Stars: Ben McKenzie, David Mazouz, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Zabryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee, Robin Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith
Writer: Bruno Heller, based on the DC Comics character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Director: Danny Cannon
Network: Fox, Mondays @ 8 PM
Original Airdate: September 22, 2014
Up until now, the DC comics universe on television has primarily been the province of The CW (and the WB before it) and animation. Now Fox brings forth GOTHAM, a series about the early days of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) as a brooding teenager, before he becomes Batman. Although that brief summation may bring to mind SMALLVILLE, GOTHAM actually feels more like it lives in the neighborhood of BOARDWALK EMPIRE and JUSTIFIED, with cool, quirky lawmen and colorful mobsters trading intelligently written barbs and bruising blows. It’s a show for viewers of (nearly) all ages, but it’s not aimed at kids.
We meet Bruce when he and his ultra-wealthy, very loving parents are accosted in an alley. The older Waynes are murdered by a partially seen gunman. Bruce is set on revenge, though he’s not yet sure how to get it. Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), new to the Gotham City police force, catches the case and insists on pursuing it, befriending Bruce in the process. All this is exasperating to Gordon’s new partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), whom Gordon characterizes, not without cause, as “lackadaisical.” Harvey is actually a wee bit on the corrupt side, which is not always a terrible thing, but playing both sides of the law can bring a cop too close to the seductive, lethal club owner Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).
We also meet Fish’s protégé Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor), a slippery young fellow, along with the watchful teen Selena Kyle (Camren Bicondova) and pun-loving morgue attendant Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), all names that will mean something to the cognoscenti, but woven easily into the larger picture.
Director Danny Cannon makes the GOTHAM pilot look like he had the budget of THE DARK KNIGHT at his disposal – it is noir beauty at its height. However, the visuals never bog down the story in terms of either pacing or mood. Yes, this is a dark world, but characters develop briskly and credibly and the banter soars.
At the center of the story is McKenzie’s Gordon, who will one day rise to be police commissioner. For now, he’s determined and principled, yet intelligent and human. McKenzie’s followers from SOUTHLAND will not be disappointed. Mazouz has the intensity of someone we can see growing up to be the Dark Knight. Bicondova moves well as Selena (she doesn’t get much to do in the pilot besides observe), Cory Michael Smith is fun as Nygma and Taylor adds a dimension of creepiness to Cobblepot that’s new for the character. As for Jada Pinkett Smith, she plays the femme fatale to the hilt.
Sean Pertwee as the Wayne family butler Alfred is something of a scene-stealer with his laconic sarcasm, but it’s Logue who almost walks off with the pilot. Dimensional, dangerous, jaded with just a hint of decency, his Harvey Bullock is the kind of cop that we might suppose his TERRIERS character Hank Dolworth used to be.
GOTHAM is a just about perfect mixture of film noir, police drama and adroit comic book adaptation. Admirers of any or all of these forms are advised to watch.
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Article:TV Review: GOTHAM – Season 1 – “Pilot” – Series Premiere