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Monday, September 22, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Gotham

GOTHAM












Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Zebryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith

Based on the Characters by DC Comics
Developed by Bruno Heller
Written by Bruno Heller, Directed by Danny Cannon

THE PREMISE: Gotham is a Batman origin story set in one of the most famous fictional cities of all time. The show chronicles the rise of Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his connection to young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), whose parents are killed. With his partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Gordon learns firsthand about the extensive corruption in the city. The series also chronicles the rise of Batman villains: Osward Cobblepot/Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Edward Nygma/Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Camren Bicondova). Rounding out the main cast is Wayne's caretaker, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), Gordon's boss Sarah Essen (Zebryna Guevara), and Wayne's girlfriend Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). A brand new character not used in the comic books is crime boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).

THE GOOD: I loved almost everything about the Gotham pilot. It so perfectly captured the dark corruption and feel to the dreary city. The stylized "look" to the show was essential here and it was incredibly important to evoke that from the beginning, which they did. There were some beautiful exterior shots of the city. Ben McKenzie is understated but strong as James Gordon and Donal Logue is also quite a force as Harvey Bullock. The real stars here though are the villains (both current and future ones). Robin Lord Taylor nearly stole the pilot with his perfect depiction of a young Penguin while the brief glimpses of the people who would become Catwoman and the Riddler were a good enough tease to be interesting. Jada Pinkett Smith was excellent as Fish Mooney and it's cool to have a character who is completely new to the show. Despite knowing what's going to happen to most of these characters, it was still interesting and exciting. If anything, it makes the origin story more interesting because it allows us to look for hints of things to come. The pilot threw a lot at us, but I thought it was very coherent and well put together.

THE BAD: I'm struggling to come up with much of anything for this section. They did throw a lot of balls up in the air so I hope the storytelling is as tight as it was in the pilot in episodes to come. I think they have to be a little bit careful with the Catwoman character. More than any other Batman villain, people seem to have a strong opinion of how she should be played perhaps thanks to people like Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer. They have to be careful to not just have her leaping around buildings and being mysterious all the time. Either tease her ever so slightly or evolve her into more of a character.

BOTTOM LINE: Gotham was my most anticipated fall show and it did not disappoint. With so many fascinating stories to tell, strong performances, and the most visually appealing look on any new show in a while, I can't wait for Mondays this fall. I'm not even a comic book fan but I am a Batman fan and this is satisfying to Batman fans while giving it a new twist. I'll be back next week at the same Bat time and same Bat channel.

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