Though the Pilot, and even the first couple of episodes following, were a little uneven and on-the-nose, I still liked the premise enough to keep going. At first there's just a lot of winking at the audience with introduction to the iconic characters and of course the rocky stage of learning to walk as a series (which ALL shows go through). However, shortly after the start line, Gotham found it's legs and ran like the wind. Over time the story became subtler, the pacing slower and more deliberate than other shows (a quality I personally admire), and the character development absolutely superb. By episode six I was hooked and in the second half I could barely take myself away from the screen.
So why is Gotham such a delicious surprise? Well, aside from just being fantastic and addicting, Gotham does three very important things that most shows miss entirely these days.
|Carmen Bicondova is a perfect young Selina Kyle.|
Gotham does not cater to this mentality, and it's working in its favor. Instead of blazing through the plot, they take their time with each character's journey and purpose in the story. Gotham is a very complex world and it would be very easy to just jump from thing to thing, but so far it's been an enjoyable unraveling. I havent started season two yet (which isn't that far along at this point), but in season one they stuck with one major overarching story and many little subplots beneath and they stuck to it well. I felt satisfied and ready for the next stage in the journey by the end of the finale. There were a couple of things I would liked to have seen done a little differently in the end, but nothing so terrible that it ruined the narrative or viewing experience.
|Gordon and Bullock, a new favorite bromance.|
When I watch Gotham, I don't feel I'm being robbed of sexuality or realistic violence and circumstance, I feel as though I'm seeing everything I need to. The violent situations are done tastefully, and yet I completely feel the gravity of the events. One thing that sticks out is a scene in which two men are in a car, one of them shoots the other. All we see is the flash of the gun from outside the car, then a blurred image of the man's head against the window with a splatter of blood. We don't have to see the pieces of skull and brain to get the point, it's just as effective without all the gory details. Additionally, with sexuality, there is a scene where Fish Mooney has a man tied up in her bed beneath silk sheets. Though we don't see a full on sex scene or any nudity, we get the point. Just seeing the silk sheets and watching her untie his ribbons with her mouth, is enough to show us she is a very sensual woman and often uses this as a measure of control. When you can handle violence and sexuality in a respectful yet realistic way, I'd say you've earned your badges as creative masters.
|The mesmerizing Fish Mooney.|
Though Pertwee's Alfred is less refined, he LOVES Bruce and his devotion to him is what makes the character in the end. Alfred gives his life daily serving him and does so with all of his heart. Laying down your life is the ultimate love, and that doesn't exclusively mean dying for someone, it means living for them too.
Gotham nailed it with all it's characters. The villains are delightful and deep. They aren't just cartoony people with shallow motives. They have true desire and drive to be who they are and chase after what they want. It's easier to make villains interesting and a pleasure to watch, and it's far more difficult to make your heroes that way. Yet again, Gotham breaks the mold by making it's lead character, Jim Gordon, the most awesome straight-man hero I've seen in a long time.
|There's nothing more dangerous than an honest man.|
When you take into consideration that it's a Fox show, a network with a history of cancelling good shows or having cheesy production value, Gotham is a nice balanced medium. It lies somewhere between the highly stylized Tim Burton Batman films and the gritty, realistic Christopher Nolan films. You get glimpses of gargoyles and Gothic architecture, but in a mostly contemporary backdrop. I like that the time-period is nuanced and indistinct which helps you stay focused on the world, rather than being distracted by it's relation to our own. Sometimes if feels like a modern crime drama, other times it feels like a classic Noir flick. No matter the case, it's a delight to watch. The writing, too, is capital, especially in the second half of the season when the story really finds it's footing.
If you are a purist, this show is probably not for you. It's not the comics, it's a specific retelling of comic lore. However, if you are open-minded to looking at a new take on Gotham and Batman's origins, then definitely give this show a chance to tell you it's story.
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