FOX’s new show Gotham takes you back to the days before Batman policed the streets. A time where the hero wore a jacket and plain clothes, with a badge on his chest and a gun on his hip.
The central character of this highly anticipated show is Ben McKenzie’s James Gordon. He befriends a young kid named Bruce Wayne, right after Wayne’s parents are murdered. Gordon’s partner is Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Other familiar faces like Alfred, Selena Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot, Edward Nygma also show up. This show gives a glimpse into the world before Batman entered it as a defining symbol of justice and sacrifice. Cobblepot and Nygma weren’t The Penguin and The Riddler yet, and Kyle wasn’t Catwoman.
The show is ambitious for one simple reason. Batman fans are fragile. That is because Tim Burton flew onto the scene in the late 1980’s and gave the caped crusader a great look, feel and pair of movies. Then Joel Schumacher took over and buried the franchise in glossy overkill, burning the bridge that movie fans and comic book addicts safely crossed with Burton’s take. In 2005, Christopher Nolan entered the fray and didn’t just restore order to the hero. He invited Batman onto an elevator and took him up a few floors. Nolan changed the game and now there is another interpretation of Bat on the way with Warner Brothers Batman/Superman team up. So, take all that into account and creator Bruno Heller has a lot of people to please. The comic book nitpickers. The cinema geeks. The regular television watching public. Good luck finding a common thread.
Here’s why I think it could work and eventually, turn into something special IF Fox gives it time.
The casting is excellent. Ben McKenzie is always going to be the cop from Southland in TV addicts eyes, so he is the right person to fill Gordon’s shoes. He has the freaky combo of earnest, driven and vulnerability. Logue, Jada Pinkett-Smith (Fish Mooney), and John Doman’s Carmine Falcone are good choices as well. Robin Taylor looks just like Cobblepot, as does Riddler player Cory Michael Smith. If a few of these names don’t sound familiar, find trust in that because you don’t want to know them as big named actors. You want to slowly watch them grow into heroes and villains. Young actor David Mazouz is the right guy to inhabit Wayne’s world of innocence broken by bloodshed. In the coming seasons, he will grow into a wounded warrior that has taken the form of many actors. For the first time, audiences get to see young Bruce for multiple hours at a time before they see him all grown up instead of a fleeting glance in a movie.
Gotham shows you the mean streets before order was restored. Think of it as the Wild West before Wyatt Earp showed up.
Instead of another reality show or Law and Order: Salt Lake City, Fall television gets a classic origin story that has the chance to be great. Tune in on Monday, September 22nd on FOX to find out if the results are as promising as the setup.
Share your thoughts on Gotham in the comments below and stay tuned to Comic Booked for Fall Television Previews on many more shows.