Aired on: FOX
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
As a Batman fan, I had mixed feelings about Gotham, the new FOX television series airing Monday, September 22, 2014 at 8pm EST. I was excited about what I had seen from promos regarding James Gordon, but dreaded the possibility that the powers that be would screw things up royally. I thought it was a good idea to delve into James Gordon's police detective past, a time that has received very little coverage in Batman comics. However, knowing that certain individuals like Selina Kyle, Penguin and other criminals that have appeared in Batman comics would be in the series worried me a bit. Would the show stay within the continuity of the comics? Then again, when do Batman comics ever stay within their own continuity?
In the pilot episode of Gotham, we meet newly appointed Gotham City Police Department Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Son of Gotham's former District Attorney, a war veteran and a good cop, Gordon has moralistic integrity, a rare trait among Gotham's "Finest." Teamed up with alcoholic veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Jim Gordon's first case turns out to be a doozy - the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
Despite Bullock's recommendations against the fact, Jim Gordon investigates the case with zeal, promising the Waynes' young son, Bruce (David Mazouz), witness to the murder, that justice will be served. After receiving a tip from local gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Gordon and Bullock prepare to arrest Mario Pepper (Daniel Stewart Sherman), a man described by his daughter Ivy (Clare Foley) as being "not nice." Things appear to be cut and dry in this case, but, as Detective James Gordon will soon learn, nothing is cut and dry in Gotham. What appears to be Gordon's shining glory as a new detective becomes a thorn in his side and pits him against Gotham's most powerful crime boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman).
There are quite a few regular players from the Batman comics in this series. Selina Kyle (Camron Bicondova), makes an appearance as a street thief with a fondness for cats and a growing obsession with the young Bruce Wayne after she witnesses his parents' murder. Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) is there to help pick up the pieces for his beloved charge. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), AKA: Penguin, actually works for Fish Mooney as one of her flunkies. There is a thought that a comedian performing for Fish Mooney may well be a very young Joker. Major Crimes Detectives Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) are quite interested in the Wayne case. Mario Pepper's daughter appears to be a very young Poison Ivy.
In an interesting twist, the powers that be decided that Edward Nigma (Cory Michael Smith), AKA: The Riddler, should be the GCPD's coroner. That's not the only twist in this show. There are bound to be some comments regarding the implied relationship between James' fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), and Detective Montoya. I loved the way they explained Penguin's walk. I also am enjoying not only this delve into Commissioner Gordon's early career, but Bruce Wayne's life as a child and the events that helped shape the man he would become.
Ben McKenzie makes for a very believable James Gordon and Jada Pinkett Smith shines as the new addition to the Batman storyline, Fish Mooney. I can tell that she's going to be one of those characters you love to hate, one minute refined and sexy, the next badass dangerous and brutally sexy. I know that comic book purists will have a hard time with some of the rearranging of the Batman storyline, such as the relationship between Montoya and Kean, the fact that Montoya is Harvey's partner in the comics, Selina Kyle's appearance in Bruce Wayne's early life and more. That being said, no one can argue the fact that Gotham is not a well-written, well-acted and incredibly interesting look at an era in the Batman saga we really don't see much of in the comics.
I found Gotham to be a unique and interesting take on the characters that Batman fans all know and love. I only hope that the rest of the series is as good as the pilot. As it stand now, I'll be tuning in to FOX every Monday for Gotham at 8pm EST, followed by Sleepy Hollow at 9pm.