This evening saw the première of the long-awaited FOX drama, “Gotham.” This new series, based on characters appearing in DC Comics, marks the first time a live action series revolving around the Batman mythology has appeared on television since 1966. There is one major difference. No, it isn’t that ‘bat-sui” and shark repellant haven’t been shown; it’s that this is not about Batman. This is about Gotham City.
The fictitious city of Gotham (most often seen as DC Universe’s New York City) is front and center. It is as much a main a character as Bruce Wayne and the Batman we have come to take for granted. The premise of the series revolves around the tipping point in which Gotham City began it’s descent into the madness, chaos, and modern day Sodom and Gomorrah that would pave way for the necessity of a man to put on a cape and cowl. The hour long pilot opens with the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and the early moments in Jim Gordon’s career pursuit of finding those responsible for the killing. Within the hour, we are treated to a noir-ish city, a hyper stylized rendering of the city in which it was filmed, New York. We are introduced, to a much more frenetic and muscular paced GCPD, and the idea that “hope” will one day rise from a city corrupt with “lackadaisical and slovenly” police officers who live among the organized crime families that help steer the city closer to darker nights.
The pilot episode of “Gotham” stands along with some of the better pilots in television history. While much darker, and significantly more tough than CW’s “Smallville”, FOX’s brand new drama is definitely more violent than “Arrow.” “Gotham” finds itself lost amid the fantasy of Joel Schumacher’s Gotham City and Christopher Nolan’s more believable approach to the choices men and women make, and the line they walk between White and Dark Knights. There are three standouts on this program that must be mentioned, and will continually be preached at my comic book pulpit to all that gather – Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, and David Mazouz. Character actor extraordinaire, Donal Logue IS Detective Harvey Bullock. A fan favorite character, especially from the Bruce Timm animated Batman series, has finally been given the live action treatment. The gruff, sarcastic, live and let live detective with a heart is completely inhabited by Mr. Donal Logue. Jada Pinkett Smith, portrays a newly created character, a mob lieutenant named Fish Mooney, who works for Carmine Falcone. Introducing a new character to a much beloved and well known mythology is never an easy task. If you stray too far from the page and panels, you might as well be thrown into Arkham. However, if done right, you may be hob-knobbing it with the mucky mucks at Wayne Manor. Jada Pinkett Smith breathes a lively, sexy, and silent volcano of a performance into Fish Mooney. Yet this is where the show does border on Schumacher territory. Not that there is anything wrong with that. After all, this is hour televison AND based on one of the most popular of COMIC BOOKS of all time. There is no reason, she shouldn’t have fun with this role and more power to her for creatively hamming it up. I do love her comic book-ish villain of a character and she sure seems like she stepped out of a Mickey Spillane pulp novel. I, loved her, and greatly look forward to seeing how Fish Mooney develops. Yet, I am cautiously optimistic about the tightrope “Gotham” walks. One performance that is that rare gem that all good television should be blessed with is a performance that sweeps you away into the world we choose to give ourselves to for an hour. That performance goes to the young, talented, and natural intensity of David Mazouz’s Bruce Wayne. Seen her as a young boy, years away from traveling the world, seeking “the means to fight injustice and to turn fear against those who prey on the fearful”, we are given a real young boy being ripped away from the joy all adolescents should be entitled to. We are given a young boy thrust into the harshness of adulthood and standing on the edge of a choice; that choice being to conquer fear or become it. David Mazouz is Bruce Wayne and he has big shoes to fill. After performances by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and by 2016’s Ben Affleck, we all know that at some moment, if granted the success of “Smallville”, he will eventually put on the cowl. While any boy his age might understandably be intimidated, David Mazouz shows no signs worry. He boils in each scene with an unsettling serenity that makes us all wish for that time travel machine to fast forward to the day that HE is Batman!
I liked “Gotham” very much. The cast and creative team have definitely accomplished a hard task of bringing the world of Batman to the small screen. It was an enlightened decision to keep the show centered on the City, as opposed to the Caped Crusader. “Gotham” needs to be different and we want it to be. After a promising start, we at What’cha Reading will definitely be watching.