TV: Gotham

The teasers and articles hinting at Bruno Heller’s newest project, Gotham surfaced on the interwebs at the start of summer. Naturally, as a fan of anything remotely hinting towards dark and decrepit themes, coupled with investigation thrillers, DC’s Batman characters and, well, Bruno Heller – I was completely sold.

Heller created The Mentalist, a show I was totally in love with and enjoyed immensely, so of course I’d look forward to his next project. He has the talent for creating and spinning new stories and keeping you on your toes, developing characters to the extent that you form emotional attachments as you go along with them on their tremulous journeys, then surprising you at every turn with the feelings and sympathy he evokes for characters you never thought would hold any relevance.

Gotham is based on characters that appear in the Batman universe, with a keen focus on antagonist Detective James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie. This particular take on the renowned franchise focuses on Detective Gordon and his integration into Gotham’s rather corrupt police force, the relationship he has with the young Bruce Wayne and the fruitless promise he makes to catch his parent’s killer.

The first episode begins with the origins; the Wayne’s death, Gordon’s first take on the job, his attempt to capture the killer and soon enough, his experience with crooked cops. He realises the justice system isn’t as pure and straightforward as he thought – it is infiltrated by criminals and the influence of money. Naturally Gordon, as the do-gooder, wants to protect the city, do what is right at all costs and bring justice to the people. This doesn’t bode well with crime bosses and eventually we witness a power struggle in which Gordon and his corrupt partner, Harvey Bullock, are held at the crux of it all.

Comic characters are smoothly revealed in the first episode, we see a young Selina Kyle slinking around the city, hidden and out of sight, her character will only slowly unravel, and I look forward to seeing what she has in store for us. The sycophantic and sadistic Penguin thriving off deceit and murder, and Falcone boasting his power and influence as a crime lord disguising as a businessman. There are also intervals of Alfred appearing with the young master Wayne. I enjoyed Alfred’s character, he seemed more brisk, a no nonsense persona with hidden emotional depth.

The show has a lot to offer, despite the limited action, there is a keen focus on plot and character development. The pilot is slow paced, at certain intervals it dragged, seemed sluggish, the acting a little bit awkward and overly done, particularly that of Bullock.

It has promise, however, with Penguin aka Oswald Cobblepot, played by Robin Lord Taylor – who without a doubt is a fantastic actor and intensely superb at playing the role. He brings a whole new meaning to the character of Penguin, he is creepy and sadistic, yet without the desperate edge the previous film series’ seemed to offer. His character seems fresh and very intellectual, bloodthirsty yes, but he’s definitely one to watch. He belies emotions so cleverly, he’s a master manipulator and seems to posses the ability to easily control and exploit situations. I love an intellectual villainous character that is well written and acted, they’re very hard to come by.

Similarly with Gordon, one can plainly see the drive to be a good cop and “defeat” evil, so to speak. With Heller’s rendition of the Detective, and McKenzie’s portrayal, it is more evident than before that James Gordon is a war hero, a man with morals and a clear cut intelligence on the field. His character differs greatly from the previous Batman films; he’s rough around the edges and there’s a youthful, fighting aura that surrounds him, as well as a sense of sly witticism.

It is extremely refreshing to see this interpretation of Detective James Gordon’s character, and to tell his untold story from the beginning, I can only wait for his character to unravel – show us more hidden depths, and expose aspects of Detective Gordon we’ve never seen before.

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