GOTHAM Series Preview: Fun and Promising Pilot with a Gritty Crime Element and Stand-Out Performances from Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor

     June 15, 2014

One of the most highly anticipated new shows for the Fall TV season is the Fox drama series Gotham.  From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (The Mentalist, Rome) and with a beautifully cinematic pilot directed by Danny Cannon (the CSI franchise, Nikita), it is the origin story for a number of the characters in the Batman universe, including Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler and Poison Ivy, as it shows what made them the formidable adversaries that they eventually become.  At its core, it is the story of Detective James Gordon’s (Benjamin McKenzie) rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil, and it chronicles the birth of one of the most popular superheroes of our time.

Collider was invited, along with a group of other press members, to attend the big-screen debut of the pilot at the super-swanky iPic Theater in Westwood, which was a great way to see a show like this.  Hit the jump for my thoughts and first impressions on the Gotham pilot.

gotham-ben-mckenzie-robin-lord-taylorFirst thing’s first, I am not a reader of comics.  All I know about the Batman universe is what I’ve picked up from previous film and TV incarnations, and having an older brother who read them.  That being said, I really enjoyed the pilot and found it both promising and with a lot of potential.  There are plot twists and fun surprises that I don’t want to ruin, so here are 10 spoiler-free things that you should know about Gotham:

  • For people who aren’t familiar with the comics and who are wondering whether this show is for them, while it is a serialized story, there is a gritty crime element that should definitely appeal to a wider audience.
  • This Gotham is grimy and violent, and clearly on its way to being overrun by a criminal element that will quickly be sending it on a downward spiral.  It feels much more like the real world heightened than it does a comic book world.
  • The series is centered around the Gotham police department and the partnership between hotshot newbie Detective James Gordon (McKenzie) and weathered Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue).
  • gotham-ben-mckenzie-david-mazouzWhile I wasn’t sold on such a young Bruce Wayne prior to seeing the pilot, David Mazouz does a great job at playing all of the emotional levels of the character.
  • There are some really heartfelt moments in both the new bond that Bruce Wayne forms with James Gordon, who finds himself working the high-profile murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne, and the clearly life-long relationship he has with butler Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee).
  • Whether they will eventually become hero, victim, vigilante or villain, it’s clear that each of the characters’ evolutions will progress out of and be a result of the current life situation that they are in.
  • Even with little to no dialogue in the pilot, Camren Bicondova (who plays a teenaged Selina Kyle, aka the future Catwoman) and Clare Foley (who plays Ivy Pepper, aka the future Poison Ivy) have enough mystery and flare to them that it will be interesting to see where they take their characters in future episodes.
  • gotham-jada-pinkett-smithDon’t be nervous about the new characters added to the world.  Fish Mooney, created specifically for the show, is played to perfection by Jada Pinkett Smith.  She is sexy, scary, dangerous, funny and bad-ass, and just really kills it in the role.
  • Robin Lord Taylor is a true stand-out as Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin.  He is a low-level psychopath for Fish Mooney, but has a definite lust for power that will surely come into play as the character develops.  His performance is just so good that people won’t be able to not talk about it.
  • There is a feeling that it’s necessary to pay attention to every character in every scene because you won’t know when you might be meeting someone, for the first time, who could develop into someone very important, or if you’re catching a quick glimpse of a character from the Batman universe that will be brought into the story later on.

Gotham premieres on Fox this Fall.


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