A few months ago when I first saw the trailer for this series, my heart skipped a beat and butterflies created hurricanes in my belly and all other palpable feelings of excitement ran amok through my synpases. It looked dark and gritty – as it should – it looked slick and sexy, and best of all, we were going to get the origin stories of not one, but many of the Gotham city heroes and villains. I was particularly thrilled by the prospect of the latter, which is not something you often see in these sorts of comic book adaptations. With the exception of Marvel’s Loki, I can’t really think of too many films/shows where they’ve given significant motivation and character development to the bad guys. (Please let me know if you have) Gotham promised to do all this and more.
Finally, the Fall TV season started and I couldn’t wait for Gotham to air. I watched the pilot fresh out of a White Collar addiction – by addiction I mean, I watched all five seasons in three weeks and then proceeded to start rewatching it because I was that hooked and did not want to watch anything else except more White Collar and Gotham was the first series I’d attempted since my love affair with Neal Caffrey, just so you understand my state of mind. That said, the two shows couldn’t be more different so I don’t think my opinion would be coloured or clouded by the debonair conman.
The pilot of Gotham started out great. Beautiful cinematography, a really cool retro vibe to the city, gritty and dark as anticipated, this was going well. Then things went awry and the pilot rolled to a close leaving me feeling disappointed. Perhaps it was simply a case of having too high expectations for a show that could never have lived up to the hype, perhaps it was a lack of White Collar snide humour, but I wasn’t convinced Gotham was all that.
Problem 1) Predictability. I was kind of hoping for a new approach here since it’s all about the origins of the characters, but it didn’t feel fresh at all.
Problem 2) Fish. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen Jada Pinkett Smith act in anything, but her acting in this drove me crazy. I’m not sure quite what it was, but her performance felt forced, almost to the point of pastiche – intentional or not, I couldn’t say.
Problem 3) I did not relate to Gordon. Felt nothing for him. Couldn’t care less what happened to him and he’s meant to be the leading hero of the show. At the end of the pilot, I was most enthralled by Selina Kyle, finding her alluring and delightfully feline I’ll admit in a somewhat sexy kind of way.
My conclusion? Gotham had put style before substance, and while it pleased the eyes, it wasn’t really satisfying my inner comic geek in the ways I wanted it to, in the ways that Arrow and The Flash have. But it was only one episode so I gave it another go, especially because I was really interested in young Catwoman.
Now I knew Catwoman would be young in this show, but I did not expect her to be thirteen. THIRTEEN!? Are you freaking kidding me!? See photo below.
I’ll be honest, that made me feel weird. Maybe I’m projecting my previous knowledge of Catwoman ala Halle Berry style onto this kid, but it makes me a little uncomfortable that there’s a certain amount of sexualisation happening to a 13-year-old.
That aside, and despite my previous disappointment, I have to say the second episode got better. The third got way better and now I’m officially hooked, tuning in for my weekly dose of all things Arkham. However, my initial problems with the series haven’t been assuaged. I’m still not a fan of Fish, and I’m still struggling to feel much of anything for Gordon. Right now, I’m watching for Penguin and that in itself is perhaps proof of Gotham’s genius because the writers have made me feel the most connected to and the most sympathy for – perverse as it is – a major villain!
As the plot thickens and we start heading ever closer to Arkham Asylum, I find myself increasingly engrossed by this series and strongly recommend it for fellow comic geeks and fans of shows that are as much eye candy as they are story substance. Gotham scores 3.5/5 ink splats from me, but that rating may increase as the show progresses. I hope so. There’s so much to love here!