Saturday, September 27, 2014

New TV Show Mini Review: Gotham

What makes Gotham work is that it makes something so familiar seem so fresh.

The story begins as we watch a young Selina Kyle pickpocketing her way through the streets of Gotham and happening upon the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  This is a scene we've seen several times in movies, TV, and comics.  But the scene played like new.  I felt a sense of danger and possibility that I hadn't expected.

But what else makes the show work are the actors.  Ben MacKenzie is fantastic as Jim Gordon.  He is so full of righteous rage as the one good cop in the bad city.  He has yet to be pounded down by the corruption all around him.  And Donal Logue is fantastic as Gordon's partner Harvey Bullock.  Logue has a lot of wonderful contradictory traits.  He is ambivalent and yet sensitive.  He is corrupt but he has some sense of code.  He is a coward but he stands up when he thinks its necessary.   I love the fact that I cannot tell whether Bullock is going to be Gordon's main ally or adversary.

A lot of attention has been played to the different Batman-universe characters that popped up during the pilot like Penguin, Riddler, and Poison Ivy.  And that is all fine.  But the real drama is from the more grounded characters like Gordon, Bullock, and crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Doman).  Falcone brings not only some interesting back story, but he alludes to all the shades of gray that a black and white guy like Gordon has trouble navigating.

It also leads to some wonderful moral dilemmas that we find in stories like this.  How far do you go in bending the law until it breaks?  What moral line are you willing to cross for the people you love?  Can you pretend to be something you are not?  Gordon wants to be a good cop but he doesn't know what to do or how to do it.

The filming is wonderfully dark and moody.  Even in the nicest parts, Gotham does not seem like an enjoyable place to live.  It is dark and dank, even in the day.

I think if the show concentrates on the more real-world threats that face Gordon and his companions, this show will soar.

4 out of 5 stars.



  1. Given the age of young Master Bruce, even a young Ms. Kyle is several years older. It seems that all of Batman's foes and friends will be older. Does that work? That's my main problem with Gotham.

    1. I think it works out okay. The only older adversaries we've encountered so far are the Penguin and the Riddler. And for Batman they are less physical threats and more cerebral ones. So the age difference shouldn't matter. Whereas Selina and Ivy are around his age. I wonder what baby Bane would look like?

    2. After watching the 2nd episode, I agree. I thought Selina was an older teen, but she is about Bruce's age. Maybe baby bane would have a pacifier that looked like his adult mask!