Find out the positives and negatives of the pilot episode of the Batman series without Batman.
Outside of seeing Bruce Wayne’s parents die in front of him for what seems like the hundredth time in Batman’s over 70 years in existence, I was not sure how Gotham was going to work. While I like commissioner Gordon as the good cop that is willing to work with a vigilantly, I was unsure how he would be as a lead character. The pilot episode squashed these concerns by using story ideas already present in the comics. Batman: Year One a classic Batman story by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli follows Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham, after being away for years training, and his first year as Batman. This story featured no super villains, but was co-stared by James Gordon as he tried to be a good cop in a corrupt Gotham police department during his first year in Gotham. In Batman: Year One Gordon’s partner was a corrupt cop and in the Gotham TV show his partner is corrupt cop Harvey Bullock. The main focus of the pilot is finding the killer of Bruce Wayne’s parents. This leads to an investigation that was different than an episode of Law & Order or CSI featuring Batman villains, because any of the cops not named Gordon could have been involved in the murder, cover-up, or both. This puts Gordon in a uniquely bad situation where he cannot trust his fellow policemen, but unlike Batman: Year One, or most stories involving Gordon, he cannot ask Batman for help. Watching Gordon solve crimes, while working with criminals he is trying to expose without losing his life, is an interesting plot point that can be carried throughout the season and not get old. It is certainly better than “Hey Gordon! I heard there is a physically imposing 16 year old the locals are calling Bane robing a convenience store near by. Lets go arrest him”, Harvey Bullock said. Luckily nothing as bad as my imagined scenario happened involving younger versions of Batman villains, and young Penguin was surprisingly a good character. By good I do not mean his a good guy, because he is still evil, but his origin story was one of the highlights of the pilot. A henchmen working for criminal Fish Mooney, Penguin is forced to leave Gotham and figure out what to do with his crime career, after he is exposed as a snitch that told the police that the mob were involved in framing another criminal for the murder of Bruce’s parents.
The biggest issue with the pilot was younger versions of Batman’s villains that seem unneeded or I just do not see where the show is going with the characters. Before watching Gotham I wonder what is the point of a young Catwoman, after watching Gotham I still have no clue why she is part of the show. Catwoman saw Bruce’s parents murdered, stole a wallet and milk for what I assume is her cat, and went to the funeral for the murdered Martha and Thomas Wayne. Along with the seemingly pointless cameo of Catwoman, is the introduction of young versions of Riddler and Poison Ivy. Riddler is an annoying cop or forensic scientist working for the Gotham police department that explains evidence on cases in riddles, and Poison Ivy was the daughter of the criminal that was framed for the murders of the Waynes and is a little girl named Ivy that takes care of a lot of plants. None of these future villains added to the show and I hope the writers do something interesting with them going forward. While I did like Gordon’s story, I still have concerns on how long they will be able to keep it entertaining for a season or seasons. Batman: Year One was made into an animated movie that was only 65 minutes long and Gordon was only half of the story.
The stories of Gordon and Penguin along with good acting made Gotham’s pilot episode worth watching.
While it will not blow you away, Gotham did enough to convince me to watch the next episode and that is the ultimate goal of the first episode of any series and why I believe eight out of ten is the right score.