FOX crime drama Gotham features a comic book set of origins with attitude. This show feels like a cross between Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire and Frank Miller’s Sin City sans Marv. Although the premiere episode feels more like the video game story of a brave cop starting on a jaded police force. Of course Gotham City is not Los Angeles and the fictional town of Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon feels more like New York than the city of angels.
This “beginnings” tale of the future black-caped hero’s town and its infamous residents looks good if not a little too computer generated. This may be to allow the show’s creators a chance to make the world feel like it is straight from a comic book, or as it looks in this case, a graphic novel.
On the plus side there are enough interesting characters to make the show stand out even without excessive CG. Thus far, it is Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, a new creation for the Warner’s program, who is a real stand out in the series’ premiere. While her character may be “tacked on” she brings enough to the role that Mooney feels like a D.C. Comic creation, despite her Dick Tracy type moniker.
The young James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, certainly comes across as a sort of straight arrow who does not let his partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) lead him astray too much. Oddly, Bullock looks like a refugee from the time travel cop show Life on Mars. For those unfamiliar with the other show, the protagonist there suffers an accident and while in a coma he goes back to the 1970s as a cop.
With Bullock’s hat and leather jacket the detective looks like he has dropped into Gotham on his way back to the precinct on the other show. The senior cop also has plenty of jaded attitude and it is apparent that none of this rubs off on the younger Gordon in this series of origins.
The young Bruce Wayne may be more of a peripheral character in this show, along with his butler Alfred Pennyworth (played by the splendid Sean Pertwee) but there are a lot of younger versions of deadly and bigger than life villains who will turn up later, along with those who are not such cut and dried baddies.
A young Poison Ivy, Selena Kyle and Oswalt Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, all make an appearance in this first show and no doubt will continue to make their presence known throughout the first season. Even a, potential, young Riddler – who apparently works for the police – seems to make an entrance in the show.
In terms of casting all the adult roles look good as well as believable. McKenzie looks like a younger version of actor Gary Oldman who plays the older Gordon in the films. Somewhat oddly, the Texas born actor also looks enough like Englishman Sean Pertwee that they could be brothers. This becomes really apparent when the two men are in scenes together.
Gotham, the origins story with attitude, delivers the goods in a satisfactory manner. Full of comic book noire and a female villain in Jada Pinkett Smith that will be more than memorable. It will be interesting to see just how long a young Joker will take to appear, if at all along with other well known denizens of the verse. Gotham airs Mondays on FOX.
By Michael Smith