Review: Gotham: Episode 1

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If you havent yet heard of Gotham, you’re in for a treat. Gotham is a new American show depicting the origin stories of Batman and many other popular villains and significant characters in the grisly Gotham city, including Catwoman, Penguin, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, and Detective Jim Gordon.

The premiere opens with a young Catwoman stealing some milk to feed an alleycat. As she climbs to the rooftops, we see a young Bruce Wayne coming up the allley with his parents and anyone who has seen any of the Batman movies or knows anything about the character knows what’s about to go down.

We are introduced to detective James ‘Jim’ Gordon, a rookie detective in Gotham City (it’s not really clear), who coolly disarms a criminal in the police station. His new partner is Harvey Bullock, a man with very different views of how things should be done, a man very familiar with the crime and corruption-riddled Gotham. The pair are called into a double homicide – Bruce Wayne’s parents. When Bullock realises who the deceased are, he tries to pull out of the case, but Jim is already comforting the traumatised Bruce Wayne. Jim tells him he knows how he feels, as he too has lost a father to crime, and vows to bring the criminal to justice. A rather more skeptical Alfred arrives with his british accent and pessimism, who says to Jim ‘You’re new aren’t you?’ when Jim tells Bruce he will find the man who did this.
It’s at this point that i’ll mention just how beautiful the world of Gotham is, and when I say beautiful I mean beautifully dark. Setting aside  claims from Bruno Heller that Gotham will be visually superior to the Nolan films, and that the Nolan movies (The Dark Knight trilogy) are ‘not particularly visually pleasurable’, it’s clear that Gotham recreates the dark atmosphere of Gotham’s streets accurately, but as to whether they are more pleasurable to the popular Nolan movies I’ll leave up to you. The acting is also impressive across the board, including the child roles. They aren’t ground-breaking performances but they’re definitely enough to immerse you in Gotham’s story and develop the often complex characters.
Detective Bullock, who was previously adamant on ditching the case, surprisingly doesn’t take the opportunity when it presents itself. Perhaps it was a desire to prove his worth to the pair from the major crimes unit, but to me it seems a little out of character from him. Though he then forcefully requests a change of partner, to no avail. This isn’t the first we’ll see of the partners’ conflicting ideologies either. We are introduced to Edward Nigma AKA The riddler, who works in the police department as a forensic lab consultant. He is already spinning riddles to the unimpressed Bullock and Gordon. There’s no sign, other than the riddles and his interest in puzzles, that this man will go on to become a super villain. It’s for this reason that the show works for both people that know the Batman lore very well, and those completely unaware of it. For Batman virgins, the show works really well as a detective drama with a twist, and it certainly takes influence from a lot of similar shows, as the main character is Jim Gordon, and though Bruce Wayne is a very significant character, the show does not revolve around him. Similarly, the show works great for Batman fans and they get to delve into the world of Pre-Batman Gotham and experience the circumstances that called for a vigilante to rise up.
We are also introduced to Penguin, a strange feeble man who works for gangster boss Fish Mooney. We see him with his trademark umbrella, expressing his love for violence like a young boy who just discovered video games; and Poison Ivy, a young girl with a criminal father and a love for plants. I won’t get into the plot too much, just watch the episode, but after a tense ride we are introduced to Falcone, who effectively has the police department in the palm of his hand, as Jim experiences. We really connect with Jim Gordon as he is faced with the decision to kill Oswald Cobblepot AKA Penguin, but the final scene of of the episode leaves us questioning his decision. Is it right to kill someone for the greater good?
Overall I am really impressed with what the show offers. I think it makes a very intriguing and exciting watch for fans of the Batman world and those that don’t really care for it alike. Its visually pleasing and the characters have genuine depth. I don’t know how the visuals translate to television. If you’re lucky enough to have Chanel 5 HD then I highly recommend watching it in high definition. A promising first episode and I can’t wait for more.
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