BRETT KEATING ‘15 CONTRIBUTOR
Three years removed from the final installation of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and with two years remaining until the premiere of Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman, Fox has decided to bring forth a new Gotham City, with the almost-origin story of a whole slew of characters in the Batman universe.
There is a lot to be excited about in this new show, which has been given a full 16 episode season order from Fox, but the show’s writing must improve immensely from its Pilot if it is going to get any credence from critics.
It was a good night for:
The City: Gotham is, in fact, the first character introduced in this new take on the 75 year-old franchise. Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) navigates the city, which is brighter, louder, and much more neon than Nolan’s Gotham was. Bright faces fill the streets, but there is crime on every block, and no one can hide from the inescapable flashing lights that haunt each store front. The design separates itself from the grim, bleakness of the most recent franchise, but is not quite the larger-than-life comic book that described Tim Burton’s creation in the 1980s.
The Cops: James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) make a strong first showing as partners in the corrupt Gotham Police Department. Logue, whose Bullock has been driven to alcoholism and corruption after years of serving on a mafia-run police force, appears as nothing more than a brutish asshole for much of the episode. His last scene, however, marks a high point in the episode, when he explains to Gordon, a newbie detective, that he must forego any moral qualms about working for the mob if he wants to survive on the force. McKenzie’s portrayal of Gordon shines brightest of the main cast, as he brings a surprising genuineness to a script full of platitudes.
Jada Pinkett Smith: This is the first time Smith’s character appears in the Batman franchise, as the baseball bat-wielding strip club owner Mooney Fish. From the moment she is introduced, Pinkett Smith is on-point, exaggerating her voice, gestures, and movement as she glides through her scenes, a brilliant change of pace from the bleak space in which Detectives Bullock and Gordon operate.
It was a bad night for:
Exposition: Oof. If the white face, black hair, yellowed teeth, and stilted gait didn’t give you a hint that Mooney’s crony Oswald Cobblepot will turn into Batman’s fish-eating enemy, perhaps his being called “Penguin” no less than three times in the episode helped you out. Further, the plants growing all around “Ivy Pepper’s” (Clare Foley) house and the riddles that Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) add to the frustration of even a viewer with a passing familiarity of the show. Even in a genre not known for subtlety, Gotham goes too far.
Lesbian Relationships: I was impressed with the show’s diversity, considering how one-colored many interpretations of Gotham City are. There are a large number of black and Latino characters, and many inhabit prominent roles in the story. Additionally, hints about Penguin’s sexuality are intriguing. However, the flattest moment of the show was surely when Montoya (Victoria Cartagena), head of Major Crimes Unit and Gordon’s rival, confronts Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) about their old relationship. The dialogue is stilted, awkward, and contained none of the tension those two actors built in the rest of their scenes.