shadows, muted colours and lovely cinematography. This is probably the best-looking version of Gotham City since Tim Burton’s Batman back in 1989, this version of the famous city has a look and style to it that’s unique and feels like a solid adaptation of the comic book source material. One of my main issues with the Christopher Nolan films is that after Batman Begins, Gotham lost its unique style and turned into generic-looking city with no style or substance, but this is not the case with this show, it looks great.
In conclusion Gotham is some really good stuff. It is a show not bound by its source material and can stand on its own feet with its original stories and nice interpretations of what we’ve come to expect from the Batman mythos. Only time will tell whether this show will be able to keep up this momentum, but so far so good, Can’t wait to see how things turn out at the end of this season.
So have you been watching Gotham and if so what do you think? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to drop them in the comments below and I’ll see you on the next review, laters! 😀