Made By: DC Entertainment, Primrose Hill Productions and Warner Bros. Television
Running time: 44-49 min.
Gotham is an American Crime Drama adaption of DC’ Batman franchise developed by Bruno Heller (HBO’s Rome, and CBS’ Mentalist) that focuses on the timeline just after Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered, focusing on a younger James Gordon before his days as commissioner, Bruce Wayne, the origins of carious future supervillains, and the power plays of current ones.
This has to be the best DC adapted to television show anyone has had the pleasure to witness. It hit all the buttons right across the board, thus it is not a surprise that has quite a fan following and is well regarded by other critics.
The cinematography was brilliant; they knew how to utilize the camera for the optimum effect without going overboard, particularly with framing shots, long shots, and establishing shots. The special effects did a decent job in creating the gritty noir ambiance that is a titular trait of the fictional Gotham.
The music was exactly what you expect from something from the Batman-verse, despite the timeline, and helped to enhance the tone of an episode or character.
The utilization of the outfits was also effective in the visual enjoyment of the show, particularly the Penguin’s slightly debonair creepy suit, the subtle nod to future Joker’s outfit that Cicero wore during “The Blind Fortune Teller” (season 1 episode 16) and the gangster Fish Mooney’s wacky-sexy outfits, portray the unique styles and looks of each character and also give subtle nods to the source material at the same time.
The characters meanwhile is where the show really shined, forming them by utilizing the source material, but making them separate enough entities in and of themselves to make them unique without diverging to harshly from who they were in the comics, building each character from the comic canon into what they will later be with a refreshingly gorgeous respect for character development.
Fish Mooney is a gangster with power in the leading crime family running Gotham, a femme fatale that takes her archetype to heart and uses it as just another tool to get what she wants from those around her. She is fearless, convoluted, and is willing to play with both criminals, victims, and the law alike. Jada Picket Smith owns this character, utilizing her body movement, her facial features, and her amazing voice to portray Fish with a professional attention to the detail and dedication to the show that comes out in her performance.
The Penguin, or Oswald Cobblepot, is a youthful underling who moves up in the ranks through guile and the occasional good old fashioned stabby-stab insanity from time to time. He has yet to develop his debonair aspect that Penguin from other Batman materials has, and he can come across as a little snively from time to time, but he utilizes his intelligence and combines it with his ambition in such a way, that as wormy as the guy is, you can’t help but be fascinated by his progress into becoming the future Penguin with power we all know he was in Batman. Robin Lord Taylor like Smith for Mooney, utilizes his body movement, facial, expressions, and voice to project the character’s personality well, merging with the penguin look and making it a part of himself as he portrays the character, adding just a touch of sinister naiveté at times.
Finally we look at the other great strength of the show, the story, and boy is it good! Using the Death of the Waynes, which in the comics was briefly explained catalyst for Bruce becoming Batman, and turning it into this primary story arc of conspiracy was a smart move on part of the show’s writers. The conspiracy is well paced, just the right amount of mystery and twists, drawing in the various main characters in this domino effect of action and reaction. Which is what a main overarching story arc should be, particularly with this story’s premise.
The other arcs that run through the season centering specific characters outside of the Wayne murders are also interesting, convoluted, and well-paced. Each character has well defined motives, and each is challenged in different ways, making or breaking the characters as the show progresses. For example, Gordon’s challenge in morality and his definition of duty to the law, you can see the personal struggle of this central protagonist as he treads that personal and political edge, what you need for a main protagonist. With antagonists like Penguin, you see his rise, his failures and his victories to become the supervillain he is in the source material, yet still rough enough around the edges to leave plenty of room for more development. Fish Mooney’s arc is the best of the lot watching how her maneuverings and manipulations both win for her and lose for her. Every episode that centers on her are always the most riveting to watch because you never really know what to expect.
The individual episode arcs (some running for 2-3 episodes), were fascinating little origin stories into characters from the Batman Rouges gallery primarily (Joker and the Scarecrow for example), as well as introducing themes such as vigilantism in its proto stages into Gotham, even details like Detective Bullock’s keen antagonism towards to Batman in the source material explained through his experiences with The Spirit of the Goat (Episode 6) and The Red Hood Gang (episode 17).
Overall this was an enjoyable first season, a definite grade A start and then some, setting up the players, the plot for the following seasons, yet stands on its own in strength. It makes one excited to see what awaits them in the next season to come.
Gotham trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwOPA2upeCA