After a good first episode Gotham decreased in quality, this is review for the first half of the season and the issues I had with it, and there are spoilers.
One of the major issues with Gotham is a lack of an interesting or clear overall plot for the season. Gotham often uses a villain of the week format that comic books and cop shows consistently use. An issue Gotham has is that most of their villain of the week story lines are uninteresting and are stopped in lame uninspired ways. The villain of the week issue pales in comparison to a lock of an interesting or clear overall plot for the season. If the main point of the first season is to find out who murdered Bruce Wayne’s parents, Gotham has failed so far to make me care for two reasons. First there is no guarantee it will even be solved this season. Gotham is set up to have Gordon investigate the murders of the Waynes, but with child Bruce Wayne being a major character, if the murders are solved soon it will make his child detective story line and connection to Gordon pointless. Second the show has given on real hints to who was behind it, but did give a lot of misdirection from Falcone, people in Wayne Industries, and Dick Lovecraft, all of these possible suspects have so far proven false. If finding out who murdered the Waynes is not the main plot, only the rise of Oswald Cobblepot works as an interesting story line that could be finished this season.
Little Batman & Friends
When I heard Gotham would feature a child Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy, I wondered how they were going to make good story lines featuring child versions of heroes and villains close to a decade before they become the people fans are use to. The answer is they do not even try to make one half decent story featuring the kids. Here are some of the high/low lights: Catwoman ask Bruce if he wants to kiss her until she decides to just kiss him, Bruce test his strength by seeing how long he can hold his breath and burning his hand to see if he can take the pain, Ivy takes care of a lot of plants and thinks Bruce is cute, and the midseason finally features Bruce and Catwoman running away from assassins.
Ben McKenzie’s performance as Gordon is solid, but the character is a standard good cop that will not blend his morals to make life easier, but he lacks any good plans or strategies to clean up the corruption in Gotham’s police department, find out who murdered the Waynes, or stop mob bosses Carmine Falcone or Sal Maroni. For the first ten episodes Gordon has survived based on luck and being a pawn in someone else’s plan. For example, Gordon decides not to kill Penguin for Falcone, but lies about not killing him causing Montoya and Allen to arrest him. How would Gordon get out of this situation? Would he go to jail for a crime he did not commit? Would he prove he did not kill Penguin and have to face the mob’s revenge for failing to do what he was ordered to do? Luckily for Gordon Penguin shows up at the police station alive while Gordon is being arrested for Penguin’s murder, and later convinces Falcone to let Gordon live and forgive him for failing to follow orders. Going forward it would be nice if Gordon himself were responsible for getting out of situations he put himself in.
Gordon’s partner is one of the better characters on the show. A corrupt cop that sometimes does the right thing, and has been both a comic relief character and a realist that seriously wishes to change Gotham, but sees no way to do it.
She is the worse character on the show. While I believe Jada Pinkett Smith is a good actress based on past performances I have seen her in, she intently over acts and it is hard to take the character seriously.
While I just said Fish Mooney was the worse character, Barbara could almost tie her and surpass her if you consider the issue with Gotham being a prequel and she eventually becoming Gordon’s future wife. It is progressive that Gotham has a bi-sexual main character, but that character being Gordon’s future wife brings problems that the writers of Gotham do not seem capable of solving. It is one thing for Barbara to have a past relationship with female detective Montoya, but when she leaves or cheats on Gordon for Montoya, she left Gordon a note saying they need to spend time apart and is later shown sharing a bed with Montoya but it is unclear if that is an official break up, it is hard to see how the two get back together. It is a story line that makes every character involved worse. Montoya is one of the few good cops on Gotham, but her interest in arresting Gordon for Penguin’s murder could be to get her ex-lover back instead of getting justice for a perceived dead man, and after finding out Gordon is innocent and working with him to clean up Gotham she still decides to steal his girl. Barbara complains that Gordon does not tell her the truth, but when Gordon tells her and puts her life in danger, which he warned her would happen, she leaves him for a detective who would logically put Barbara’s life in danger. Knowing Gordon will have to take Barbara back at some point makes his character weaker.
For all my criticisms of Gotham the biggest positive is Penguin. Penguin being a Batman villain who is middle aged when Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, so he is able to turn into the villain Batman fans know during Gotham’s time on TV. Watching Penguin play both good and bad characters to rise in Gotham’s organize crime has been the best part of the series.
Overall Impression of Gotham
It is not good when compared to other DC super hero shows Arrow and The Flash, cop shows like Law & Order and CSI, or a prequel/reboot show like Hannibal.
Gotham is far from the worse show on television and there are episodes that are good, but the good episodes do not redeem the horrible ones and the lack of a captivating plot to keep viewers looking forward to the next episode makes it even harder to recommend.