Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WE GET IT, IT'S A BATMAN REFERENCE!: Review for Gotham season 1 part 1 with *SPOILERS*

I'm going to say this right now. I like this show. I really do. But like any other show, this has flaws, big, small and sometimes REALLY FREAKING ANNOYING! It constantly tries to remind you that its a show in the Batman universe. Edward Nygma doesn't need to constantly be spewing riddles right out the gate. You didn't need to rename the creepy girl with the plants Ivy. HOW CAN YOU GET A NAME LIKE CAT FROM SELINA! So why did I keep coming back to the show? The answer is that I believe that one of the most interesting things about Batman's stories isn't about Batman, but of the city he protects. Gotham City is one of, if not, the most iconic comic book cities of all time. If you actually think of the amount of heroes and villains that actually preside in the city, you'd be surprised that there wasn't a series sooner. Despite it being a cesspool of crime, we tend to forget there is some good in a citizen or two, including James Gordon. It seems like a great idea to center a show around the origins of such characters both good and bad, even if it doesn't have a vigilante wearing a bat suit. So does FOX's new crime drama feel like it's a part of the Gotham mythos, or just an attempt to cash out on "bat-fame".  In all honesty, it's  a little of both. Join me as I give my review of the series Gotham so far.

So just like my other reviews, There will be spoilers littered throughout the review!


The First Dynamic Duo
So the series revolves around the early years of James Gordon in the GCPD before he was commissioner with his partner Harvey Bullock. They solve crimes just like any other pairs of cops until they are called to the scene of a mugging. Two dead, leaving the child. If this sounds familiar, then you know it's the Waynes. Gordon promises the young Bruce he will find the man who killed his parents. While he tries to solve that crime in the overarching story, he solves other crimes, meeting mobsters like Oswald Cobblepot, better known as The Penguin, Carmine Falcone, and new original character Fish Mooney(played by Jada Pinkett Smith). Gordon keeps in contact with Bruce and his butler, Alfred Pennyworth, but also meets with a young thief about Bruce's age named Selina Kyle or Cat to her friends(though she doesn't own a cat or have cat in her name and she just keeps nailing that name in.). He also is under investigation from Internal Affairs investigators Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya(who I'm surprised to see not on Gordon's side for once.)

Acting for the most part is pretty good when it comes to most of the cast. Ben McKenzie does a pretty good job as the leading man and I love his teamwork with Donal Logue's Bullock(who has some of the best moments of the series thus far).  McKenzie definitely portrays a young Jim Gordon well, though in all honesty he might be a tad to forceful too soon. What I mean by that is when we see Gordon in all these year one stories for him, he may have not agreed with what he was doing, but he still did it because he's new. It took him years to clean the plague, but in all honesty as I type these words I can see how boring the show would be if Gordon wasn't as headstrong. Another pair of shining stars in the cast is actually David Mazouz, who plays young Bruce Wayne, and Sean Pertwee, who plays Alfred. Though Bruce might be a little TOO detective at this point in time, the actor who plays him does a very good job portraying not only the detective he'll become, but more so the fact he's still a child. He has these moments where you remember "Yes, he's a kid," instead of "He will be the hero Gotham deserves." An example of this is when he and Selina Kyle get into a food fight in episode 10(Harvey Dent). They aren't doing a Cat/Bat flirty banter or an angry Bruce seeking justice for the roll that hit him. It's two kids laughing and having fun. Even Alfred finally understands he's a child in that scene and children need friends, like Selina. AND SPEAKING OF ALFRED! Once again casting directors found ANOTHER good Alfred. Whenever I think back to any bat-media, the character who always seems perfectly cast is Alfred. From Alan Napier's(Batman 66') witty fencing confidant, to Micheal Gough's (Keaton to Clooney films) father-like emotional rock, to Micheal
Caine's funny but also endearing partner, the Pennyworths have always had one of the best parts in it all, and Pertwee's portrayal is no exception. Unlike most Alfreds, Pertwee is more gruff and protective of his ward than most(as expected as he is still a child), and he has more than a cane to fence with. They have made it clear our man Alfred was a marine, able to dispatch assassins with ease and showing no fear when arriving to speak to Fish Mooney. While it's no surprise to me, it was certainly a surprise to a non-comic reader. Remember criminals, don't mess with a butler, he will probably kick you to the curb.

Enough of the heroes, let's talk villains! Just like most crime dramas, each week we get a new villain that our heroes will be able to put away at the end of the day. The difference between most crime dramas and Gotham? The villains in Gotham tend to have a bit more comic book in their veins. Would you see a man get killed by having the float away by weather balloons in CSI? Or have a man able to lift ATMs like it's bicep day at the gym in NCIS? If your answers are yes, then I haven't watched those episodes then! There are some great weekly crimes that need to be solved, with some creepy villains, but then there are some that make me go "Well that wasn't good..." An example of a good criminal that kept me guessing was the Spirit of the Goat, a psychotic killer aiming for the heiresses of the Gotham Elite. I liked this because you had no idea what was coming, and it seemed so supernatural(perfect as it was the week of Halloween) until your blown away by the twist. An example of one of the "Well that wasn't good..." villains, and I might get some flak for this, was
Victor Zsasz. Victor isn't supposed to be a hitman, he is supposed to be a legitimate psychopath, someone the mob would gladly put away or put down if he got too out of control. It might just be its very early on in his career and the show. I can see it play out if Gordon is able to take him down from killing a victim he's been pursuing all episode, and THEN he snaps. For now though, Zsasz is the one villain who disappointed me. However I think the stand out role of villains(granted anyone who has seen the show agrees) is The Penguin. Every week I really came more to see what underhanded ploys this limping genius would pull. This might just be me, but I see a bit of all penguins in Robin Lord Taylor's portrayal. From Burgess' cleverness to these moments of creepiness or "HOLY S#!%" that you would only see in Danny DeVeto's portrayal of the character. Both lovers and haters of the show say that this character might be the best the show has.

The overarching story of this crime drama is Jim Gordon trying to find the killer of the Waynes. Now  this seems like a bit of a misstep to me. Most stories have Joe Chill get away or never named, best representing the randomness of crime. In this show, they haven't named the shooter, but so far it looks like Mr. Mugger looks more like Mr. Hitman. Do I think its necessary to make him a mugger? No, not at all. I respect this is a different interpretation then what I expected. In fact, there are some implications(though very muddled) that there is something HIGHER than the mobs of Gotham...but WHOOOOO? We'll just need to find out when the show continues. Unfortunately we need to deal with the fact that this show is a prequel, and that means all of Gordon's efforts are for naught, to us at least. We know he won't catch the killer, or stop the corruption of the mob, heck even put away criminals for good. If he was able to do any of that, why would we need a Batman in the future? matter the media
Always caring...
Besides the crimes Gordon is going around solving, we see young Bruce slowly become the hero he is destined to become, albeit many years beforehand. We see him learning to conquer fear the way most boy's do. Stand on top of roof tops and sticking their hands over burning fires. What? No one else does that? Well maybe not, but these side stories involving Bruce give character development in the best way possible. It also helps set up future villains in a not so obvious way. For example, Bruce gets bullied by a kid named Tommy. We learn later in the episode his full name is Tommy Elliot(or HUSH), giving a nice subtle Easter egg over the usual obvious ones. These stories also usually show the bond between Bruce and Alfred. In the mid season finale, while on the run from assassins, the only thing he wants to do is get to a phone and call Alfred. He doesn't care about his own well being, just the only family he has left. A few weeks ago Jim Werner, one of the main writers here at Weird Science, showed a variant cover of a tired Bruce and Alfred. It best shows that even though they aren't related by blood, Alfred and Bruce are family, and I enjoy those moments in the show.

As I said in the character section, each week there is a new crime to go along with the overarching stories. This is where I believe the show actually does shine. I watch this show, and though I know these characters are in the comics, it still feels like a Crime Drama. That was the biggest fear for me when I first started watching. I was afraid that they would be too comic-like in their approach, but thankfully(despite the very obvious batman references) it feels like an everyday crime drama. Sure, the crimes might be a little out of this world from time to time(looking at you Viper drug), but for every out-of-this-world crime, there is a crime you would see on a regular crime drama, like child abduction or conspiracies. I think this is for the best, so a newcomer to the Gotham Mythos(or comics in general) can ease into the show without being scared away too quickly by the oddities.

Final Verdict
Despite it's flaws and annoyances, Gotham is a pretty good show. Unlike the Flash or Arrow, you don't need a higher suspension of disbelief to accept the things going on. Like the Dark Knight Trilogy, it gives a believable setting with believable issues. The crimes keep you guessing, and the main cast keeps you invested. If you are a fan of crime dramas and don't mind a little oddities mixed in, give it a try. If you prefer your crime dramas and your comics separate, then I can't recommend it.

Also I realized that as the show goes on, the annoyances had gotten less and less. or I think its time I got some "help" with Jim.

Thats my review of Gotham so far! What did you think of the show thus far? What did you think of this review? Leave a comment below, and I'll see ya all soon!


  1. Excellent review. I agree with pretty much everything you said. Especially about Zsasz. I just don't think he belongs with the mob.

    1. I can see this mob angle working only if he fully snaps in his run with them

    2. Ironically the guy who plays Zsasz is the the same guy who plays The Mist in the Flash, who i also had a problem with XD

    3. I Think The Dude Has Been Type Cast As Lame

    4. I Think The Dude Has Been Type Cast As Lame