Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nanoreview [TV]: Gotham, Episode 1

So I just watched Gotham, the new pre-Batman TV drama starring Benjamin McKenzie as Detective Jim Gordon, Donal Logue as his corrupt partner and Jada Pinkett-Smith as an ambitious mobster looking to supplant boss Carmine Falcone (played by John Doman, aka Lieutenant Rawls from The Wire!). Did I like it? Sure, I liked it. Was it a home-run? Not quite.

The meta-plot is: Gotham is an urban hellhole run by the mob and its partners in city government, and Gordon wants to "clean it up from the inside." Decades of Batman comics and films suggest he didn't do a very good job, but the show keeps your interest by exploring how this time period spawned many of the most famous of Bat-villains (as well as Batman himself). The pilot, at least, suggests that their rise is an inherent result of the criminality and corruption Gordon is trying to fight. Poison Ivy and the Penguin, for example, are both victims of the current order in their way (though Penguin does also quite clearly bring it on himself). It's not subtle, but it's done well enough.

Overall it's easy to conclude that, as far as superhero spinoffs centered on non-costumed protagonists go, Gotham is miles better than the unflavored Agents of Shield. That said, the pilot does exhibit a few symptoms of pilotitis. There is no evident chemistry between McKenzie and Logue, and their repartee is stilted and full of awkward pauses. Pinkett-Smith and Doman are better in more limited roles, however, and Robin Taylor is perfectly cast as the sniveling, sadistic lowlife who will eventually become the Penguin. But my personal favorite casting decision has to be Sean Pertwee--son of Third Doctor, John Pertwee--as Alfred. He brings a streetwise toughness to the role, a creative departure that I suspect will stick in the Bat-canon.

And my gripes may just be a function of said pilotitis; after all, I remember how terrible the Psyche pilot was, yet that turned into a hell of a good show. Now where'd I park the Blueberry?

Score: 7/10.