TV Series Review: ‘Gotham’

The buzzing new TV series “Gotham,” which premiered Sept. 22 on Fox, focuses on what life was like in Gotham City before Batman came to be.

The protagonist of the show is detective James Gordon, who will eventually go on to be Commissioner Gordon – friend to the infamous Caped Crusader.

Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, is a young cop who is new to Gotham and its corrupt police department. As the only person in Gotham with any sort of conscience, Gordon hopes to instill justice in the city, starting with finding the true murderer of young Bruce Wayne’s parents. Aiding Gordon in his search for the truth is his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) who is the embodiment of every negative police stereotype imaginable. Bullock, who is more likely to break the law than to enforce it, is arrogant and self-serving–a stark contrast to Gordon’s mild-mannered and honest approach to police work.

This unlikely partnership is repeatedly up against Gotham crime lord Fish Mooney, (an original character brought to life by the superb performance of Jada Pinkett Smith), and up-and-coming bad guys like Oswald Cobblepot, who will one day become the villainous Penguin. Fans of the Batman universe will enjoy the inclusion of characters like Selina Kyle, who was a young juvenile delinquent before she was Catwoman, and Edward Nygma, better known by his future alter ego, The Riddler.

Unfortunately, for this diehard fan, that is where the show’s intrigue ends. McKenzie’s performance does little to help viewers identify him with the beloved character of Gordon. In fact many of the show’s characters seem out of touch with their comic book counterparts, most notably the Wayne family’s butler, Alfred, who is portrayed as an angry, unsympathetic, and even reluctant caretaker to recently orphaned Bruce.

Though it has the aspirations of a cop show, “Gotham” lacks suspense, and what action it does have is unrealistic or unnecessarily gruesome. In an effort to appear dark and original, the show comes across as over-the-top and poorly thought out. At this point in the season, one is left wondering how the writers are going to fill an entire season, unless more characters from the long list of future Batman villains are included.

But hope for the show’s survival lies, ironically, in the boy-who-will-be-Batman, that of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz). Struggling with the loss of his parents, Bruce begins listening to screamo music and engaging in self harm (which, though unhealthy behaviors, are significantly more typical ways of dealing with grief than becoming a masked vigilante). The show has hinted that Bruce’s alarming behavior is going to lead to Gordon taking him under his wing and mentoring him.

While “Gotham” has met audiences with mixed reviews (many love it while others think it is a disappointment) one thing is for sure; the show won’t be losing traction anytime soon.

Mary Kate Browning is a senior applied communications major and digital editor for Cedars. She loves coffee, goats and wearing her Batman backpack around campus.

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