As the tagline of the show goes – Before Batman, there was Gotham. Out of all the comic book heroes that exist, Batman has always been my favourite and so I’ve been looking forward to the start of this latest American television import to arrive here in the UK.
Gotham follows in the recent footsteps of a string of television series based on the Marvel and DC Comic worlds, with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (which I could not get in to for some reason) and Arrow (which I thoroughly enjoy) finding success and The Flash about to start. As the title and tagline suggest, Gotham tells the story of Gotham City in the years before Batman, with episode one introducing us to the Gotham PD and its criminal elements.
Leading the show is Ben Mackenzie (of The O.C and Southland fame) as newly promoted Detective James Gordon (I sense he’ll go far…!), who with his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) investigate the criminal underworld of Gotham. Batman may not yet exist but the building blocks are laid in this first episode as Detective Gordon makes a promise to a young Bruce Wayne to solve his parents’ murder, which is the key investigation in the series opener. Beginning with such an obvious crime makes perfect sense and it’s lovely to see the young Bruce and Gordon together, knowing how important to each other they will become in years to come.
Over the hour we also meet some other familiar characters, who will no doubt each get their moment to shine later in the series. There’s the young female thief feeding stray cats, the young girl called Ivy who seems to have a passion for plants, the young E. Nygma and the awkward young Oswald who hates being called by his nickname Penguin. As with Arrow, it’s great to watch these iconic characters in their early years, allowing a fresh perspective on the familiar dark and shady city of Gotham.
The production values on this series opener were very good. The Gotham we are introduced to is dark, moody and dangerous and the direction and locations enhance this tone. The acting is also very good, with Ben Mackenzie more than capable of being a convincing Gordon, who the audience can root for. His determination to clean up the corruption of the city is certainly admirable and something we all know he’ll be doing for some time to come and I certainly found him to be a strong lead for a new series. He also has a good chemistry with Donal Logue’s character and it will be interesting to see how this develops.
Sean Pertwee also appears as Alfred the butler and I’m curious to see how much we’ll see of him during Bruce’s young childhood years. There may be recognisable characters here, but there is also the introduction of new players in to the world of Gotham, none more so than Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney. She’s feisty and not to be trifled with and is a character I look forward to seeing more of over the series. I also found this first episode to be well-paced and engaging, leaving me very much looking forward to the next episode.
Time will tell whether the series manages to generate sufficient ratings success to survive the tough American market, but I for one hope it continues as this is certainly a promising start.
The trailer for Gotham can be seen here: http://www.channel5.com/shows/gotham/clips/gotham-episode-one-trailer and Gotham continues on Channel 5 in the UK on Monday nights at 9 p.m. Catch up with Episode 1 on Demand 5 online here: http://www.channel5.com/shows/gotham/episodes/pilot-23