‘Gotham’ – Pilot / 1.02 Selina Kyle

Site: http://www.fox.comThe Setup: The levels of fandom as they pertain to the Batman/Gotham mythos are about as varied as Christian Bale’s adaptations of an American accent.  So… very.  There are the classic comic book fans, the animated series fans, the Tim Burton fans, the Christopher Nolan fans, the Batman: Year One fans, and so on.  With each reimagining, multiple creative freedoms have been taken, thus making the term “Batman canon” somewhat ambiguous.  Here again with FOX’s new Batman prequel series, Gotham, showrunner Bruno Heller has rebuilt the Batman mythology piecemeal.  So prequel, okay, that’s kind of cool, but then again… Smallville.  What seems to set this series apart then is its protagonist, the small but bright beam of moral enlightenment within Gotham’s underbelly of corruption: Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie).  But by no means is this a one man show.  In fact, what could put some viewers off (while reeling others in) is the smorgasbord of Gotham characters and settings presented all at once in the Pilot.

The Basics: I won’t delve into the entire Batman mythology here for obvious reasons, but rather will touch upon the facts which I find to be most important for developing a singularly unique hour of weekly television without beating us over the head with the Batstick of nostalgia.  Jim Gordon has returned from serving in the Middle East and is a relatively young detective doing his first rounds in Gotham City, his childhood home. Gotham is a place so corrupt and wrought with criminal activity that every facet of the city just takes it as a given.  His appointed partner Harvey Bullock (not Dent) is a reckless, older, no-bullshit, morally sketchy veteran who is the obvious “bad cop” to Jim’s “good cop”.

When the Waynes are tragically killed by a mugger in a street alley, Harvey and Jim are called to the scene.  Jim strikes up a sympathetic bond with the young orphaned Bruce, as his own father died suddenly when Jim was Bruce’s age.  He vows to find who killed Bruce’s parents, and releases Bruce to the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth.  A teenage girl named Cat/Selina Kyle watches the mugging take place from a rooftop (here kitty kitty) and flees.  The detective’s investigation leads to an array of well-known characters, and one important newbie to Gotham as we know it, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) a “sadistic gangster boss and nightclub owner” according to FOX’s website.  One of her minions is a socially and physically awkward young man who does not appreciate being called a penguin, Oswald Cobblepot.  A few red herrings and physical altercations it becomes clear that Fish Mooney runs the city more than the police themselves, and only one man is above her, Gotham capo, Carmine Falcone.  There is a full on Italian mob aspect here that I found refreshing since the films have rarely if at all touched on that aspect of Gotham.  The existence of watchful anti-corruption eye of Detectives Mendoza and Allen of the CGPD’s Major Crime Unit leads me to believe (and hope!) that Gordon, and Bullock, may start to find themselves getting too wrapped up in the crime world (hello Donnie Brasco!) and that the MCU will be there to create tension and keep them accountable to doing the right thing.

What We Like:

  • Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as Gordon and Bullock. The actors are doing a spectacular job of working off one another and the story.
  • Gotham feels like Gotham.  It’s dark, the exteriors are gritty and the interiors are structured.
  • Camren Bicondova as a young Catwoman.  She really looks like a cat.
  • Jada Pinkett Smith’s voice.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Too many villians (without a Batman?). At this rate we may be itching for him by episode 6.
  • Some clunky dialogue and over-the-top exposition (i.e. the Waynes left a detailed set of instructions on how to raise Bruce should they not be around including not sending him to therapy?)
  • The women. They feel like they are written by men who don’t know how to write women. It didn’t pass the Bechdel test and IMDB tells me that there is not ONE female writer on the show’s writing staff.  Anyone else feel this way?
  • Could use a few more chuckles.  Joker, please?

What We Learned:

  • The Waynes left a detailed set of instructions on how to raise Bruce should they not be around.
  • Fish Mooney wants to overthrow Carmine Falcone. He’s aware, and she’s aware that he’s aware.
  • Oswald Cobblepot is going full-villain very quickly
  • Renee Mendoza and Barbara Keane have had a romantic and/or sexual affair
  • Selina Kyle believes her mother is still alive
  • Selina Kyle knows saw who killed the Waynes
  • Ed Nygma, forensic analyst for GCPD, really wants to be involved!
  • Arkum Asylum, a psychiatric correctional facility within Gotham City limits, has been closed and abandoned for 15 years
  • Jim Gordon does not use chopsticks.
  • There’s a dollmaker out for blood… or skin. Hide your kids.

What We Don’t Know:

  • Who is the Dollmaker and what did he want those kids for?
  • Who killed The Waynes?
  • Is Carmine Falcone good for Gotham?
  • How soon is Oswald Cobblepot planning his return to Gotham?

Should you watch it: Maybe. I have a 7 episode rule.  Too early to tell if these characters will continue to develop in less-than-obvious ways or if the show will stick to a more procedural-based format a la Sleepy Hollow.

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  1. […] that don’t hook me in instantly. Gotham has been one of these. I’ve mentioned here before how the series does not seem to have one female writer on board this season, and that the writing […]

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