In the past few years DC Comics has proven that they rule the small screen, with little serious competition from Marvel. This is, once again, evident in DC's Batman prequel, Gotham. The show, which premiered Monday on Fox, stars Ben Mckenzie as Detective Gordon, a greenhorn in the Gotham City Police Department. His first case: the double homicide of the parents of Bruce Wayne.
This fall, we will have reached season three of Arrow, the highly successful superhero action show, as well as the dawn of it's spin-off, Flash, both of which contain action packed, super heroic crime fighters. Gotham, on the other hand, teased an "Agents of SHIELD"-esque style of story-telling that focused on the B-list characters, rather than capes and tights. That said, how does it stack up?
In short, to answer the first burning question, it's good, and is worth your time. Since the premise is centered on the police department, and not Batman, be prepared for quite a bit of NYPD Blue and CSI-type interrogations, following leads, etc. but set within an environment we're already familiar with, while highlighting characters who will become future heroes/villains in the comics, and hopefully in later seasons.
|Corey Michael Smith as Edward Nygma|
|Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot|
As strong as the lead cast is, however, the supporting cast can be pretty weak. I don't know what it is about DC Comics TV shows, but they have a tendency to pick comparatively weak supporting actresses. All scenes featuring Gordon's fiancee Barbara, played by Erin Richards, feel like watching a cardboard cut-out. She shares a scene with Gordon's rival detective Montoya, played by Victoria Cartagena, wherein they discuss a game changing plot point, but I couldn't get the full effect of the news, due to their incredibly bland "acting." This is, however, a nit-pick as the rest of the cast does a fantastic job in their roles.
Just as Agents of SHIELD is set in the Avengers universe and therefore lends a similar atmosphere, this show gives off an energy nearly identical to that of Batman Begins, apart from the new cast. This tends to bounce back and forth between a help and a hindrance. For example, there is a montage of Gordon and Bullock interrogating a series of shady individuals that takes place under the dim, yellow light of a swinging lamp. This seemed incredibly cheesy, and didn't fit very well, given the quick pace, and drastic changes in atmosphere. As mentioned earlier though, it is also done very well in later scenes, one such being the first time we're introduced to Oswald Cobblepot, as he and several goons beat someone up in a dirty, rain-soaked alley. Given that this is a pilot episode, it seems likely that these quick bounces in atmosphere will be resolved in time. There's a delicate balance that needs to be struck between a CSI-esque crime drama, and an Arrow-type comic book show.
The short answer is: Yes, you should give this show a chance. While it does have several wrinkles that need to be worked out, it does what a pilot episode should, it sets the tone for a good show with a strong cast of interesting characters within a familiar setting, but from an angle we haven't seen before.
Here's the best part, if you didn't get the chance to watch it on TV, Fox has the episode available to watch online for free: