With the continuous onslaught of new superhero television shows, movies, and/or whole cinematic universes, it’s easy to allow a few items here or there slip through the cracks of my attention. It’s true, in my case anyway, that I spent less time looking forward to this series than I did most other comic-related media since the show’s initial announcement. And for the most part this pilot delivered just as well I had always imagined it would – an extremely good concept, but will revel too much under its own mythos, weighing the script down a tad.
Gotham is the idea that a comic-based show doesn’t actually need a superhero at its head, not yet anyway, but just a regular hero. Set while Bruce Wayne, the eventual Batman, is still a youth, the protagonist of the series is none other that Detective James “Jim” Gordon, thrust into a city rusted through to the core – where crime runs rampant, the police are crooked, and it always seems to be nighttime. To run the show as both a superhero origin story done the long way round and a cop procedural in a fictional (yet strangely New Yorkish) city is a darn good idea. The crime, evolution of classic Batman villains, gang wars with Falcone, etc. sets the series’ writers up with plenty ado.
And plenty was introduced in this Pilot – a plethora of plot points to delve into, many avenues of diversion to drift off in. But if there was one thing laid on too thick, it’d definitely be the abundance of your classic villains. We get no subtle name drops here, everything is laid out clear as day (or night, since its Gotham and all). Oh, she’s going to be Catwoman. Right, they tease him with the name Penguin. That girl there, hiding behind the ivy – oh right, her name is Ivy Pepper. This guy is laying down riddles better than he does his day job. Right. Already we’ve been given too much to chew. Let alone the absolutely terrible tease that that guy telling all the jokes on stage could potentially be… Nah, I doubt it. This pilot indulges too heavily on itself in this respect for me to really enjoy what it’s offering. And strangest of all, the villain most effectively used is Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Fish Mooney,” a character created specifically for this series (but reports claim she may turn out to be a real bat-villain somewhere down the line).
But despite the rather obvious Easter eggs, the pilot is exceptionally solid. James Gordon may be too stone faced, and one-sided thus far, but I can tell I’m really going to like the character in the long run. It’s appropriate that Gordon is spotlighted so, as he’s been around as long as the Bat himself, first appearing in Detective Comics #27 (also the first outing for Batman). I was very surprised at how well his partner, the crooked cop Harvey Bullock, was portrayed. Although certainly not a good guy, he seems to have his soft spots, which I look forward to the show expanding on. I did find it a little odd that in this iteration of the story he’s getting married to Barbara Gordon (or will-be-Gordon). In most (if not all previous Batman timelines), Barbara Gordon, the eventual Batgirl/Oracle, is his daughter, or adopted daughter. I guess for the direction they want their show going in they need a vigilante posthaste, so they bumped her age and station up a notch.
Certain other characters such as Oswald Cobblepot and Selina Kyle I’m definitely looking forward to. Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal of the soon-to-be Penguin is already so creepy. He’s got the look, and the maniacal manner down pat, but I have a feeling he’ll continue to ooze evil. Camren Bicondova, the actress who’ll be playing the young Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman – but Kittengirl for now) is strikingly perfect for the role, with her leather jacket, tousled hair, and $20 etsy steampunk goggles. I expect we’ll get a huge glimpse of her in next weeks episode entitled “Selina Kyle.” Sean Pertwee (son of the Pertwee) didn’t sit quite as well with me, being a much more harsh version of Alfred Pennyworth than we’re used to. But perhaps that’s just my initial grasp of the character, and he needs some room for development.
Overall, I’m really looking forward to the series. The script was done far better than The Flash pilot – in regards to the dialogue anyway. The thugs may be slightly too giddy to take seriously at times, but it makes for an entertaining hour of television. And despite the many MANY “easter eggs” lying in plain site, it didn’t hamper my enjoyment. Move over Arrow, there may be a better origin story brewing.