The first episode of Fox’s Gotham tells the well worn story of Batman’s origin. A young Bruce Wayne is traumatized by watching his parents murdered in front of him. But Gotham isn’t content with merely telling us about Batman, they manage to shoehorn in the Penguin, Joker(maybe), Riddler, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. On the surface, it wants to be a police procedural that follows around James Gordon, future Police Commissioner and friend of Batman.
For the most part, I liked Gotham, but I found it impossible to pay attention to the story of Police corruption. When we flew over Stately Wayne Manor, I half expected the familiar voice over to announce-Meanwhile, at Stately Wayne Manor…even though this is a show that wants to take itself deadly seriously, it still caused one or two Batman from the 60s flashbacks.
Gotham is heavily influenced by Tim Burton’s Batman as well as Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy and Frank Miller’s Sin City. The sets and costumes are all just short of being over the top and the violence is well over the top. Batman has always been a fairly dark bit of business, but Gotham is going beyond dark into grim and hopeless. Even Alfred the butler is no longer a well spoken man of substance and class, but a Cockney lout who yells at Bruce in a way that Mr Carson would not approve of.
I can hope that future episodes won’t be quite as crowded with future villains, but since Batman has a few dozen bad guys, this could be a running gag where we see someone new every week. But there has to be more than watching what’s going on in the background. I found that I didn’t much like anyone in this show. Our hero Jim is nice enough, but he’s a little too much Joe Friday. Then there is the odd bit with Jim’s girlfriend, who is a lesbian in her spare time, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Gotham has potential, but I think it will likely be going down the wrong path for my tastes.