Friday, September 26, 2014

Pilot Review: Gotham

Gotham (FOX)
Premiered September 22 at 8pm

It would be fair to call this the most anticipated show of the fall. Batman got big over the past ten years because of the positive reviews for Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and TV watchers are always thrilled about a comic book reboot. In this case, it’s not the CW making a new DC show (like “Smallville” or “Arrow”), but another network that made an ill-fated venture into the Gotham universe with “Birds of Prey” about a decade ago. FOX is actually a great choice for a show like this, since it doesn’t need to be on cable but does deserve to be somewhere that’s able to deliver consistent action, which I think it’s reasonable to say FOX does. The good news is that this show is actually pretty decent, and it may avoid the trappings of a series like this which hinges so much on predicting its own future. Centering the show on a young Commissioner Gordon rather than on Bruce Wayne himself is a smart idea, and it seems to be paying off since he’s a real do-gooder stuck in a dark world plagued by corruption. I’m still a bit worried about all of the characters needed to lead up to their destinies, but it seems like Catwoman and Penguin, at least, will be put to productive use in a way that doesn’t feel entirely tied to their preexisting alter egos in Batman lore. It’s hard to believe that Ben McKenzie is the same actor who played Ryan on “The O.C.” a decade ago, and I think he’s actually this show’s strongest asset as Gordon. It’s interesting to see Donal Logue flip-flop between comedy and drama, and he’s a good fit for bad egg Harvey Bullock. I’m not sold on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney, but I think the supporting characters will just have to grow on me. This was an ambitious pilot, and though things could go downhill, I’m intrigued for now.

How will it work as a series? Gordon has made his choice not to let the city get to him, but his partner thinks that he killed the Penguin, an untruth that’s going to come back to haunt him sooner rather than later if the violent end of the episode is any indication. There is so much in this universe that can be done, and let’s hope this show embraces the “Smallville” model of blazing new trails rather than sticking to the facts as they were invented so many years ago.
How long will it last? This one seems like a guarantee to be FOX’s flagship new show, and pairing it with the success story of last season, “Sleepy Hollow,” is a good sign. The ratings for the pilot were great, and I have no doubt that this show will soon be renewed for a second season.

Pilot grade: B

No comments: