The pilot episode (titled only “Pilot”) of Gotham premiered on UK television (Channel 5) last Monday, 13th October at 9pm. It’s been getting some good reviews on the internet, and I was really looking forward to seeing the first episode. So what did I think of it?
Overall, not bad. Not bad at all. I’d give it a 7/10. I liked it enough that I’m really looking forward to the second episode tonight. The series is developed and written by Bruno Heller, the same guy behind hit series The Mentalist and Rome, so it certainly has some good pedigree behind it. I like Heller’s other shows, so this bodes well for Gotham, and it is definitely in good hands.
The interesting thing about Gotham is that it is set in the Batman Universe, but it’s not actually about Batman, although it does focus on the events, characters and background that lead up to the later Batman Universe which we’re all familiar with. You’d expect to see heroes and villains from the comic books and earlier television series and films, but Gotham is actually a (fairly) straightforward cop/crime series (at least so far), with no Batman or other comic book fantasy characters in sight. But we do see signs of things to come, with much younger versions of characters who will later become the hero and villains that we recognize from the familiar Batman Universe – the young pre-Batman Bruce Wayne and his butler, Alfred Pennyworth, Oswald Cobblepot/the Penguin, Edward Nygma/the Riddler, Harvey Dent/Two-Face, Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy.
The Pilot episode opens up with the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha, and the attempts of central characters Detectives James Gordon and Harvey Bullock to track down the killer. We also meet many of the individuals who would’ve featured more as background characters in other tellings of the beginning of the Bruce Wayne/Batman story. As such, I was pleased to see many of the everyday/non fantasy characters from the pre-Batman Gotham universe taking centre stage and becoming the primary focus of the series. To be honest, I’ve always been a far greater fan of the Marvel Universe rather than DC, and I’ve never exactly been a huge fan of Batman in the comics (although I do enjoy the films). But I got a nice kick recognizing background characters from Batman: Year One and the various other comic book stories and films, such as Mafia Don Carmine Falcone, Renee Montoya and a few others.
The stand-out roles for me in this first episode were Ben McKenzie, as the rookie Detective James Gordon, and Donal Logue as his senior partner, Detective Harvey Bullock. Logue, in particular, really shines as the world-weary, cynical and corrupt, bordering on amoral older detective. Sean Pertwee also promises to be a real gas as Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth, and Jada Pinkett Smith excels as the sadistic, vicious and near-psychotic Fish Mooney, Falcone’s treacherous subordinate, who plans to make a move on him.
But, to my surprise, another one of my favourite characters in the episode was Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot. He’s a real psycho, and I look forward to watching him develop, and maybe even get around to exacting his revenge on Mooney and the others who turned on him. I find my liking for this particular character quite ironic, as I could never stand the Penguin as a character in either the comics or the films.
Anyway, roll on 9pm tonight, and the second episode, “Selina Kyle”. I hope it’s as good as the pilot episode.