Gotham: Season 1 Episode 1 Review

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Right…anybody who follows me on twitter is probably already aware about my thoughts on this.  For those who haven’t, they involved asking myself a lot of questions.  Questions that require a lot to answer for.  For those who don’t know, I would call myself a Batman fan.  I loved the Burton movies, the Nolan movies, the Arkham games, the animated TV show from the ’90s, the really good comics (including Year One, Earth One & The Long Halloween), and of course I do enjoy the terribly good ’60s Batman show with Adam West when it’s on.  But being a fan of Batman doesn’t involve liking everything that’s Batman.  In fact the true patriots of Batman rightfully point out when there are problems and when something with Batman’s name on it pure and simply sucks.

When I heard about Gotham and its synopsis, I liked the idea.  If anybody has ever read Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, you’ll know that Jim Gordon is a fascinating character – a good cop surrounded by scumbags in the police force, who begin to take their tole on him, and even darken him a few shades (prone to hypocrisy and adultery).  It affects his personal life, marriage/relationships, and his attempts at maintaining morality grow more and more difficult.  WIth that in mind, the idea of an origins story for Jim Gordon, a man wanting to do the right thing but has difficulty in pulling it off all the time, would be an excellent character study if it is left in good hands.  So, based on watching the first episode, what do I think of Gotham?  Well… On the surface, the story is quite simple – Detective Jim Gordon has great desire in finding the murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne, 2 of the richest people in Gotham.  This isn’t necessarily to receive any favours from the Wayne family, but rather he wants to help their son find peace, and know that justice has been served.  Thomas & Martha’s son?  Bruce Wayne, the Batman as a kid in primary school.  Jim and his partner Harvey Bullock (corrupt cop) then try to solve the murder, even if it’s only truth in public but not in private…something that Jim doesn’t want to settle with.

Gotham, for me…was a disappointment.  I wanted to like it, and I know there was a lot of fuss on how good it is.  90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and roughly 4 out of 5 from most people so far.  Boasting of high production values, a talented cast, and an appealing, stylised approach to the Batman mythos.  High production values?  Sure, it does look like money was well spent on the locations, set and CGI…but most of the time it’s far too bright!…Also where is all the dirt and litter?  Gotham is supposed to be 1 of the dirtiest, grimiest, grittiest, darkest cities in the USA.  Did it get cleaned up?  Is the Harvey Dent Act taking place in this era?  I know we’re used to seeing Gotham at night, sometimes with rain and sometimes with snow, and it helps achieve a film noir look…this doesn’t look very noir.  Needs more inspiration from Blade Runner, The Crow and Burton’s Batman.

A talented cast?  The cast is fine, some better than others.  But good acting doesn’t cover up bad writing.  The dialogue is terrible!  Well and truly terrible.  Nothing cool or unpredictable or funny or clever has been said throughout the whole 40-45 minutes.  It’s as if they were targeting people who don’t watch TV, or haven’t heard every cliche line under the sun.  Trust me when I say, there is nothing to quote from this show that you could say and people would know where it came from…or at least this episode.  Nothing!  *sigh*

“Appealing, stylised approach to the Batman mythos”…Are we talking about this 1st episode, or does it actually start to get good a few episodes in?  I’m aware that the 1st episode, and even the 1st season of a show, will not always leave the best impression of how good a show can get later on.  Everyone who saw Bones knows how terrible the 1st episode was, and anybody who watches Buffy, Family Guy, South Park or The Simpsons, knows that Season 1 is not the strongest season by any means.

Instead of introducing us with a few characters at first, and then gradually build up the cast, we instead get 5 Batman villains (4 of them very well known) appearing within this 1st episode.  “Catwoman” Selina Kyle appears as a mid-teen girl, and looks at least 5 years older than Bruce.  A primary assumption is that she may or may not grow beyond the skill that’s already present (She’s already an established thief at this point), so they might be hoping to focus on her relationships instead.  Penguin is portrayed as a young, low-rank gangster who snitches and back-stabs his way to the top.  Poison Ivy is a young girl who just lost her Dad unjustly, and for some reason, The Riddler is working for the police.  Then you have Carmine Falcone, the Italian mob boss who basically has everybody in his pockets…except for Jim Gordon of course.  One thing they’re really trying to build up though…is the appearance of The Joker…and I’m almost terrified as to how they’ll approach this.  Is there a perfect Joker?  In a way, yes.  He’s presented brilliantly by Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger.  Who is possibly going to even top that?  Or be among the ranks?

Despite how unfortunate this 1st episode was, I’m hoping it will get better, and even pleasantly surprise me.  Is there anything else I need to say?  Yes, they pull guns out of thin air and the fight scenes make Walker: Texas Ranger look like Jackie Chan.  I hope that Jada Pinkett Smith’s kids don’t appear in this (We know, you and Will are giving them opportunities, and The Pursuit Of Happiness was really good, but then After Earth came out and killed all interest for the time being), and once again, the cliches!  (Like good art, anything borrowed needs to be masked well enough to be called its own…the cliches in this might as well come out and say hello).

I’ll watch a few more episodes.  If it doesn’t get better, I’ll be stopping.  If that happens, and then I hear it gets really good, then sure, I’ll take it up again and have a look.  Until then, if I were to compare this to Agents Of SHIELD’s 1st episode, there is no comparison, AOS is the superior show.

Overall Rating (so far): ** out of 5

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