Review: Gotham

By Michael Thomson 3 out of 5 stars.

You may have seen the posters for the new television show Gotham, plastered over seemingly half the buses in Glasgow. It has been developed by American network Fox and will air on Channel 5 over here. The show focuses on what happened in Batman’s town before Batman was “The Batman”. This sounds remarkably similar to the 2005 film Batman Begins and the pilot does share some similar plot points but although a young Bruce Wayne does feature, the main focus of the show is a young James Gordon, who at this point is an up and coming detective, played by Ben McKenzie of The O.C. fame. In the pilot we see him dealing with a high profile murder case and bumping into various little kids with funny names who will presumably grow up to be key players in the Batman universe. He also has to deal with the farcical levels of corruption in the police department including his somewhat moody and thuggish partner. While production value is high and there are plenty of nice visuals the script feels weak in places and the show overall suffers as a result, especially in the second episode where Gordon investigates a series of child kidnappings.

It is also terribly difficult to compete with the Dark Knight trilogy which it will inevitably, if slightly unfairly, be compared to. Christopher Nolan’s films were so well received and in such recent memory that anything that at all replicates it is going to suffer from high levels of scrutiny. The actors involved have the hardest job, with all due respect, a boring guy off The O.C, a bunch of other B list TV actors from both the US and UK and some cute little kids are always going to struggle to compete with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. Although I must give some credit to Robin Lord Taylor who seems very well cast as the young “Penguin”

It gives the impression that while planning the show the Fox executives must have had a conversation along the lines of, “what’s been successful in the past 2 years?”

“Super hero films and long form, gritty crime dramas”

“Well let’s do that then.”

And it may well gather some success, but if the trend in drop in quality between the pilot and episode 2 continues I cannot imagine many people will stick with it through its 16 episode run.

Gotham airs on Monday nights at 9pm on Channel 5.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);