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Guest Review – Gotham Pilot Episode

by James Murray

The long-awaited Gotham premiered Monday night on FOX. If the first episode is any indication, Gotham is a must-watch show for the new television season.

Gotham is about Gotham City years before the arrival of Batman. (The alternate title Bruce Wayne’s World would be too confusing.) The show features a very young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), several Gotham City detectives, and a variety of familiar Batman villains.

The first episode centers on Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), who is an idealistic Gotham City Police Department detective investigating the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Gordon’s reluctant partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) spends much of the episode explaining to Gordon that working with the wrong side of the law is sometimes necessary. The conflict between these two characters is an entertaining optimist and pessimist dichotomy.

The pilot shows a number of Batman villains’ origins, including the Penguin, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and possibly the Joker. An interesting new character is mob middle manager Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). Mooney is calm, collected, and menacing. Some of the dialogue in the show was odd or expository, but Mooney had some good lines. “You have a little danger in your eye.”

Not everything in the show makes sense. Catwoman is a little girl who lives on the street and steals to make ends meet (she stole a mostly empty carton of milk from some lady who just bought it). However, she spends much of the episode hiding behind things and watching the action, such as hiding at the Waynes’ seemingly public funeral. Hopefully this character will get more meaningful screen time in future episodes.

In general, Gotham has more strengths than weaknesses. The acting is solid, the setting is gritty, and there is just enough action to keep you on your toes. There’s something here to enjoy for police procedural and Batman fans alike. The show reminds me of FX’s The Shield, except with a lot more Vic Mackeys at every level. I recommend that you give Gotham a shot.

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