So, we finally get the premier of the Fox show, Gotham. I was hoping for something decent, and I think we got at least that… borderline at the very least. There are some interesting aspects of the show, which if they stick to, can turn out to be real good (though no matter what they do, I don’t see it being more than a few seasons before it starts dragging out… and that might be giving it one too many seasons as is), but there are also some aspects they should avoid (which they didn’t in this pilot), and that will end my watching (and these reviews) sooner than later. So let’s go through the recap, and end with the good and the bad of the show.

Gotham pilot 02Gotham begins as you would expect… with Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered in front of him. This is seen through the eyes of a young girl who was running from some guys she just pick-pocketed (aka Catwoman). Jim Gordon (the new guy) and Harvey Bullock (the veteran, and dirty cop) show up. Gordon immediately comforts Bruce and we see a caring in him. Bullock on the other hand wants to avoid trouble (and whatever press this rich folks murder will bring).

During the investigation, Edward Nygma (aka, the Riddler; who I guess works in forensics or something), reveals that the gun used is actually an extremely rare gun, which doesn’t leave much to determine/track down the killer. Of course, a gun like that means heavy hitters, and in a way leads to the detectives going to Fish Mooney’s place (an up and comer in the “turf war”) for questions. One of her employees happens to be Cobblepot (aka the Penguin).

This leads the investigation to some low level criminal (who’s daughter is Poison Ivy btw), which during a gunfight ends up getting killed. Mystery solved? Of course not… The Penguin later reveals that the victim was set up by his own boss Mooney, and was not the real killer (I guess he’s looking to make his own way up the ladder).

Gotham pilot 04But when Gordon goes to question Mooney, he’s in over his head. And when Bullock tries to relieve tension and save his partner, he also get stuck in the same boat… as they’re both about to be killed.

Fortunately, the big mafia boss, Carmine Falcone, comes in and saves the day. Mostly because he never ordered this, and it’s his way of showing who the big guy really is. Partly because murdered cops is extra trouble. Partly because he knew Jim’s father, and maybe is trying to get Jim on his crooked side. Of course Jim will have none of it.

Mooney finds out Cobblepot had spilled the beans, and Carmine, to balance things out with Gordon and Mooney, tells Gordon if he wants to stay in Gotham, he needs to kill Cobblepot to show he can play game. Jim takes him to a pier, but only pretends to shoot him (misses him) while warning him to never return to Gotham.

Gotham pilot 03The show ends with Jim going to Bruce and revealing that they have not, in fact, caught the killer. He can reveal that info to the cops, or just pretend he’s covering it up too, in hopes to work against both the criminals, and the dirty cops. He leaves it up to Bruce, who shows his first sign of trust in Gordon, and accepts his terms. We also see a dark side building in Bruce in this scene – one that clearly shows what eventually comes to be.

The Good:
Batman represents a symbol… an incorruptible force out to clean up Gotham, in any means necessary (except murder); He worked outside the law, and cleaning up meant both crime and the dirty cops. He’s a symbol created from the corruption that Gotham itself seemed to be suffocated in. So having a show based on that corruption… showing you how bad the city itself was (that eventual turns Bruce to the Batman), is extremely interesting. Including some of the main villains (pre-costume phase) is also interesting and noteworthy. Though most of these characters don’t think about “suiting up” until Batman first appears (as they think, hey… if he can put on a mask, then we can be that crazy too), they are still villains at heart; and it will be great to see how they think and struggle to get to that point where, one day in the future, they become the super-villains we know them as. Finally, Jim Gordon was the one good, honest, trust-worthy cop that Batman saw as an ally. He wouldn’t stand for corruption, even if that meant going against the “serve and protectors” he was part of.

These aspects are all what give this show a chance of being great, and even make the stories we know and love of Batman more important (as we will be able to see how dark and dirty the city really was, and why Gordon was truly the one he could trust).

The Bad:
For one, FOX has still not mastered the formula for a dramatic/film quality show. HBO and Showtime had started things off, and both AMC and FX are moving along very well with this formula. But FOX seems to lack the production quality, writing and acting caliber that these other networks have mastered. Non-the-less, the production is still pretty decent (albeit some cheeky and tacky shots/scenes) and definitely not the reason to not watch it.

Walking the line of including all these characters, but not trying to affect the main story timeline is a tricky thing. I expect some things to change – and I’ll be ok with the minor ones. Gotham pilot 01But it’s a dangerous path, as even in this pilot, they showed their desire to try and stick in names for the sake of having them. “Cameos” are rarely a good thing. Sure, Penguin makes sense (in the end, he’s just a crime lord), but the Riddler as “forensics” (or whatever he was), and Ivy as the little girl, and the young catwoman running around… they’ll need to narrow down on who the important ones are, that work as part of this past story. The less the better… sure, focus on the crime like Falcone and Mooney, and even Cobblepot. If they’re careful, even Catwoman can be part of it (so long as she never actually wears the suit and calls herself that – reminder: Batman started the whole suit idea for all these Gothamites). But stop with the cameos. And make sure you focus on it being a crime-story. The innuendo that Barbara had some secret from Gordon… lets not change characters too much. And lets not make this a Soap Opera.

The Verdict:
I’ll keep on writing so long as they keep it interesting and workable. As a huge Batman fan, I’m going to be pretty critical, but in a film perspective, I’m also understanding to “required” changes. So… I guess we’ll see.