Best: Batman universe is on TV
I am a huge Batman fan, and when I heard about Gotham, I was pretty excited. Yes, it won’t have Batman in it, but at least it is the Batman universe, and the concept for the show is actually pretty awesome. Batman villains before they turned into what we know them as today? Awesome. Gordan rising through the ranks of the police force in a city that is losing the battle to organized crim? Awesome. There should be plenty of material to work with here.
Worst: Subtly was not this episodes strong suit
There is a fine line between being so subtle that you confuse the general audience, and being so obvious it’s as if you’re whipping your metaphorical penis into people’s faces and slapping them repeatedly. Gotham chose to whip out its junk and hit the viewers repeatedly in this episode. It was like someone was at a party, name dropping all of the Batman villains they knew before they were famous.
“Oh I knew Poison Ivy years ago. She owned SO many plants. Penguin? Oh, I knew him years ago, he even broke his foot and he ended up waddling like a penguin when he walked. Catwoman? She liked to wear goggles and crawl around like a cat.”
Every turn you took, there they were, letting you know who to expect to see in the upcoming seasons. On one hand, you have to generate viewer interest by letting them know that some old favorites will play a role in this series. On the other hand, there is no reason they couldn’t have been more subtle about things. Like, that stand up comedian in the night club? Is he the future Joker? I would rather they take that approach, teasing us a bit about who might be who and keeping us guessing a bit.
Don’t have Mr. Freeze be some kid selling ice cream on the corner, always telling his friends how he wishes it would snow every day and how his favorite frozen treats are “Freezies”. WE GET IT.
Worst: The dialogue sounded like it was taken from a porn movie
I should never feel like “Ice to meet you” would fit right into a TV show, but that’s how bad it got at times. Often times they would also use CSI Miami like delivery on their lines to get to the next scene:
“Bad guys can’t be stopped.”
“I’ll stop them.”
“Crazy enough to try.”
“Try being sane!”
“Sane enough to be crazy.”
It just had this weird fucking cadence where it felt like Ben McKenzie (Gordon) was having a contest with Donal Logue (his partner, Harvey) about who could deliver a line with the most forced gravitas of all time. They could be talking about what they ate for dinner last night, and Ben McKenzie would gruffly utter “A burrito.” and then stare into the distance past the camera. It was off setting.
I also found it weird that Gordon talked to Bruce Wayne as if he was already Batman, talking to him about his dead parents killer still being alive, and asking for permission to hunt him down still. Dude, he’s like, 10 years old. You’re a grown ass man cop. Don’t ask “boy whose parents just got murdered” about what direction to take in your life and career. Geezus.
Worst: Pacing of the show
Look, not every show needs to be slow. But not every show needs to fly along at super human speeds. Like, I don’t need Batman to copy Walking Dead, where Rick sits around for 55 minutes having a spirited debate with Carl about the benefits of eating bran regularly, before the last five minutes of the show descends into chaos as angry zombies break through the door.
What I would like, however, is for them to take their time in future episodes. Maybe it was because they wanted to fit a lot into the premiere episode, so everything got kind of rushed as they introduced character after character, but this episode flew along so quickly that it didn’t allow the audience to enjoy or soak up the atmosphere. It felt like the camera was fading to black in the middle of a 10 second scene before moving onto the next 5 second scene, before finally landing on a 30 second scene, in which they randomly decided to hate on Edward Nigma for being good at his job.
Worst: Forced bad ass moments
That’s Fish Mooney. They spent the most time on her as an established bad guy due to the fact most of the other Batman villains haven’t fully evolved into their future selves yet. It makes sense, and it’s smart to have someone established for Gordon to feud with.
The problem I had was their attempts to make her seem bad ass. There are plenty of ways they could have achieved this. It could have been through witty dialogue (there wasn’t), or it could have been through smart moves on her part (there weren’t). No, instead they decided to show how bad ass she was by hitting people with furniture.
Seriously, at one point she has Gordon in her office, and after Gordon takes out her two thugs, she whacks him with a vase or something (to be fair it could have been a lamp).
Then later on, she has a showdown with the soon to be Penguin, and hands him a knife, and turns her back on him, egging him on, as if to see what he might do. Penguin charges her with his butter knife, and she turns around and hits him with a chair. A god damn chair. Then starts beating him with said chair, thus breaking his foot, thus making him waddle like a penguin, etc etc.
I’m sorry, but if you want me to believe you became one of the cities most dangerous crime bosses, you’re going to have to show me how that was achieved through non furniture ways. As it stands now, it feels like she most likely took out her various enemies through throwing toasters at them, dropping couches on them, or possibly hitting them with a side table, but like, using the corner, so it cut them up and shit.
Give her a god damn tazer, that’s all I’m saying.
Worst: ROCK AND ROLL RIFFS, YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH
I cant’ stress enough how much of an impact music can have on a movie or TV show. Inception is a huge example of just how much an impact sound can play in our viewing experience. Like, if they replaced the “wake up” song (Non, Je Regrette Rie) in Inception with “Call Me Maybe”, the tone of the scenes would have changed quite a bit.
The same goes for Gotham. Again, I don’t need everything to be on Christopher Nolan levels of Batman grittiness, but Gotham is a pretty shitty place to live, and not a lot of happy things happen there. In the shows current Gotham, people are getting murdered, the cops are crooked, and the city is slowly losing the battle to crime syndicates. It would be nice if the music choice was something a bit dramatic to kind of showcase the mood of the city.
Instead there were random guitar riffs and rock sound music interludes every five god damn minutes. Batman’s parents just got shot? Better have Gordon talk to young Wayne then ROCK AND ROLL RIFF to a scene of him at the police station. Did the Major Crimes Unit just dress down Harvey? ROCK AND ROLL RIFF TIME as they leave the diner.
It might seem like nitpicking to many, but the music sets the tone, and I would rather have no music, then random energetic rock music that sounds out of place.
While I know this will come off as super negative, I am going to give Gotham all the time in the world to turn things around. I understand pilot episodes usually look nothing like what many shows turn into by the time season 2 rolls around, so I am hoping they find their groove and start adjusting some of the things they do on the show. It just felt like they tried to do way too much in this episode (for example, at one point during a Gordon chase scene, they randomly cut to a camera right in Gordon’s face, which is like, ok, awesome, you have an interesting camera angle to show off, but it wasn’t really needed at all) and as a result, everything felt forced.