As the series enters a brief hiatus period I thought it would be a good point to stop and take stock of where we got to in the first ten episodes of a much-hyped series that had the potential to do for Batman what Smallville did for Superman some ten years ago, though at times fell short of its own promise.
For those that don’t know, the plot centres around Commissioner James Gordon, played by OC actor Ben McKenzie, as he moves to the Gotham Police Force and comes to terms with just how corrupt the city is. It is, essentially, an origin story for Gordon, though the story is also entangled with many more familiar faces. There are a few gangs playing people off against each other, everyone seemingly being puppeteered by the brilliant character Fish Moody (Jade Pinkett Smith), who was created especially for this series. She is a revelation for the show and during the slower points of certain episodes was one of the reasons I kept watching.
We also come into contact with the increasingly twisted Oswald Cobblepot, who is the Penguin in waiting and has received a lot of focus throughout, establishing the character as a key player in the series so far as he plays the gangs off against each other to gain standing and reputation in a city difficult to survive in. Whilst he initial felt mispitched, the plans for Oswald came to fruition later in the series and it became clear the writing and character development was deeper than was initially clear.
We’re treated to a confident performance from young actress Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle (Catwoman), whose similarity to Michelle Pfieffer is uncanny. Furthermore, the groundwork has been put in place to introduce Ed Nigma (The Riddler) and later Harvey Dent (Two Face) and (Poison) Ivy Pepper.
Each show has its own individual plotline and they often play out like an episode of something like CSI, only with a darker tone. Each week we’ve tended to have a one-off criminal that needs to be caught and they are usually tied back in with one of the gangs we already know of. It’s a simple – if repetitive – formula, but hopefully when the characters are further developed we will have longer story arcs concentrating on more prominent characters from the Gotham universe.
Underpinning it all is the development of Bruce Wayne who, as in all good Batman stories, loses his parents to a masked criminal early on. To be honest, the sections of the shows that focus on Wayne felt a little like filler as he is so far away from becoming Batman, and in a 42-minute episode it was annoying to lose 5 minutes to something not central to the plot.
I was glad I stuck with it though, as this turned into a big payoff in the last two episodes. Bruce and Selina formed a friendship (of sorts) whilst she was being sheltered in Wayne Manor and, following an attack on the house by gang members, both made a run for it to avoid gunfire. With Bruce operating as a more central character in his own right, still supported by the ongoing storylines with Oswald and Fish, the whole series felt a lot more balanced. These last two episodes also justified the baffling London gangster take on Alfred from Sean Pertwee, which makes a lot more sense if he’s allowed to punch people in the face occasionally.
With this in mind, the series is perfectly balanced to go into the second half of the first series with a lot of momentum and, whilst a lot of the series has failed to live up to my hopes and expectations, I’m confident it will build on its successes and grow into a worthwhile and original adaptation of the Batman story.
The recent episodes of Gotham are viewable on Channel 5 Player in the UK for another three weeks and I recommend trying one of the episodes as a taster before they go.