During the first few minutes of FOX’s Gotham pilot, all I could think was, “Please don’t screw this up, please don’t screw this up.”

Luckily for Batman fans, as well as fans of good television, the producers and the cast haven’t. 

Gotham — or, at least the pilot — is taut, well-made and exceptionally well-cast, save for one character. While we’ve seen Bruce Wayne’s parents gunned down in origin stories before, we’ve never gotten a true origin story about arguably his best friend–the only good cop in all of Gotham: Jim Gordon.

The show doesn’t do star Ben McKenzie any favors when they introduce Gordon by having him take down a hostage taker in the police station after he commands the entire office to let him be in charge. Isn’t he like, brand new?

That unusual scene aside, by the end of the pilot you completely understand why this man will be Commissioner and why he will be the only one Batman will ever trust.

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Besides McKenzie, who excels as a young Jim Gordon, the rest of the Gotham cast is nearly flawless. Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock is not a morally grey character–instead, producers wisely make him, well, evil. He’s basically Vic Mackey, but in the world of Gotham, and I for one love that the show wasn’t afraid to go to dark places (pun intended) and have him ask Gordon do what he asks him to do near the end of the episode.

All of the villains are also well-cast. Jada Pinkett Smith seems to be having the time of her life as Fish Mooney, but honestly, given how the pilot ends, I think everyone is going to be watching the Penguin. We may have gotten a hint as to the identity of the Joker, and we got glimpses of Poison Ivy and the Riddler, but the Penguin’s desire to rise above and become the man in charge is likely what’s going to drive season one. 

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While the villains are well cast, it certainly wasn’t fun to see them shoehorned in places they didn’t belong.  All of the ways the pilot struggled to make every single Batman villain a part of the Wayne murder was frustrating. It was a coincidence too far to make Poison Ivy’s father a suspect and it seemed too “cute” for Selina Kyle to constantly be skulking through the shadows at every critical story point, unless her and Bruce are going to become best friends. (Please don’t let that happen.) 

We also don’t need the constant winks and nods to the futures of our villains. We know Nygma is going to be the Riddler, so you don’t need to make an obvious and annoying reference to the fact that he likes riddles. (That said, wow, does Cory Michael Smith nail Nygma’s rhythm and cadence in his performance. Phenomenal.)

On top of that, I hate the idea that there could be a big conspiracy behind the Wayne murder. I think that was a red herring to set up the war between Fish Mooney and Penguin, but hopefully producers will still close to the comic sources for this one. I was fine when Tim Burton had the Joker do it, but honestly, the story would be best served if it was just Joe Chill.

The biggest red flag for FOX’s Gotham, however, is Alfred. He seems way too young and is either horribly miscast or woefully underwritten. Seems producers are trying to give us an Alfred we’ve never seen before, but perhaps this is the one character they shouldn’t mess with.

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Barbara, Jim’s fiancee, also seems to be a problem. Go on Wikipedia and you might get hints to why she seems to have a relationship with Renee, from the Major Crimes Unit.

Those two characters aside and you have the best cast on any new show this Fall.

Everyone watching Gotham knows how the show is going to end. And hopefully we won’t have to wait ten years as we did with Smallville for young Bruce Wayne to put on the cowl. More importantly, as compared to that CW show, producers have enough interesting stories going on that will make the waiting game less painful.

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Other Odds and Ends:

– I got chills in the scene where Jim sees Bruce cowering in the shadows, rocking back and forth, just after his parents have been murdered. Very much evoked the same scene in Batman Begins.

– Really enjoyed the humor. Even though there are rumors of “no jokes” being allowed in DC movies, I’m happy to report there was a few instances of humor in the Gotham pilot. I particularly laughed out loud at Fish Mooney telling Gordon, “My men are watching a scary movie” when he inquired about the sounds of her men beating the shit out of someone.

– The look of the show was fantastic. It’s set in near present time – Jim has a flip phone — but Gotham looks like it belongs in Prohibition era.

– Falcone told Jim of his relationships with his dad and how they respected each other. They even had a friendship. I really, really hope we get flashbacks at some point to that.


Gotham premieres Monday, September 22 at 8pm on FOX. 

(Image courtesy of FOX) 


Alan Danzis

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV