Friday, September 26, 2014
We had the first big premiere of the TV season with Gotham this week. For those who don't know, Gotham is based in (of course) Gotham City of DC Comics fame, and it's the story of Detective (and later Commissioner) James Gordon as he starts his career in the Gotham City Police Department and the years that lead up to a certain costumed vigilante suiting up and taking to the streets at night to take the city's criminal element. The other hook to the show is that it features many of Gotham's most famous characters in their younger days, namely Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin), and Edward Nygma (Riddler). There's also going to be an ongoing guessing game of sorts over the course of the series as we're presented with several men who may be the one that goes on the become the Joker. An important thing to know going in is that this is not a Batman series. Do not, do not, watch this show wondering 'when is Bruce Wayne going to become Batman?' because you're not going to get that. As with Agents of Shield, this show is about the people who work around all of that business. If you want to see a good montage of Bruce working his way to becoming Batman, go watch Batman Begins.
Now on to this show. We open with Gordon getting his pocket picked by a young girl who likes to feed stray cats. We then move to the Gotham police station and Gordon talking down a criminal who grabbed a gun inside the police station, and meeting his new partner Harvey Bullock immediately afterward. Bullock proceeds to ask Jim why he didn't just shoot the guy instead of bringing him down alive. This is the jumping off point for how we're going to be shown the contrast between the idealistic Gordon and everyone else he works with. Bullock is a veteran of the force, and has grown hard and cynical over time, as he and Gordon patrol the streets we come to see that Bullock is a pretty morally compromised character as well. The plot of the show pilot revolves around that fateful night where Bruce and his parents were walking down the alley and were robbed, resulting in his parents murder. After meeting young Bruce and promising to find the killer, Gordon and Bullock go out to do just that. And that's when the real fun starts, as Bullock introduces Gordon to the Gotham underworld and we meet one Fish Mooney (played by Jada Pinkett Smith).
Mooney is a mid level crime boss, with her own set of minions (one of whom is Cobblepot) but who is also a subordinate of Carmine Falcone. Mooney owns every scene she's in, to the point where there were a lot of live Tweeters calling for her to become more than a new character created for the show. Depending on how her character works over the course of the season, she could be following in the footsteps of Harley Quinn and John Diggle from Arrow, television characters who made their way to comic books. Mooney, trading information in return for the police looking away, points them towards a random Gotham criminal (who also happens to be the father of the future Poison Ivy) who they take down and find Mrs. Wayne's necklace on. The case appears closed and the two are hailed as heroes, but of course it's too good to be true. Bullock's ready to let things lie as they are but Gordon wants to press on. That ultimately put him and Bullock at odds with Mooney, and almost gets both of them killed. I'm not going to give all the details of everything in the episode; go watch it!
I loved this one. I agreed with the praise for Mooney; she'd make a great print character and foil for either the Dark Knight, the police, or Catwoman. Hopefully when her time is up on the show she'll go into some kind of exile and not get whacked. I thought the casting was great all around. Even young Bruce Wayne had won me over by the end of the show. Gotham and it's corruption were put on full display, and the moral compromise Gordon has to make at the end in order to survive is the first of many that will take him from an idealistic believer in right and wrong to a man who is eventually willing to form an allegiance with a vigilante who operates on the outskirts of the law and his cohorts in order to do his job. Complaints? I don't have any, but I heard what is becoming a recurring thing with these shows and movies - the 'too many characters' beef. Never mind that many of the ones we saw here were only onscreen for a few minutes (Gordon's fiancee, young Bruce, Alfred) or seconds (Nygma, Falcone); some people have found their quick and easy problem and they're sticking to it. But don't mind them. This show's a keeper so enjoy it and let's see where it goes.