Thoughts on Gotham (spoilers)

Gotham's bloated episode 1 roster of characters

Gotham’s bloated episode 1 roster of characters

After watching the series premiere of Gotham last week, I struggled with my thoughts about it.  I really wanted to like it, but just didn’t.  At Pure Geekery Headquarters (not so much a physical location as a group chat on facebook), we kicked around the idea of writing two differing thoughts pieces about it.  Then when Claire watched the pilot, she was wasn’t a big fan either.  So, below are my thoughts on the things that I do and do not like about the first two episodes.

I’m not going to sugar-coat this at all, I thought the pilot was an absolute mess.  They cram way too much story into to way too little time.  We get through the murder of the Waynes, catching the supposed killers, and a complete trial for this person all within the first 30 minutes.  In the second half we find out the guy arrested for the crime was taking a fall for the real killers.  This easily could have been spread out into 2 full hour episodes, and the story would have been better for it.

I also thought they unnecessarily put too many well known Batman characters into the first episode.  In one hour, we meet James Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Oswald Cobblepot, Selina Kyle, Edward Nygma, Ivy Pepper, and Barbara Kean/Gordon.  I understand wanting to put winks in for Batman fans, but having four of the largest future Batman villains all in the pilot episode seems like overkill.  Once again, spread it out over time, and your story will be better for it.

I thought the story in the second episode was a lot better.  Child trafficking is a dark, nasty topic.  It was interesting to see things play out, and it really fleshed out the character of Selina Kyle, giving us her background, which we didn’t get in the pilot.

Time for something positive.  I think they’ve done a real good job of casting their characters.  The breakout of the show is definitely Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot.  The penguin jokes get real old real quick, but Taylor has created a real twisted character that is the most fun thing to see on the show so far.  John Doman as Carmine Falcone is also great.  I loved Doman on The Wire, and he seems like a perfect fit to play a mob boss.  Carmen Bicondova showed that Selina Kyle was sharp as a tack even as a kid this week.  Donal Logue is a good crooked cop partner to the squeaky clean James Gordon Ben McKenzie plays.  I’m a little on the fence about Gordon at the moment.  For being the main character, he has done much to make me interested in his character.  I think McKenzie is fine for the role, and hope it will just take time to establish the most important character in the series.

The thing I just can’t seem to get past is the identity crisis that is the show’s visual style.  I’ve spent two episodes now desperately trying to figure out what era this show takes place in, and it’s just not possible.  All the male characters seem to wear suits  with fedoras.  The night club Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) runs looks like a depression era gangster club/speakeasy.  Then people start pulling out cell phones, there’s a color television, a bright yellow school bus, and Bruce Wayne is listening to headphones.  James Gordon references that he just back from from “the war.””  Then someone refers to a woman as a “broad.”  The city itself seems to feel different every other scene as well.  The way nothing seems to mesh with anything else is making my head want to explode!

I was ready to completely write Gotham off after the pilot episode.  However, being the good genre television viewer that I am, I know it takes time to build stories.  Episode two was a major improvement, but I’m still not convinced this show has enough to keep me interested.  I’ll watch a couple more weeks and see where things are heading, but I’m moving forward with extreme caution.

Gotham airs Monday nights at 8pm on FOX.

One Response to “Thoughts on Gotham (spoilers)”
  1. Haley says:

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