If you missed the premiere of FOX’s Gotham, they’re airing an encore tonight (Friday). Or you could just read what I think of it and save yourself the hassle.
Love and Hate are not opposites. Love and Indifference are.
Love and Hate, by their very nature, both exist on and elicit some degree of passion. Indifference is merely a shrug and a “meh.”
I’m just north of indifference after Gotham’s first outing, though there are a few things keeping me tethered to the idea of testing the waters again next week.
The first of which is not morbid curiosity—though there’s a healthy enough dose of that—but rather an inexplicable attachment to a couple of characters. The kid who plays Bruce Wayne displays a compelling range of emotion, and I rather enjoyed the little glimpses of his life at Wayne Manor after his parents’ death. The OC guy, now pre-Commissioner Gordon, manages to be quite likable without much evident charisma. In less than a hour, though, we see him adapting to his situation, going from a straight-laced noob to a calculating, latent dissenter. Gordon doesn’t grab your attention by having a big, boisterous personality or even by being the relatable ‘every man’ in a world of crazies; instead, his likability is almost completely fueled by his actions, which subtly demonstrate that we’re watching a multidimensional character who could have a legitimately interesting arc ahead.
As for the villains…I really like the casting for Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin). He’s sniveling and skeevy and kinda perfect, but his presence felt ham-handed. To that point, I found just one placement particularly intriguing: Edward Nygma (who we know will eventually be the Riddler) as a forensic specialist for the Gotham City Police Department. His position and delivery felt like that of a playful yet socially awkward intellectual and less like fan-service.
My biggest complaint* about Gotham thus far is that the creators obviously wanted to get the most bang for their buck with the first episode. Consequently, they made their universe far too small far too quickly with far too much explication. With so many current and future villains shoehorned into 40-some minutes, it all felt overly contrived. Every bad guy doesn’t need to be in every episode. Every bad guy doesn’t need to be in cahoots with all of the other bad guys. And most importantly, we the audience do not need to be told so explicitly who everyone is. Let the casual fans create theories about interconnectness while the die-hards discover how established storylines are modified and portrayed. A gradual, captivating narrative with a satisfying reveal can work for both avid and uninformed Batfans.
It’s not without promise; in fact, it’s possible that Gotham could hit its stride and ultimately be fantastic. Unfortunately, there’s an awful lot of “meh” to muddle through so soon out of the gate.
• Jada Pinkett Smith. Seriously, her character is just awful.
• Uncomfortable camera angles that get up in people’s faces as they’re running. Not flattering.
• Is Catwoman supposed to be a teenager? She’s got one of those faces that kind of looks young but kind of looks like she could be in her 40s. It’s unsettling.
• Can we cut the camp just a little bit?! While I appreciate that it’s got enough levity to keep it out of the Nolan-verse, I fear that its zany tendencies could push it into the realm of the ’90s films.