Last night, plucky WWAC writer Ardo and I connected via cyberspace to take in the premiere of DC’s newest foray into the wonderful world of comic book TV: Gotham. Today, dear reader, we bring you our impressions.

 

Spoiler alert: mine were not great.

LH: So! Ardo, what did you think of the pilot?

 

Ardo: I liked it. It’s not perfect of course, but it was pretty good for a first introductory episode.

 

LH: I think it won’t be for me, though it was always going to be an uphill battle: I just never liked the Gotham-ness of Gotham, even in the comics. It (and Batman) are too grim for me. And this pilot was a lot of sepia-toned, growly-voiced, grimness.

 

Ardo: I like the grimness of the Batman universe because it’s part of what made this vigilante and hero who he is.

It’s really a question of when taking the law into your own hands becomes not only necessary but appropriate and that’s what we’re witnessing now. One of the issues I did have that I think you or another WWAC staffer mentioned on twitter was the number of characters introduced. I know that Bruno Heller (the showrunner) said that he wanted to pack in a lot of villains to hook us, but that just leads to characters fighting for screen time and it feeling too full for a introductory episode. Did the suspect HAVE to be the father of Poison Ivy (aka Ivy Pepper, who is actually Pamela Isley in the comics. . . but I digress)?

 

LH: For me, the introduction of the massive rogues gallery and all the familiar names (so far we already have Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot, Poison Ivy, and the Riddler) makes this a Batman show, without Batman. Tonally, it was a one-note episode without any shift from the start to the finish, aside from the rollercoaster ride of whether or not Gordon’s partner liked him or hated him. It couldn’t seem to figure out if it wanted to be a cop procedural or a noir or straight-up superhero show, and ended up being a convoluted mess I couldn’t follow and never hooked me. If I hadn’t been familiar with these characters already, there was no way I’d be interested in what happened to them.

 

Ardo: I agree. This is the beginnings of Batman’s mythos so it should feel like a noir detective drama without necessarily doing procedural. What it needs to do is not go “AND HERE’S POISON IVY!!! see? See? SEE????.” It needs to acknowledge that it’s a prequel to a world that will soon have superhero giants populate it, but, for right now, it’s a crime ridden city. It should be Smallville, but where Clark—as someone with superpowers—has superpowered prequels to his Superman. This needs to be a world that could work just as well with Batman in it with the difference being the level of shit the criminals can get away with. You can have an interesting show without Batman because Gotham is such a character of her own. She made these characters, so we’re essentially witnessing their birth.

 

But Ardo figured it out!

What did you think of the Joker fake out? I know the show plans on doing more before introducing him by the end of the season (or so they say).

 

LH: I didn’t think they’d introduce the Joker this early, without putting him in the cold open with Bruce and Jim, so I didn’t think much of it. But I do want to talk a little about this idea of Gotham minus Batman, because what I was really hoping for was a classy, gritty noir that really showcases the downfall of the city—paralleling its descent with Bruce’s rise. Instead, we get a clump of the rogues we already know, in a city that’s already falling apart, and a Jim Gordon who sadly lacks the charisma and chemistry to lend a deeper complexity to it all. By namedropping villains and staging fake-outs, it makes me think the producers don’t have a lot of confidence in their ability to create a show and story based on a Gotham that isn’t continually reminding the audience that it’s the Gotham we know. In fact, the one character I really enjoyed watching was one of the only original ones: Fish Mooney. What are your feelings on Fish, our presumed Season One Big Bad?

 

Ardo: I really hope she’s not just a one season villain! I love Jada and her portrayal of Fish Mooney. However, I have to give this episode to Oswald Cobblepot— aka Penguin.

He has this great blend of a garden snake but is also pitiful in an adorable way. I love Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen’s introduction. I loved them both in the comic series Gotham Central. I agree with a lot of your critiques and I hope that Gotham’s focus on name dropping villains stops because that was one of Agents of SHIELD’s issues. I don’t want this show to be another Agents of SHIELD. 🙁

What did you think of our young Bruce Wayne?

 

LH: I thought that kid was remarkably well-composed for having lost his parents so recently—but then, Bruce has always been emotionally unavailable as a character, so it makes sense he’d start out that way as a kid. Mostly, I just hope there’s not too much focus on him, because while young Bruce seems to be starting off on his path towards the Bat early on, Gotham was definitely marketed as Jim Gordon’s story, not Bruce Wayne’s. I was actually sort of disappointed to see that they opted to open with the Wayne murders, like every Batman movie or reboot comic ever. That’s the genesis for Bruce, but not for Jim Gordon, after all. At this point, I’m not sure how Bruce will fit in with the storyline, aside from having been disappointed by the GCPD, though it seems he and Jim will strike up a friendship, or at least some sort of mutual regard for one another.

The pilot definitely exposed Gotham’s seedy underbelly (and immediate first impression…) and left us with a wide cast of characters and a “crime wave” that got kicked off before the episode even started. Care to make a prediction on how the season will play out from here?

 

Ardo: I predict James will be accused of murder! Or somehow put in an uneasy position in order to get him out of the way because, duh, season finale cliffhanger! I think the show has the potential of being good and is in the position of finding its legs. We’ll have to see the third or fourth episode before declaring its demise or rise to super show. I don’t want the focus moved away from Gordon, and Ben McKenzie has the chops to be awesome so I hope the writing will let him do that. I just don’t want to be disappointed with yet another comic book show.

 

And there you have it, folks! Ardo was left with a more favorable impression than I was…

…but we’ll see what future episodes bring.

 

(Hopefully fewer characters to keep track of.)