Spirit Of The Goat
What The Little Bird Told Him
Welcome Back, Jim Gordon
The Fearsome Dr. Crane
The Blind Fortune Teller
Everyone Has a Cobblepot
Beasts Of Prey
Under the Knife
The Anvil or the Hammer
All Happy Families Are Alike
Where Gotham thrives is in delivering a living, breathing city chock full of nasty personas, complicated character dynamics and a hierarchical crime empire. With a charismatic young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) the driving force alongside scene stealer Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) there are some real positives for the show. Its a shame then that its let down by some filler episodes, questionable plot choices and the nagging feeling that this show is in desperate need of a hero.
The story does follow a young Bruce Wayne in the early days as a child trying to deal with the grief of losing his parents and cleverly, ties it in with Jim Gordon as the lead investigator into who the perpetrator is. Most of the show works as a crime drama following Jim Gordon and partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) who together tackle new and familiar villains across Gotham City. Tied into this is Oswald Cobbleplot who flirts between villain and hero as an antihero figure for the vasy majority of this season. With multiple characters and many interesting character dynamics, the story jumps between characters quickly. Some of the characters aren’t quite as developed as others, with Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) good, but ultimately unremarkable in her role.
While Gotham does a lot right with its slick presentation and suitably muted colour palette, its biggest issue is a lack of a central hero figure. Whilst Jim Gordon does a good job trying to fill this role, without a central hero figure or playing on the superhero traits that make this world so popular, it devolves into a fantastical crime drama. With the wealth of villainry on display here the show simply feels like Batman without Batman and the never ending onslaught of villains feels a little overbearing at times. Whilst this sounds ludicrious because, after all that is the show’s premise, the show ends up pitting villains against villains to make up for the lack of heroes which makes it difficult to empathise with any of them.
The trouble with origin stories too is that we already know what happens to these characters making the more tense moments where Jim Gordon finds himself in peril – pointless. We know he survives because we’ve seen the future of this character. The same thing can be said for almost all the other familiar faces including a young Catwoman, Riddler, Two Face and so on. Whilst the characters themselves are delivered with enough enthusiasm and decent acting to bring them to life in new and unique ways, its Penguin who really shines above all the others. A brilliantly creepy performance, he manages to both repulse and empathise in equal doses for large periods of the season. If there’s one character that manages to walk a thin line between hero and villain and make it believable its him and arguably Oswald is the best part of this show.
Despite a lack of tension and some filler episodes, Gotham does a pretty good job of bringing a living city rife with crime to life. The show has a great use of colour and despite some questionable decisions pitting villains against villains, its the characters that bring the story to life. A young Bruce Wayne does a good job with the material he’s given too but until the ending of the season, there isn’t much to his story. Ultimately, if you go into Gotham expecting a more generic superhero-type story you will be disappointing, Gotham is basically Batman without Batman and as such, works as a fantastical crime drama. The villains both make and break this show with some interesting cameo appearances but the sheer overwhelming number of them is a little overkill. Having said all of that, Season 1 of Gotham is a great effort, with a good spin on an overused Batman Universe. With some decent character dynamics, it’ll be interesting to see what direction this show goes in given the nature of its ending that leaves it wide open.