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REVIEW: Gotham 1×01 “Pilot”

Well, it has finally arrived. Gotham, the new series by Bruno Heller, seems to be just what it was advertised as: a show about Detective James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, that takes place while Batman and his rogues gallery are all young. The characters that will eventually become Catwoman (played by Camren Bicondova), Poison Ivy (played by Clare Foley), The Penguin (played by Robin Lord Taylor), and the Riddler (played by Cory Michael Smith) were all present in the pilot. There was even an unnamed comedian that might end up becoming the Joker. This does not even count mob boss Falcone (played by John Doman), Fish Mooney (who runs the underground sector of Gotham’s Theater District and is played by Jada Pinkett Smith), and Renee Montoya (played by Victoria Cartagena).

If it seems like this is too many villains for one episode, it’s because it is.

Also, SPOILERS AHEAD.

Bruce Wayne’s parents die. Again.

The show starts with Selina Kyle as she pickpockets some milk and a wallet and then witnesses the murder of Bruce’s parents. Gordon comforts Bruce (played by David Mazouz), telling him to be strong, and swears to him that he will catch the killer. He and Harvey Bullock (played by Donal Logue) track down and kill Ivy Pepper’s dad, but later it turns out that he was framed and was not the killer. So then Gordon goes back to Bruce to tell him the truth, and once again tells him that he will find the killer.

It seems to me that the episode should have focused more on Bruce’s struggle. Yes, this is Gordon’s show, but focusing more on his relationship with Bruce would have made me care more about them. As of now I only really care about Harvey and Oswald Cobblepot. The two of them really stole the show.

It felt like the episode was trying to juggle too many characters at once, which was it’s eventual downfall. Just because a bunch of characters eventually become supervillains doesn’t mean that it has to be made painfully obvious: Ivy did not have to constantly be around her plants while Gordon was in her home, Nygma did not have to constantly mention riddles during his first (and only) scene, and Selina did not have to act like Catwoman in every scene. Why did she have to hide behind a gravestone during Martha and Thomas Wayne’s funeral? She could have just stood with everyone else that was there. Oswald was the only one that really needed to act like his future villain self, and it worked very well. He is what I believe the Penguin would have been like at that age. Though I don’t think he needed to kill a man just to get his sandwich.

Also, I’ve been getting very annoyed over the last few years with one recurring piece of dialogue in live action DC movies and shows. “There’s a storm coming.” Come on. That does not have to be put into everything. Yeah, it was changed to “There’s a war coming” in Gotham, but it’s still the same meaning. Come up with something new.

The sound design for the show could have also been better, and by better I mean less excessive. Sometimes less is more. It’s hard to take some scenes seriously when obnoxious sounds effects are constantly used. They actually make the scenes seem more cartoony, which is the opposite effect that they seem to be looking for.

Anyway, this is Harvey Bullock’s first live action appearance and it’s great. I don’t understand how it took so many years for this to happen. He is the most hard-boiled detective that the GCPD has and it seems like he should have made the jump to live action long ago, though better late than never. Just look at that picture up there. Logue just fits the part.

Though the episode suffered from introducing too many characters it likely paved the way for making future episodes better. With all these characters already established the rest of the season will have a much easier time with storytelling, and it will need it. This episode was clearly more about introducing the story than leaving an emotional impact on the viewer, which is unfortunate. It set the groundwork for the series, but as an episode itself it was only okay as entertainment.

Final grade: C

How did you feel about the episode? Were you emotionally engaged? Did you feel that too many villains were introduced at once? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Nick Doblovosky