GOTHAM Series Preview: Fun and Promising Pilot with a Gritty Crime Element and Stand-Out Performances from Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor

by     Posted 162 days ago

gotham-preview
One of the most highly anticipated new shows for the Fall TV season is the Fox drama series Gotham.  From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (The Mentalist, Rome) and with a beautifully cinematic pilot directed by Danny Cannon (the CSI franchise, Nikita), it is the origin story for a number of the characters in the Batman universe, including Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler and Poison Ivy, as it shows what made them the formidable adversaries that they eventually become.  At its core, it is the story of Detective James Gordon’s (Benjamin McKenzie) rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil, and it chronicles the birth of one of the most popular superheroes of our time.

Collider was invited, along with a group of other press members, to attend the big-screen debut of the pilot at the super-swanky iPic Theater in Westwood, which was a great way to see a show like this.  Hit the jump for my thoughts and first impressions on the Gotham pilot.

gotham-ben-mckenzie-robin-lord-taylorFirst thing’s first, I am not a reader of comics.  All I know about the Batman universe is what I’ve picked up from previous film and TV incarnations, and having an older brother who read them.  That being said, I really enjoyed the pilot and found it both promising and with a lot of potential.  There are plot twists and fun surprises that I don’t want to ruin, so here are 10 spoiler-free things that you should know about Gotham:

  • For people who aren’t familiar with the comics and who are wondering whether this show is for them, while it is a serialized story, there is a gritty crime element that should definitely appeal to a wider audience.
  • This Gotham is grimy and violent, and clearly on its way to being overrun by a criminal element that will quickly be sending it on a downward spiral.  It feels much more like the real world heightened than it does a comic book world.
  • The series is centered around the Gotham police department and the partnership between hotshot newbie Detective James Gordon (McKenzie) and weathered Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue).
  • gotham-ben-mckenzie-david-mazouzWhile I wasn’t sold on such a young Bruce Wayne prior to seeing the pilot, David Mazouz does a great job at playing all of the emotional levels of the character.
  • There are some really heartfelt moments in both the new bond that Bruce Wayne forms with James Gordon, who finds himself working the high-profile murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne, and the clearly life-long relationship he has with butler Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee).
  • Whether they will eventually become hero, victim, vigilante or villain, it’s clear that each of the characters’ evolutions will progress out of and be a result of the current life situation that they are in.
  • Even with little to no dialogue in the pilot, Camren Bicondova (who plays a teenaged Selina Kyle, aka the future Catwoman) and Clare Foley (who plays Ivy Pepper, aka the future Poison Ivy) have enough mystery and flare to them that it will be interesting to see where they take their characters in future episodes.
  • gotham-jada-pinkett-smithDon’t be nervous about the new characters added to the world.  Fish Mooney, created specifically for the show, is played to perfection by Jada Pinkett Smith.  She is sexy, scary, dangerous, funny and bad-ass, and just really kills it in the role.
  • Robin Lord Taylor is a true stand-out as Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin.  He is a low-level psychopath for Fish Mooney, but has a definite lust for power that will surely come into play as the character develops.  His performance is just so good that people won’t be able to not talk about it.
  • There is a feeling that it’s necessary to pay attention to every character in every scene because you won’t know when you might be meeting someone, for the first time, who could develop into someone very important, or if you’re catching a quick glimpse of a character from the Batman universe that will be brought into the story later on.

Gotham premieres on Fox this Fall.

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  • pickaname

    “stand out performances from Jada Pinkett-Smith”.. Wasn’t expecting that, but when it comes to films/TV shows, I’m glad I can be proven wrong and be happy about it.

    • Christina Radish

      I wasn’t expecting it either. Was happy to be surprised.

  • Manuel Orozco

    As a fan of the Nolan batman trilogy I’ll be looking forward to the show with great anticipation

  • TJW

    How is the pairing/performances of the two main detectives in this? I felt like that element was the best part about Almost Human, and Gotham seems to have much more going for it so hopefully it will be more successful.

    • Christina Radish

      In the pilot, they’re really just starting to feel each other out and they clash on most everything. But, I think it will be an interesting pairing to watch, as it progresses.

  • sunshine

    Ivy Pepper? That’s a hard fail. I’m glad the show looks promising though.

  • Polarboy

    Watch Gotham so you can see Bruce Wayne not be Batman, yeeeeea. I kid, I kid, but only sort of.

    • T_Toughnuts

      Reminds me of a Patton Oswalt joke about the Star War prequels…
      Fan: “Oh…I LOVE Boba Fett…is there any Boba Fett in the prequels?”

      George Lucas: “Yea…how about we see him as a little kid?”

      Fan: “Hmm…that sounds kind of lame…but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt…And OH…DARTH VADER! Does it get any better than DARTH VADER? He HAS to be in the movie right?”
      George Lucas: “Oh, yea…you get to see Lord Vader as a little kid!”
      Fan: “Seriously?”

    • T_Toughnuts

      Reminds me of a Patton Oswalt joke about the Star War prequels…
      Fan: “Oh…I LOVE Boba Fett…is there any Boba Fett in the prequels?”

      George Lucas: “Yea…how about we see him as a little kid?”

      Fan: “Hmm…that sounds kind of lame…but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt…And OH…DARTH VADER! Does it get any better than DARTH VADER? He HAS to be in the movie right?”
      George Lucas: “Oh, yea…you get to see Lord Vader as a little kid!”
      Fan: “Seriously?”

  • The Flobbit

    My question is: how does this compare tonally and quality-wise to the brilliant Arrow?

    • Christina Radish

      Arrow is a comic book show. Gotham is more of a crime drama, with characters from the comic book world.

      • The Flobbit

        Thanks Christina, but you haven’t answered my question! Is the action better? Is the cast any good? Are the villains more threatening? Is the show addictively watchable?

      • Christina Radish

        I’ve said everything that I can and will say about the show, in the pilot stage. I’ve already commented on how good the cast is, in the article itself. As far as the rest, it’s going to take a couple more episodes to really get a feel for everything else.

      • The Flobbit

        Alright then. Is this a show you will be following with weekly reviews?

      • The Flobbit

        Secondly, and here is a big concern: how much does the city of Gotham come into it as a character? In the comics, Gotham has it’s own presence – it’s like a god over all, the beginning and the end, and the inbetween, encompassing all and surrounding all.
        I assume because the show is called Gotham, we explore the darkness, the seediness, and the grimy heart of Gotham that makes Batman so compelling…

        Basically, what I’m asking is: is Gotham (the city) dark, scary, brutal, and chaotic?

  • Khal Bozo

    oh boy, can’t wait for the inevitable Penguin/Mooney power struggle where he manically croons “everybody knows, Penguin’s eat Fish!” (Mooney that is…)

    • Polarboy

      Perhaps him taking over her enterprise will be how he gets his nickname.

  • Mandy

    I’m still really confused why they would rename Poison Ivy. Why go with the ridiculous Ivy Pepper when she already has a perfectly good canon name? Pamela Isley would have been fine.

  • Paul Rodriguez

    That show looks absolutely horrible. I hate when they deviate from the source material so much. The premise is crap and some characters make no sense in the show. I guess if your not familiar with the characters, back stories, etc it wouldn’t matter to you anyway. Me, like with most (if not all) live action TV show/movie adaptions, will stay way from this.

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