Gotham: Pilot (2014) – Review

Raise your hands if you think the world needed more of Batman’s origins? Yeah, me neither, but here we are once more we venturing into the dark streets of Gotham City, this time courtesy of the Fox Network. Right out of the gate a network show based on the early years of Batman has to fight that attitude, and as most prequel stories don’t work because the interesting parts of the story have already been told that attitude is pretty justified. Smallville lasted ten seasons without Clark donning the cape and flying to the rescue, but he still had superpower and fought many villains (often lame villains I must add) but he was still a superhero, but Bruce Wayne here is just a little kid with nary a batarang in site.

Gotham banner

Enter Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) a hero soldier newly arrived in Gotham who slowly comes to the realization that he may be one of the few honest cops in the entire city. He’s partnered with Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) who is definitely one of the crooked ones, but he is a man with definite shades of grey. Bullock isn’t a bad man he just came to the realization a while ago that the only way to survive in Gotham is to play the rigged game as is, because to attempt to change it is to die.

The Odd Couple

So is the show a Gotham police procedural? No, because we are constantly bombarded with characters that will later be in the top tier of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. If not handled well this could get really annoying really fast. The most egregious example of this is young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) who will someday become Catwoman. The pilot begins with us following her through the streets of Gotham while she steals milk from a woman’s groceries and pickpockets a guy’s wallet. I was okay with seeing cute as a button Selina Kyle parkouring her way across the rooftops of Gotham and only slightly groaned when she gave the stolen milk to an alley cat (get it, she likes cats), but when it turns out she witness the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne I was about to give up on the show after only seeing five minutes. Then Ben McKenzie’s James Gordon entered the picture and the show began to slowly win me back.

Manic Pixie Cat Girl

We also have police forensic specialist Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) who likes to answer direct questions with riddles. This is something I’m betting would get you fired after about a week. Then we have Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor) who we see with a pointy nose and an umbrella, oh and he’s total psychopath. A little abused girl named Ivy pops up briefly because apparently name checking three future villains wasn’t enough.

I sense something fowl in the air.

Lucky for us the show mainly sticks with Gordan and Bullock as they try to solve the Wayne murders. Through the investigation we meet Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) a local underworld boss and then Carmine Falcone (John Doman) who clearly is the man who runs Gotham. For the most part this was what made the show work as Gotham is shown here as kind of like a gothic New York by way of The French Connection and if the series stays more or less along those lines it could work. If it starts doing super villain of the week schtick it will falter and fail.

Well I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite actors and that is Sean Pertwee who plays Alfred Pennyworth Bruce Wayne’s ever faithful butler. Neither he nor Bruce (David Mazouz) is given much to do in this episode and really what can one do with a young Bruce Wayne? He’s not old enough to start his training yet so aside from Alfred giving the kid advice and sandwiches I can’t see where the show is going to take these two.

 At what point do you think the show will suggest, “The Butler did it.”

That Selina Kyle is seen popping up at the Wayne funeral and later at the entrance to Wayne Manor has me worried. Are we going to get young Bruce and Selina going off to solve mysteries together? *shudder*

He’s hoping that the show runners have a few good ideas up their sleeves because right not it has me interested enough to keep watching, but I remain intensely skeptical all the same.

Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks

Film grad who spends most his time trying to catch up on his "To Watch" pile of movies.