Gotham: First Impressions

Three episodes deep into Gotham and I’ve made a decision: Gotham can be good.

Warning: If you know nothing about the Batman comics, some of this may make less sense to you. That’s part of the reason this show can have mass appeal.

It has all the makings of an interesting, cops versus bad guys, police procedural drama, set in an intriguing world that most people have at least heard of. If nothing else, most people can tell you Gotham is Batman’s hometown and Batman is a comic book hero.

The show centers around a young homicide detective, James “Jim” Gordon and his partner, another Batman-fan recognizable, Harvey Bullock. In typical “hard-boiled-cop-gets-a-hot-shot-new-partner” TV fashion, the two team up to take on the increasingly bad scene that is the city of Gotham.

GothamGordon

The shows’ premise is built on the fateful night when a young Bruce Wayne sees his parents shot down by a purse-snatcher. Gordon’s connection to the boy—who will one day become the hero Gotham needs—marks the start of both of their journeys into darkness. A running relationship with the young Gordon and the child Bruce Wayne is a parallel arc in the story. It gives people who tuned in strictly for the “comics aspect” a little bite of their heroes.

This show can be for Batman fans but is clearly not aiming for that to be its primary audience.

I admit, Gotham seemed pretty touch-and-go in the beginning. An endless stream of references to DC universe characters kept me Googling instead of actually watching my tv. I felt like I constantly needed to know what year [insert villian here] was introduced and WHY is it relevant to the show?

The point is: It isn’t.

The show gets so bogged down in trying to make everyone into a winking nod to the comics that it gets distracting. James is engaged to Barbara who—we nerds know—was Jim’s daughter not his wife… unless they named their daughter after her mother at which point she goes on to become Bat GIRL.

Mr. Cobblepot is CLEARLY Penguin. They call him “Penguin” because he “walks like a penguin.”

GothamPenguin

See what I mean?

It’s enough. Gotham, just tell your story. When the show keeps it simple, it’s a good, solid DVR pick to follow. As someone who LOVES filling my DVR with formulaic, schlocky and/or trash television, this will stay on my list… if—and only if—they back down from the obscure and distracting references and stick to making a police drama with a young Commissioner Gordon as the main character.

I just hope they focus on building a compelling narrative. Lord knows DC’s television and animated properties are the best thing they have going for them at this point.

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