Warning! There are no spoilers for this episode as it is the series pilot, but going forward each episode review will contain spoilers.
Out of the four DC shows hitting shows this fall, Bruno Heller’s Gotham is the one that has received arguably the most hype, and as a result has probably received the most divided attention so far. Some people love it, others find a middle ground whilst there are some who don’t think it’s quite escaped the shadow of Batman, and whilst that may be true to a certain extent, with a villain-heavy pilot featuring roles for a younger Catwoman, the Riddler, Carmine Falcone and many more, Gotham actually manages to keep you entertained for the first hour of its runtime, and based on what I’ve seen here I’ll certainly be coming back for more.
Rookie cop and former war hero James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), is new to Gotham, and finds himself partnered up with Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) as they attempt to solve the case of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, who were murdered in front of their son, Bruce (David Mazouz) by a masked gunman. Instantly Gordon and Bullock find themselves digging deeper into the case, following Bullock’s reluctant acceptance, and attempt to close the mystery quickly. Over the course of their hunt for the murderer, they find themselves meeting younger generations of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, and there’s plenty on display. The pilot feels filled with villains and as a result allows for a guessing game for fans. There’s even a hint at someone who could turn out to be the Joker, but unlike others it isn’t explicitly stated.
The show is at is best visually. Gotham’s atmosphere feels incredibly well created and you really get a sense that you’re in Bruce Wayne’s city as opposed to just a normal city like Chicago or New York. It’s one thing that the show manages to accomplish better than Christopher Nolan’s movies in that respect, and I’m looking forward to seeing what more fantastic visual scenes we’ll see in the upcoming weeks. There’s a distinct style about this show that makes it standout from the rest of other crime shows very clearly, and it goes a long way to capture that that unique feel.
The cast is mostly good. Whilst a young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) gets a lot of attention she doesn’t actually get any dialogue this episode, instead sneaking around the city and climbing on rooftops. Whilst we haven’t had a chance to hear Bicondova’s dialogue yet, she’s got everything else one could expect from a young Catwoman nailed down. It’ll be interesting to see how her storyline works going forward and whether we will have any interactions between Bruce and Selina at this early stage. Speaking of Bruce though, the child who will one day become Batman also has a large presence in this pilot, and whilst I’m normally not a fan of child actors, David Mazouz plays Bruce Wayne very well. He gives the character an interesting feel and the growing relationship with Mackenzie’s Gordon will be fun to see develop over the next few weeks.
Donal Logue’s Bullock is one of the highlights of the episode. His take on a dirty cop is pulled off very well indeed, and the character really shines in comparison to Mackenzie’s solid but not groundbreaking Gordon. Logue, like Robin Lord Taylor’s Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin) and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney (An entirely new creation) are the most fun to watch in the episode and again it’s going to be very interesting to watch them develop going forward. On the other hand, we haven’t really had enough of the likes of Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) to really judge yet.
The plot of the episode isn’t the strongest one ever but it’s handled well, and you have to remember that the pilots aren’t normally a show’s finest hour (both Arrow and Agents of SHIELD got better as they went on for example). There’s plenty of action that’s well directed and the chase sequences were pretty well done. Out of the pilots for new shows that I’ve seen so far this season (Red Band Society, Forever and Madam Secretary being the other three) this one is probably the strongest yet.
But what do you think? Will you be sticking around for future episodes given what you’ve seen here? Are you pleased with the attempt of a Batman show without Batman or has this let you down? Let me know in the comments below.